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Letters to the Editor
Fish Photo’s for Dummies
28 North West Island
Glenn George - Sailfish
Fraser’s Edge Main Photo by Gavin Smithers - Blue Marlin, Brett Vercoe
To Beak - Saily
40 Join the Dots
The Black Jew
46 Reel Gun
Pin the Cobia
Abrolhos - “The Batavia”
often found mooching openly on top of such platforms and while often weary, they can be taken with slow steady movements and a longer shot. Sea Sweep and Skippy will also often wander up at this point and if you choose not to take them, they will often keep you company for the rest of your time in the water. As the depth increases, Breaksea Cod and Nannagai (Red Bight Fish) can be encountered. While the latter species is often associated with waters greater than 30 metres deep, reports of them being taken in 15 metres are not uncommon. Again, the temperate species fashion show continues with the Nannagai’s immaculate gloss red sheen, but the razor sharp edges on their scales can see ungloved hands gripping fish quickly end up in deep wounds. It is amazing how much the waters of the Southern shore can change between days. I have stood on bluffs while being stung by the rain, battered by 50 knot winds and shaken from the percussion of giant waves slamming into the granite many metres below, only to return to the same point on the following day to find a sea no rougher than a swimming pool. It is a truly spectacular coastline, and there is nothing better than returning to your base camp, which lays nestled in fresh scented peppermint trees just off the beach, and rounding off the day with a beer and some barbequed fish cooked over hard wood coals. For me, the Southern shore provides the whole package. It provides the challenge and excitement of reaching truly secluded destinations and the promise of fine piscatorial rewards.
All hell broke loose as the two of these brutes became embroiled in a bloody tug of war while imbedded on my tormented 7mm Hawaiian. They acted as an automatic burley machine, creating a plume of blood and scales that engulfed all of us, so I worked quickly to end the furor by dispatching both while still impaled. The granite and sand transition also seems to be the best place to search for Green and Brownlip Abalone, and it is often safer than wedging yourself into shallow awash sections for the smaller and less delectable Roe’s Abalone. At this point in time I also keep an eye out for Blue Swimmer Crabs which may be semi-buried in the sand below, Southern Rock Lobster sitting amongst the ledges, additions that make for a most memorable fishermans basket. As the profile of the reef drops onto limestone platform, low lying kelp and large algae’s begin to dominate. The striking Queen Snapper are
Happy Turtles - Photo by Brett Vercoe NW Island
of Turtles, huge Stingrays and Shovelnose Sharks in the shallows for them to drift in on. I had so much pleasure seeing my 6yr old swimming with all these great animals up close and personal as well as all the colourful coral and the fish associated with the area. On one snorkelling trip we went on, there was four of us, Mary-ann. (Wife), Caitlin (our 6yr daughter) Renee (mates 9yr daughter) and myself. As per usual, I jumped in first, I looked down and saw a reasonably sized Whitetip Reef Shark cruise through. I told Caitlin and Renee to jump in and see a shark, which they did, but as the shark started to swim away they wanted to follow with me calling them back. To them it was no threat and they were just sharing its domain. I also took Caitlin and Mary-ann out line fishing a few times and both had a ball with Mary-ann getting some great fish, which she had to let go as they looked too pretty to hurt.
Rob & Gordon - Spangled Emperor
Towards the end of the trip the weather calmed right down so we thought a bit of spearing
Mary-Ann Red Emperor
exploration was in order, so we loaded up the boats and headed out to find Innamincka Shoal. Well, we arrived in the area and sounded out the bottom til we found the shallowest place. The water was clear, but alas, there was a raging current that made it hard or should I say impossible. You would see a good fish and wave to it on the way past as you could not get back to it. It’s a big area and has some dead spots as well, but I spied some nice fish in deep water that made them too much like hard work.
Dazza & Rob - Coronation Trout
So off we went to spot X at “Just South of nowhere wide”. We anchored up and Lee was first in which was a bit of a surprise, Ha Ha. Sticking his head up he calls out “there’s hundreds of Spangles down here, give me my Big McComb gun.” Now back in the boat there was a panic on gearing up, Rob grabbed his 1.4m Edge and I grabbed my normal Sydney gun a 1150 KES. By the time I Jumped in Lee was putting a Big Spangled in the boat and Rob had one on, well the school was now a bit edgy and hard to approach but one was silly enough to get too close and whack, I had him. Now it was time to get a few fish for tea, so we just hunted Trout for camp which there was no shortage of, nice fish in the 2-5kg range. Rob drifted out to deep water and nailed some nice Coronation Trout, Dazza our boat driver even jumped in and got a cracker of a one. In a short time we had enough for dinner so we just swam around enjoying all the fish…. and there was plenty. One very large Red Throat nearly tempted me as they are wary to approach but this one was holed up in about 10m of water under a ledge and thought I couldn’t see him, still, I left him for another day. The water had totally glassed off so the trip back was very pleasant with us just chatting and talking about the great day we had. The dreaded last day came around, packing
up camp is such a bugger but soon forgotten on the trip back to Gladstone with a couple of beers and your mates. Leaning on the back rail of the Curtis Endeavour sipping a beer with Rob and Lee, looking at the happy faces of my wife, and daughter, I am truly a lucky man.
