Western Angler Seafari in the new Whittley 25SL HT
Written by: Tyrone Yahiya
Heading to the Mackerel Islands is an opportunity not to be missed. So, when I was asked by Western Angler to attend their annual Mackerel Island Seafari, I thought it was a great opportunity to put Whittley's latest release; a 25 Sea Legend Hard Top outboard version through its paces, which happened to be the new All Boats and Caravans demo boat.
The Whittley 25 SL HT is powered by a 250HP Four Stroke Outboard, and the boat & motor were both treated with the PaintSeal Gen-3 Glasscoat Protection prior to our trip to extend the life of the fibreglass and at the same time making it much easier to wash.
The Mackerel Islands is a unique location, set off the top western corner of WA, 12 nautical miles from Onslow – which was our base for the week. It takes approximately 16 hours to travel from Perth to Onslow whilst towing a boat which is a pretty long haul, so packing can be a daunting task to ensure none of your best tackle gear is forgotten.
The main target species before we headed off were: Giant Trevally, Queenfish, Spanish Mackerel and anything else we could find that was happy to eat a lure. I packed a few combos to do the job, which were:
- GT Patriot Designs Black Mafia paired with a Penn Slammer III, spooled up with Varivas Casting PE10
This was my heavy popping rod, great good heavy lured. The stiff top makes light work on the angler when popping large cup lures like Hammer Head I cups or Reefs Edge poppers.
- Indian Pacific GTT10 paired with a Stella 18000, spooled up with Varivas Casting PE8
This rod was built by ASWB Lures, and matching it with the Stella is unreal. This combo is good for larger stick baits and averagely sized poppers.
- Indian Pacific GTT8 paired with a Stella 8000HG and a 16000 Maxel Spool, spooled up with Varivas Casting PE6
This combo is great for those harder to work floating stick baits.
- Indian Pacific Elsea 3 paired with Shimano Vanquish, spooled up with Varivas Casting PE3
This combo is great for light tackle casting and plastics. This combo was my most used by far, and was perfect for casting those 30-50g stick baits.
- Indian Pacific Elsea 5 paired with a Pen Slammer III 5500, spooled up with Varivas Casting PE4
This combo is great for the medium-sized stick baits and heavier plastics. This PE5 rod can cast 130g with ease, so it’s perfect for targeting mackerel on topwater.
When you land on the island, the staff are there & ready to help you unload the boat and give you a mooring number. You can get fuel on the island every night which is helpful as it saved you lugging jerry cans to and from the boat. You just simply nose up on the beach and the fill it up from the tank that’s lugged down to the shore by tractor – you just have to be careful not to fill up on the wrong hole… You don’t want to put 75L of fuel into a rod holder now do you? (This is an inside joke from the trip btw)
We fished at Rosily Cays a few times throughout the week. On the first day fishing, we had awesome economy and it only took us 8 minutes to get there. Don’t know what everyone else was doing as they took 45 minutes… So, when we realised we accidentally went to Sandy Cay and not Rosily Cay, we moved over to where everyone else was at Rosily Cays and we killed it on topwater, targeting Queenfish trout and Spangled Emperor on ASWB Zipbaits and Redtank Lures - these 20-40g lures are the perfect size for this sort of fishing.
The drop-offs around Rosily Cays proved good for Spanish Mackerel if you could get around the sharks. I lost a few ASWB and Redtank Lures here to the Mackerel snapping me off and maybe the odd wind knot. We put a couple of Halco Laser Pro’s in the 20m mark in depth and caught a solid Coral Trout – 800mm long.
We gave jigging a shot out the back of Rosalie Cay around the 40m mark but, between getting sharked and snipped by Mackerel, we decided it was time to give up after an hour or so.
Airlie Island was awesome – we were sight casting Tuna and Mackerel in 1m of water as they were smashing the bait. We also got a few Spangos on stick baits over the coral bombies around the island. We also had a few casts with the heavy gear for GTs but, it was very quiet on that scene.
Bessier Island is another awesome fishing spot! Casting Reefs Edge Barraslam 40g poppers and ASWB SS25 around the queenie schools made for some exciting topwater action. In amongst the schools of queenies, were some good Spanish Mackerel. These were absolutely unreal in the shallow water and put on an awesome air show. We fished the back side of Bessier for a full day using ASWB Redtank Zipbait and CB One Stick baits. We also fished plastics in the 5-10m mark, rigged on super light jig heads. These killed it on table fish, including a solid chinaman – these bad boys pull like freight trains & make more fun, even on the light gear.
Now, to talk about how the Whittley 25 SL HT performed… What a beast!
First and foremost is the comfortable ride she offered, which made the trip to and from the fishing grounds enjoyable. Whenever I trimmed the motor up & down, it handled like a gem & the trim tabs just made the ride better when you had 3 people standing on one side of the boat while moving & made for a pretty sweet ride into the chop or with a following sea. The boat has plenty of storage, where we put all our fishing gear (and you can just imagine how much there was from 4 of us). The hard top came in hand when we were taking water over the bow in the rough weather on one of the days we went out. We all stayed nice & dry and just flicked the windscreen wipers on and off we went. She handled like an absolute dream so, if you want to find out for yourself, feel free to contact me and I’ll put you onto the boys at All Boats & Caravans.
All up, this trip which was organised by Western Angler and hosted on Thevenard Island, was an absolute blast and everyone that came had a ball & went home with some great fish! The crew and staff from Mackerel Islands were great, easy to get along with and always happy to help.
I’ll be there next year for sure!
Here's some pictures from the trip: