A CHANCE meeting has seen three Ipswich lads take away lifelong memories of the Fraser Coast after hooking what was believed to be a 200kg Queensland grouper and 2.5m bull shark on Monday, all with a perfect stranger aboard their boat.
Chris Hind, his life-long school mate and his 14-year-old son had been on an unsuccessful fishing road trip since last Thursday, having travelled from Brisbane to Fitzroy Island, Port Alma, Curtis Island and 1770, before packing up their soggy sandwiches and heading to Hervey Bay.
Their luck changed after hooking up with local fishing guru Chad Runnalls, who the boys had stopped to get some advice on bait and tackle at the Urangan Pier the day before.
The soft-hearted Mr Runnalls found the boys once again unsuccessfully fishing at the pier the next day and, before he knew it, he was on their tinny guiding them out to the Fairway Buoy, about 12km east of Hervey Bay, where fish were guaranteed to bite.
Targeting shark, the last thing the boys ever expected to see was a massive grouper at the end of the 1000-pound line.
This is the second time this year that Mr Runnalls has accidentally hooked a grouper in Hervey Bay, the first being off the Urangan Pier.
Both were released unharmed.
"They were just country people who come up to the Bay for a bit of fish - they'd been here for four days and caught nothing," Mr Runnalls said.
"We end up getting the biggest fish you've ever seen ... a 200kg grouper.
"The fish just sat there while I cut the hook out of the side of the mouth ... I had my whole arm in there and cut the hooks from the inside, pulled them out and she swam away, while we sat there all drained!
"They were the happiest people ever.
"They had never seen a fish like that in their life."
Using the same mac tuna for bait, the same line and the same cable, it wasn't even 30 minutes later that the bull shark was caught and released soon after.
"They reckon it's the best thing that's ever happened to them in their life.
"Catching the grouper, all the emotions just come out and all of a sudden, half hour later, to hook up to shark as well was just phenomenal.
'It was absolutely hectic."
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Mr Hind agreed, adding that the once-in-lifetime experience will be hard to top.
"We would never have gone where we did ... we were only going to go out to the end of the pier.
"We'll never catch anything like that again I don't reckon.
"You gotta love it! He's a good bloke, that's for sure."
All of the action was caught on Mr Runnall's Go-Pro camera.
Anglers are reminded that Queensland grouper are on the no-take species list and if caught, should be released immediately.
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