Ribbon Reefs

Ribbon Reefs – Great Barrier Reef

Each year for the last two years we have headed to the Ribbon Reefs on the Great Barrier Reef for Xmas.

And this year was no exception!

After the amazing trip we had to Princess Charlotte Bay in October, we had planned a two week trip. The plan was to spend some time at Lizard Island (we love Lizard) plus return to some other gems we found while returning from the Princess Charlotte Bay trip.

Sadly the weather had other ideas!

But not before we spent a lovely few days at the Ribbon Reefs.

Not only did a long term weather event ruin our extended plans, but an afternoon storm sent us packing!

Luckily we were on hand to help out a father and son boatie in their tinny, taken by surprise (as we were) when a storm cell developed right on top of us.

Ribbon Reefs – Outer Barrier Reef

I love travelling to the Ribbons.

I spent much of my early adulthood out there on the marlin boats, living, snorkelling, spearing and fishing on the outer reef.

Don’t we love it when we get a good weather window. Glassy days and Balmy nights.

The Ribbon reefs have great anchorages in a south east to north east air flow.

But anything from the north and west is a nightmare particularly in storm season.

Entering and exiting the reef area is best done from 10-3 so you can see the bommies.

Plus you’ll need the sun overhead to see the sandy patches for anchoring. Lest you damage the reef and potentially lose your anchor.

Overcast days are also difficult and why we installed a forward facing panoptix Livescope trasducer into Mood Swings.

This time on the way to the Ribbon Reefs we stopped at the Hope Islands for Xmas Day.

What a glorious little gem that can be reached easily from the Bloomfield River.

Stick around after the video for some photos of the trip below.


Fishing was short and sweet!

Fishing during our Ribbon Reefs trip was short and sweet.

Karen and our guest, local artist Daphne (see her art on insta) were very keen on snorkelling and you know what they say?

Happy wife happy life!

So we had a ball exploring and taking advantage of the fab weather.

Of course I did manage a few drops on a Wonky Hole we found in our travels, yielding one mackerel and two nice large-mouth nannygai.

It can be tricky fishing these spots in Mood Swings hence we often drift.

Our 6.5 m blue boat is the best option for fishing Wonky Holes on the GBR

Levitator jigs catching large mouth nannygai

The Levitator jigs working a treat catching great fish in just a couple of drops. Which is just as well. Since it's quite hard to position Mood Swings on such a small target like at Wonky Hole.This is why we prefer to drift fish when in the big boat.


To get yourself onto good fish like this, here are a couple of options...

  1. Grab a few of our Levitator jigs.
  2. Learn to find Wonky Holes (if you live inside the Great Barrier Reef)
  3. Dial in your Fish Finder! I show you how in my Sounder Skills 2 course.

Photo Highlights of our trip to the Ribbons.

Our new videograher Stephen Duscher came with us on this trip for the first time and all we can say is WOW! We loved his camera work and editing for the video plus the images he captured are so beautiful. You can see more of his great pics on instagram > Stephen Lucky Duscher.

Hope Islands

Hope Island

Hope Island is a magical little place and we stop here often. Can be reached via Bloomfield or Cooktown. Note the pied imperial pigeons (little white dots) in the trees? Since it was quite dark he had a longer exposure time and you can also see the white lines as the birds fly in to roost.

Hope Island anchorage

Mood Swings parked up behind Hope Island on Xmas day. Great anchorage on the way to the Ribbon Reefs from Cairns.

M.V. Debut on Emily Reef (S/E of Cooktown)

MV Debut on Emily Reef

Interesting history about this wreck, sistership to the Rainbow Warrior, high and dry on Emily/Osterland Reef about 35 miles S/E of Cooktown. You can read more about her on this ships nostaligia thread or some first hand accounts from people that knew the skipper on our Facebook post about the ship.

Shipwreck on Emily Reef

On a clear day, exploring this wreck is a must do.

Exploring in the tender

Karen loves exploring in the tender. Really cuts into my fishing time!

Rusted pirate ship

The rusted holes look like a face. Forty years in service and now forty years on the reef.


Boat life with dogs

Travelling with the dogs is such a joy! The provide so much unconditional love.

Boat life

Living and working together does have it's moments... Most of the time it works out.

Outer Barrier Reef

The Outer Barrier Reef and Ribbon Reefs

Anchoring up on the outer barrier reef during our trip to Lena Reef and the Ribbon reefs.

Trip Home

Small sand cay on Barrier Reef

These small sand cays can provide a bit of protection during afternoon storm activity - as we found out.

Storm clouds and boat at sea

The calm before the storm. After a quick swim on the cay we came back to the boat thinking the storm would pass to the south - not so.

Snapper Island off Daintree River

Pulling the pin due to storm activity, we missed our stop at Snapper Island but will return! It's a great anchorage and we have sheltered behind it before, but not managed to go ashore yet... next time!

Snapper Island

You can't see it from this angle but Snapper Island looks like a croc when seen from north or south. Another great pit stop on the way to and from the Ribbon Reefs.

To find out what gear we used on this trip, check out our gear and tackle cheat sheet.

get the free pdf

Well I hope you enjoyed our Xmas trip to the Ribbon Reefs.

If you're new here, please check out some of our tips and tricks in previous blog posts. We have over 200 now (see below).

And for those that want to maximise their fishing time and get onto some great fish, take a look at our fish smarter courses.

Many people sell themselves short by assuming they "know" how to fish.

And for sure they do! But there are certain key things to focus on that most people don't give enough attention to.

They spread themselves too thin.

Like spending time and money purchasing more lures.

And wasting time on YouTube.

For sure YouTube has some good info at times. But sifting through the rubbish is a waste of your time and energy.

Unlike YouTube creators making videos as a side hustle, (most of whom trot out the same misinformation), fishing has been my day job (and my livelihood) for 30 years.

There's a saying... "Eagles don't take flying lessons from chickens".

So if you want to focus on the right stuff (from someone who has done the hard yards as a fishing guide for decades) and start fishing smarter not harder...

Take a look at our Fish Smarter courses.



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About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

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