Steven Boyd 3.96kg Pearl Perch (L) & James Sakker 4.735kg Pearl Perch (R) - New Australian Record
by Julian Chan photos Michael Takach It’s funny how one word – “Jewies” can instantly double your heart rate and ruin your breath hold. It’s even worse when it’s followed by “there’s over 50 of them, all big!”. Thanks for the kind words JLo! We are up at South West Rocks in Autumn 2007. I’m doing the usual swim, it seems almost routine now. Dive through the murk, touch the bottom and carefully crawl towards the dropoff, ascend, breathe up and repeat. I’m looking for a flash of silver/bronze, listening for a croak or tail thump that might betray a school of Mulloway. This day is not my day, it’s JLo who surfaces hooting with excitement. He’s secured a great fish, a 12kg Mulloway and with a handful of words reduces me to abovementioned breathless wreck, frantically searching for the school. I scour the joint and I mean SCOUR it for Jewies. On the reef, over the dropoff, on the sand working in a zig-zag pattern so I cover every square metre where the Jew could be schooling. I’m hovering on the surface breathing
up with a light current running West to East. The water is 18m deep and I’m almost out of ground to search. Out of the corner of my eye I sense some movement and from the bottom spiral a school of Cobia. They do the usual circle work, spiralling around me, eyeing me off at close range. I estimate them to range from 7kg up to 12kg, a school of half a dozen or so. Diving just under the surface, I focus on one fish in the school, line it up and with last minute indecision decide his buddy to the right is a little bigger. So it’s a quick change of direction with my 1.4m EDGE and the school gets jittery so I take a quick shot at the fleeing fish. It’s a hit! I watch the spear pass through the Cobia just behind the dorsal fin before the fish surges to the bottom with a few powerful kicks. The next few minutes are played lightly until I can follow the line down to inspect the shot. The fish is just pinned near the tail, thrashing wildly and doesn’t seem to be hurt or slowing down anytime soon as it tries to seek refuge underneath a huge Bull Ray. So now instead of being played lightly, this game is played really lightly, I don’t put any pressure on it at all. I do a 360 degree scan on the surface, I can’t
see any of my dive buddies or their floats. Damn you Murphy and your stupid law! I’m alone in this fight, I am not enjoying it! 10 minutes of feathering the line back and forth and the Cobia isn’t showing any signs of tiring soon. I take another dive and the Cobia is on a patch of sand in a gutter, kicking up clouds of sand. I try and pin him to the sand but he has different ideas and moves onto the reef. Here I can see the spear is holding through 8cm of flesh, flopper engaged and the tear is still very small. I bite the bullet and gradually pull the fish to the surface, which isn’t working in my favour because he is coming up tail first. Two kicks and he’s back on the bottom and I’ve lost metres of line. Slowly, slowly is the key and soon I have my hands on the gun, then mono and finally the spear. I grab the fish and wrap it up, arms, legs, fish and spear all one large mass until I can subdue the fish. In my arms it feels bigger than what I estimated, its head is huge! Back on dry land that afternoon it pulled the scales to 18kg. It was a particularly long and skinny fish, it’s becoming a running joke that I only spear the skinny ones, and in the tail too!
by Paul McKeown 74
he sun is liquid and runs below the horizon; her orange heart is a bloody smudge on the edge of the Western horizon, diffuse and overcome with the shroud of a cool Winters evening.
The tremulous cry of a sea bird echoes near at hand, then further away as fragile wings bear the sound westward with the last light of a day already gone. I stand lost in thought at the end of a narrow jetty in the middle of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands. Would that days here could last longer, I would be immersed still in the bosom of the sea and not wandering in the memories and recollections of the day just ended. I am still damp from hand feeding a dozen 2030kg Samsonfish in 8-9ft of water at the end of the little jetty, they tried to eat my camera, good job they failed. I can still see their enormous bodies cruising the shallows, hunting for squid I suspect. My mind still circles the events of today like a seagull inspecting the bones of a dead fish. A Spanish Mackerel is the target, and while most spearfishermen may think them ordinary or easily shot, I have not as yet had the pleasure. A fact my friends do not let me forget, although I suspect it weighs far more on my conscious than theirs. The beginning of today was waking in my top bunk aboard a 64ft cray boat with the dawn light illuminating a grey, windswept sea. The smell, sounds and roll of a boat underway lends lightness to the soul and keen anticipation to the mind, today perhaps, would be my day. As it turned out it wasnâ€™t.
I am still damp from hand feeding a dozen 20-30kg Samsonfish in 8-9ft of water at the end of the little jetty, they tried to eat my camera, good job they failed. I can still see their enormous bodies cruising the shallows, hunting for squid I suspect.
I watched as schools of Shark Mackerel swam past, shot some good reef species and waited, and waited. It seemed everyone saw Spanish except me, only Koos however, shot and landed a great Spanish. Taking images of other peoples Spanish Mackerel seems to be a habit of late. Could I have done it differently? Burleyed more, or spent all my time on the dropoff instead of chasing reef fish? Perhaps. I reach a conclusion; enthusiasm without expectation is the key to enjoying the moment and improving your diving. Not worrying about what might show up, but what is there and taking full advantage of the moment. Dinner is being served, the smell and sounds carry to me at the end of the jettyâ€Śmy grumbling belly wins and I make haste lest the human seagulls leave me little to peck at.