When Philip Johnson, owner of e'cco - one of Australia's premier restaurants - joined us for a charter he had no expectations whatsoever. Phil had never caught a fish of any kind in his life!

He brought along three of his chefs (past and present) for a "gourmet and adventure" trip to check out Shaka's cuisine and to see what fishing for Giant Black Marlin was all about.

The weather was not the best so we ran from Cooktown up to Hick's Reef, north of Lizard Island, to get what little protection was available. Phil was first up and was given the usual instruction for beginners - "Stay calm, work hard and do what we tell you." Late that first afternoon, he was put to the test.

If you've been fishing the GBR unsuccessfully for years in search of a "grander", right here would be a good place to skip to the next story. On his first day fishing ever, Phil hooked up to a monster! We called it at around 1,100lb and it gave him a hell of a fight. Not wasting too much time jumping on the surface, the fish went deep and fought hard. However, skillful driving by Captain Jared kept Phil in the fight and following the instructions that were coming thick and fast from all over the boat. Phil handled the lumpy conditions like a pro and about a hour after hookup had the fish to the transom and released.

"That's not for the faint hearted" said Phil. "Still, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. With the boys telling you what to do, it was pretty organized."

Just shows what you can do when you take advice. Congratulations Phil.

Shaka's first day on the GBR

November 24, 2005 was Shaka's first day on the Great Barrier Reef and angler Greg Ruddell from Georgia, USA was on his first trip. Greg had fished all over but had always dreamed of fishing for Giant Black Marlin at the 'holy grail' of the billfish world. Conditions were perfect - bright skys and a glassy sea. And two hours after we dropped baits, it got SERIOUSLY better...

On his very first strike, Greg hooked up to his dream fish. What followed was 45 minutes of mayhem that he will remember for the rest of his life.

Right in amongst the fleet just off #5 Ribbon Reef, Greg battled with what we conservatively called a 950lb fish that jumped all over the ocean. We got it to the boat three times before finally releasing it, allowing us (and Kanahoee) to capture some magnificent video.

Congratulations Greg! And what a way to start a season...

Watch the Video

First fish

Enroute to Cairns we stopped at Captain Jared's "secret spot" and dropped a line. Within minutes we had dinner aboard!

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