C-MAP Hot Spot: Ribbon Reefs

Fishing the edge of the Great Barrier Reef requires detailed charts.
FishTrack Staff
The crews that fish the Ribbon Reefs on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef must run over shallow coral bombs to get to and from the fishing grounds to find a safe anchorage. To stay out of harm's way and find the fish you're going to need the latest cartography on your plotter, such as the  4-D charts offered by C-MAP.
This hi-res bathy chart from C-MAP shows how much the water depths vary on the reefs. "The reef itself is like a giant tree snag," says Capt. Tim Richardson who owns and operates http://traditioncharters.com Tradition Charters. "The reef has points, spurs and back eddies caused by the reef structure. The fish sit on these spots and wait for the males to come by as well as food."
Another tool to help captains locate giant black marlin are sea surface temperature charts such as this satellite image provided by FishTrack. Captains watch the water temperatures, current and clarity as the waters move over the reefs. The 2016 black marlin season was a bit tough as a big eddy pushed dirty water over the Ribbon Reefs, noted on the chart above by the line of white circles.
Because the reef is constantly changing, C-MAP relies on user data to continually update their navigational charts and keep users out of harms way. Running into a coral "bombie" on a long-range marlin trip could be disastrous.
Clean blue water finally pushed onto the Ribbon Reefs at the end of the 2016 heavy tackle marlin season. You can see the beautiful blue water right on the reef edge in this Chlorophyl satellite image. Locating clean water is key to finding fish.
"The key here is current, water color and clarity," says Tim Richardson. "The 2016 season more than any has been about finding good water. South current at .5 to 1.5 knots is what we look for with the purple ocean water. That's as good as it gets as this is the water the fish want to breed in." Photo courtesy of Duarte Rato.
Using FishTrack's satellite imagery in conjunction with the latest C-MAP cartography, crews can pinpoint blue water over the reef edge. They can also switch back and forth between cartography views for navigation, trolling and anchoring to get the best possible picture of the structure below the boat.
This FishTrack image shows current speed and direction on top of a chlorophyl image. This shot displays the water clarity and current speed in one image. This information is key to locating the bite zone on the Great Barrier Reef.
When conditions come together, you can bet that a veteran crew like the one on Tradition Charters will find the fish. In 2016 the Tradition caught 58 black marlin including half a dozen between 800 and 950 pounds. Photo by Duarte Rato.

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