Fishing on a sunny Sunday

I WENT fishing with my mates Max and Bobby last Sunday.

We headed off from Newhaven ramp at about 7.30am, along with about a hundred other boats! Looked like Bourke St on a busy day….

We headed out past Kilkunda, through the heads to go “outside” as Max says. We were in his 5.5m aluminium boat, pushed along by the old 70hp Bombardier. Heading down to near the wind turbines at Wonthaggi, looking for our land marks and about 42m of water; 17-18kms out of San Remo, a few kms offshore, we put our lines in and started to drift.

Max had spent the day before rigging up a line for “mako”, a huge big hook on a steel trace about 3mtrs long, suspended in the water by a balloon. The balloon drifted out to about a hundred mtrs behind the boat, with a big chunk of squid as the bait. If that balloon goes under, we all get excited!

The fishing was not great, we started slowly with a few good size flatties and the odd gurnet or two. I got a couple of the latter, but they were a bit small to rate as “keepers”. I am extremely careful with these ugly brutes, my cousin got stuck in the knee by one of their forefinger size spikes and ended up in the hospital, such was the swelling and the pain. I wore shorts and bare feet! Whoa…

As the morning progressed, so did our catch, and our variety of fish. Max pulled in a couple of barracouta, a bit on the small side. Then two beautifully marked skates, smiling their funny little mouths at us. They all went back to King Neptune. Bobby was pulling in flatties with the war cry of “look at this guys, fish of the day, fish of the day”.

Not quite, but nice enough.

Bobby was using some old barracouta as bait, the squid I was using did not seem to be doing the trick. Then Max hooked into something that seemed promising, his rod indicated something big! When we got it up, it turned out to be a leopard shark. A bit over a metre long, he was beautifully marked with dapples of dark grey on a light grey body. Max said “give him a kiss Ian before we put him back”. I patted him first, like a big grey piece of sandpaper, then bent down and pretended to kiss his head. (he had a good set of choppers).

Splash! He hit the water and headed straight down, to disappear into the depths of the green water.

Although the fishing was not all that flash, the weather and the wildlife were great. We had a few albatross and a couple dozen silver gulls hanging around the boat. We threw a few bits of squid out to the albatross and one started getting quite close to the boat. I dangled a bit of squid over the side and called on him to take it. He slowly made his way to the side of the boat and cautiously pecked the squid out of my hand! Not once, but several times.

Picture this: I’m out in the ocean, kms from land in over 130’ of green water, and a wild bird, as big as a large goose, is eating out of my hand. Unreal!

Then a little fur seal paid us a visit. We called him Sammy. He swam around the boat, doing all sorts of manouvres, then flipped on his back and clapped his fins together! Bobby said it was like being at Sea World and not having to pay…

All of a sudden, shouts went up from the back of the boat – a mako had taken the bait.

I looked up to see the balloon go under a couple of times and a great swirl and splash of water a hundred yards or so from the boat. Max grabbed his line to set the bait, but before he could, the mako had thrown the bait.

When we pulled it in for a look, the bait had turned a little and the barb of the hook was not exposed enough to do the trick. The one that got away…

Back to the job of landing flatties. I sat up the front of the boat, straw hat, shorts and singlet, sunnies and sun screen, enjoying the smell of the sea, the company of my two companions and the beautiful sun shine.

Who in his right mind would NOT want to be a fisherman?

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