The long passages up the coast can be quite monotonous and a tad boring at times. Neville can read which keeps him entertained (his speed reading has hammered our Kindle account though), along with his card playing on his iPad.
However, I like many people get motion sickness. So what do I do on these long sails, sometimes 8-10 hours out at sea? Pretty much nothing.
But now I fish.
I met Leanne on Easy Tiger very early in our trip north. Leanne was very keen on fishing. She talked enthusiastically about trolling lures behind ET. I became interested. She talked about her fishing conquests way south, after they left WA. She prides herself on her ability to not only catch the fish, but also on the cleaning and filleting of the fish. A one-woman show! Steve does do his bit though as he points out. He spots the strike, he slows ET down and he helps land the fish with their gaff and net. A team effort really.
Leanne got me back in to fishing. My family grew up on the inland lake waters of Eildon. My grandparents built a 34′ steel cabin cruiser in the backyard of their suburban house in Lilydale. It was called the Vernley (Verna and Wes). My grandfather taught my brother and I to fish. We caught trout and redfin using spinners, wobblers, jaggers and worms. They were very special memories growing up. Brad is still a very keen fisherman today in Port Stephens where he owns a fishing boat and a lakes cruiser that he has rebuilt himself.
We spent a few days early in our friendship with ET in Forster/Tuncurry. With Neville’s encouragement, I decided to give fishing another go. Leanne’s enthusiasm had rubbed off. So, on her advice, we sought out the local BCF store. A long walk according to Google maps, but we had all day, so off we trundled. A conversation along the way about the $ that we needed to spend did cover each end of the spectrum (Leanne’s was more realistic, Neville’s not). After many kms we finally reached the BCF store, feeling a little weary and gruff (remember Neville doesn’t really like walking). We did enjoy the banter with the BCF salesperson about the gear we needed but we were very glad Leanne was there to give welcomed advice. Several hundred dollars later, with two rods and reels, lures, hooks and sinkers, a tackle box and an empty wallet, we booked a cab and returned to our boats.
We sailed many miles to the Gold Coast after our first BCF visit … with a lure out. No luck. I didn’t really mind as I was a bit uneasy about what we were going to do if I actually caught a fish! I was also learning. How much line do I put out? How deep does the lure need to be? Which lure do I use? How do I tie a knot (Neville does this, although I am now mastering this myself)? What if I catch a fish??!! It was all new to me. My early days of fishing were in inland waters with a casting rod, not with a trolling reel and big lures and big hooks and big fish.
Then we had Greg on board. And we thought we were all set up?! Greg arrived with his fishing gear (and Lynn) and I’m not sure how he didn’t exceed the luggage weight limits. While he was grateful we had a few bits and pieces, he brought the serious stuff. We were all excited. Greg was going to catch fish!
And he did. Not as many as he would have liked and not the fish he would have liked. But he was entertained on every sailing passage and we were entertained watching him. He spent his birthday with the hooker (scuba version please) untangling our prop at 8 am in the morning but that didn’t stop him (he did the same the next morning too). We did learn one very important thing while Greg was on board. The fish you catch up here are BIG!
So with this current wave of enthusiasm I continued to throw a line in but with limited success. The Whitsunday’s seemed to be all fished out with many boats commenting the same. However, I did manage to catch and land a lovely tuna as we motored through Solway Passage after a visit to Whitehaven Beach with Abbey and Joanne on board. A chaotic catch in very choppy seas, with Joanne suffering a bout of sea sickness as a result. Tuna pasta that night though.
The fishing enthusiasm did continue. Leanne and I joined a fishing charter while at Gloucester Passage. We were so excited. Leanne was only going if we had freezer space for her fish, her freezer being full. Early start at 6 am. Alas, only a few small fish caught along with a few sharks. We did keep my shark for dinner that night. I think Mick felt sorry for us.
Since Greg’s visit we have revisited BCF many times. We have come to agree with one of our boating friends that BCF stands for “bloody costly fishing”. We have learned a lot from talking to other yachties. Most troll a lure while passaging and most catch fish too. We visited Aqualibrium (along with the crew from Zoo) one evening after a long day’s sail to Keswick Island, our first stop southbound. We had just had another ‘fish that got away’ day. Both Aqualibrium and Zoo had caught fish on the way. In fact we were invited over to enjoy their sashimi which they had prepared using the yellowfin tuna they had caught that day. I grilled both boats about their line, tackle and lures. Conclusion … big fish need big gear!
( A side story … While sitting on Aqualibrium the evening we enjoyed the sashimi, Gerry had a line out with bait on it. He also had the fish scraps from the yellowfin tuna tied to a floating buoy from his boat nearby, to attract the fish. It did attract the fish. A very big fish. As we all looked over to the bobbing buoy being dragged under water, a very very large shark came to the surface as it devoured the buoy’s fish scraps. A rather frightful moment indeed. Lesson … don’t tie your fish scraps to your boat, especially if you want to have a swim … which we had all just done!)
We have upsized our tackle and line three times now. It was either just stop fishing and simply buy our fish, or upsize our tackle. We now have the strongest possible line and Neville now makes my wire tracers for me. We were catching fish but the tackle and the line were breaking on too many occasions and there are monster fish out there with razor teeth that just chomp the lot off, even through the wire. We had so many ‘ fish that got away’ stories it was not funny. We were losing so many lures ($$). I even tie the rod on to the holder now after hearing a story from a neighboring boat about a fish taking their rod too. Bloody costly fishing!
We are sitting out a blow in Bundaberg as I write this. I was determined to write about my fishing after a caught a fish with my new gear. And I did. It is always a team effort though. Neville helps with the knots and wire tracers, but his most important job is to land the fish. We caught a lovely spanish mackerel on the way here from Lady Musgrave. A lovely eating fish. And I’m happy now!
PS. We are about to sit down to a free seafood platter for two, spanner crabs, Moreton Bay bugs, prawns, and smoked trout. A freeby from the Bundaberg marina for being a Shaggers (SICYC) member! Check out the pic.