|The following story is a recount of what just transpired over the last two days. The names remain the same but only the fish sizes have been exaggerated, because after all, it is a fishing story.
A good mate of mine, Rob, who has lived in Alice Springs all his life gave me a call a few weeks back to tell me he was heading down this way and would like to catch up and maybe wet a line with me. As he lives in Alice he does not do much fishing and loves to do so when the chance arises.
He arrived on Wed morning at about 11am and we got the pleasantries out the way. I told him it was good to see he was still taking those ugly pills, and I think he replied with something that made reference to handsomeless. Yep nothing had changed in 10 years.
With that out the way we discussed the plan for the next few days. The weather was shocking on the Wednesday but after checking the charts on the internet I told him that we would get out on Thursday. I explained it would be a bit choppy in the morning and as we were heading South, we would be pushing into a fair old chop.
With that out the way we readied all the rods and reels and made sure we had ice and bait. When I opened the freezer Rob saw a Snapper in there from last week. Nothing big about 6kg I suppose. Gee he said I’ve never caught anything that big. I assured him that we should at least get something around that size but would be trying for bigger fish first.
This got him excited and also put some pressure on me. I hoped I would not let him down.
The alarm sounded at 4am on Thursday and we got up and was at the ramp by 5am. Wind was still fairly strong and there was not another boat at the ramp. It was definitely going to be a slow push down South.
As we rounded the breakwall the chop rolled in and I could see the worry in Robs face. I did nothing to relieve that worry and enjoyed seeing him nervous. The conversation was hilarious. Every question somehow related to safety gear, rescue resources, and sharks.
All the while Rob was trying to sound cool and non fazed about the whole matter. To make matters worse as the sun started to shed some light Rob could see we were heading straight into what appeared to be a big black storm front, this got the whole safety/rescue/shark conversation fired up again.
As it was rough I thought I would try some close drops and see how we went, unfortunately for Rob they were empty. This meant we were going further South, and closer to that storm. We ended up about 30km South of Whyalla and when we arrived and sounded over the lump I knew the trip was worthwhile. The sounder showed a massive school of Snapper over the drop.
I got the rods ready and checked the drag settings on Robs reel. I then positioned the boat to drift back over the structure and told him “welcome to Whyalla fella, see if you can count to 20 “. We dropped our baits and I reckon he would have been struggling to get to 15, bang, bang we were both hooked into solid fish.
This lifted the pressure off my shoulders and seeing the delight in Robs face as his fish peeled line from his reel and did its best to pull him in the water was great. Robs fish would have gone 9kg and once gaffed and in the boat Rob was stoked. Mine was a bit smaller and as it was lip hooked I let him go and off he swam.
After that we baited up and went around again, for the same result. Bang, bang another two screaming drags and two massive smiles. We both boated fish around the 8-9kg mark again. Rob could not believe what he was experiencing, he reckoned you only read about this in magazines. Next drift produced the same result, two instant hookups and two screaming drags.
Once at the boat we selected the less stressed of the two and let him go and kept the fourth for our bag limit.
We then did the photo thing and got some shots for the memory. Rob was over the moon. I explained that we now had the enviable problem of having to leave this spot and look for smaller fish. Something that had us both laughing.
We stopped and drifted a few drops on the return leg and picked up about 10 pannies I suppose. I let Rob fish and I just skippered and helped out and took pictures.
Back at the Marina I explained to Rob that he could feed the Dolphins if he wanted. I think he thought I was pulling his leg but sure enough, the dolphins arrived and put on a show. It is a great way to end a great days fishing, especially for a visitor from the desert.
That night we had a few beers and talked about the days events. It took about 4 beers before we decided we would have another go for a couple of hours in the morning.
The next day we were blessed with calm seas and a beautiful sunrise over the ranges. We arrived at our spot at about 6:30am and the sounder confirmed what I already knew. We would not be here long to get our four fish again today.
First drift we both hooked solid fish and the reels were screaming, I knew mine was a big fish and judging by the bend in Robs rod and the scream of the drag I knew he was about to beat his biggest fish to date as well. Robs fish came to the boat first and I gaffed a nice 11.2kg Snapper, all the while trying to keep mine on the end of my line.
A short while later I gaffed my fish. “That’s a horse” exclaimed Rob, It was a nice solid 13.8kg model.
“It couldn’t get any better than this “ Rob reckoned. Next drift another two solid hookups. We knew straight away that these were smaller fish but still great fun. We boated another two 9kg models and put the rods away. I checked the clock and it was 7:05am. Not a bad half hours work. We did the photo thing and then headed back to the ramp.
He left Whyalla that day with a whole new perspective on what fishing was about. He reckoned I contradicted everything he had read about Snapper fishing but was not going to argue about the results. He left Whyalla with his share of fish all iced up and was still smiling as he drove away.
It was great to be able to expose a mate to fishing like that, especially someone from the desert. I know he will remember that couple of days for the rest of his life and that made me happy. Even as a local I know you don’t get a much hotter bite than that, its just the size of the fish that varies. Welcome to Whyalla fella I thought as he drove away.