|Russell Stuart has a lot to answer for. Having purchased a back edition of the SA Angler from GotOne Stepney, I read with bone chilling excitement the 1994 article "The Ledge".
The story tells of a land based location on Fleurieu Peninsula which rivals the fishing experience of Eyre Peninsula and Coffin Bay.
Throughout the article are vague clues and hints as to where this location might be, and the gripping tale concludes with the authors advice to get your hands on a detailed map, look for the right features, and reap your reward from the rocks.
I read the article seven times, studied the photographs, visited "The Map shop" in Adelaide, and phoned my good friend Timothy Moore, a renowned journalist, scholar, keen fisherman and very astute punter.
Over the course of three long evenings we pieced the vague clues together, and eventually decided upon three possible locations.
The discouraging factor was the arduous 45 minute trek from the car across rough terrain of which Russell Stuart speaks of in no uncertain terms.
With three days to spare, Timothy and I wasted no time in stocking up on bait, ice, beer and tackle and exploring our potential sites.
As expected, the location was not to be found easily. Infact, it was late on the third day that we realised we may be close. Yes - there was the limestone scrub, "heart break" ridge, and at long last, the lone bush which signifies the entrance to the ledge.
By the time we had arrives at this pristine location we were aching, exhausted, grumpy and covered in weeping cuts and abrasions.
I sensed a definite feeling of deja vu, as I tossed a handful of berley from the rock platform into 35 feet of still blue water. Tim's reaction was similar to his 1994 counterpart, Jim.
Aghast and giddy as the flashing silver and bright colours attacked and engulfed the potent concoction I had dispatched. More surprise was to follow as I spotted a monster Kingfish lurking just metres off the rocks.
It was so large that I immediately realised it was not a wild fish but one of the recently escaped Kingies from a nearby breeding stock facility.
With trembling hands I tied a halco sparkler to my 30lb monofilament line and lobbed it infront of the snout which resulted in an immediate hook up.
I had the beast hooked up for maybe 10 seconds before it lept clear from the water and spat the hooks, then retreated to the heart of the pacific.
Before my disappointment could grow, I realised that Timbo was reeling in his second Sweep - a two pound monster which would later become a bench mark as an "Average" sweep for the area. I quickly launched squid and cockle baits and soon had seven rock cod, three sweep and a butterfly gurnard cruising about in the naturally formed keeper pools in the igneous rock.
A girlish, high pitched yelp from Tim told me that he was onto something new, and I was right. Ravenous schools of Tommies and Gar had moved in and were destroying every berley and bait we tossed over the ledge.
We bagged a dozen of each before the schools drifted by.
It was getting dark but neither of us cared. I tossed out a squid jag and soon had two of the ink secreting puppies in a keeper pool before I heard another squeal from Timothy.
A quick glance in his direction confirmed my suspicion - the Kingfish had returned.
I re-rigged with triple ganged hooks and the biggest pilchard left in the block before plopping the morsel in the general vicinity.
The result was again an instant hook up, and my early estimation was that this Kingy was in excess of sixty pounds.
Sadly I was broken off within a minute, but my heart was pumping and my adrenaline flowing with gay abandon.
It was in pitch darkness that we made our way back to the car, stumbling, panting and cursing. The 4 km hike saw that we returned almost our entire catch to the water, untainted after being captive in large aerated pools.
I still feel the aches and pains of scaling the numerous rocky outcrops and the swollen ankle where I twisted my foot in a craggy nook in the volcanic stone.
I am still recovering from the three sleepless nights I spent, sipping coffee and redbull and pondering the existence of this fishing oasis, on an otherwise barren peninsula.
Timbo tells me that it is his best ever fishing experience, and he's been on a 7 month sailing adventure throughout the top end and Paupa New Guinea - That in itself makes it all worth while.
The grim satisfaction we both feel of solving the mystery is equally as rewarding. In hindsight we have both learned a very important lesson - Fish smarter and harder, not longer.
Many thanks to Russell Stuart and "Jim" for the interesting and insightful article, their perseverance and knowledge.