|Our annual family holiday trip at Christmas again took us down to Marion Bay. We had been there the previous year and came back for some more as we found the place relaxing, rewarding for fishing and laid back, just how we like it!
Marion Bay is at the bottom of Yorke Peninsula (near the toe) just before Innes National Park and is about a 3 hour drive from Adelaide.
This was to be a full family affair with my brother, sister and bro-in-law and even my Mum coming along, as well as my wife and daughter. Last year my sister had caught the biggest Snapper so as usual the banter about who was going to catch what started early and in earnest. Lets just say there was less bulldust on the Stretzlecki Track!
My sister had organised a house for us all to stay in and while we weren’t exactly sure where it was, the local Marion Bay store soon put us on track, as well as having the keys to let us in
When we arrived there was a howling southerly blowing that we’d been told had been blowing for a couple of days. The next day was similar and so while we had towed the boat down we had plenty of time to get it wet and decided to do the family thing and explore Innes National Park a little.
We did the usual haunts of Chinamans Hat, Ethel Wreck, Cape Spencer and Pondalowie Bay where we had a paddle with our 2 year old daughter. She somehow managed to be in the water every day regardless of how windy, hot or cold it was and had a ball. Both Marion Bay and Pondalowie are great beaches fro the youngsters to have a swim in being fairly shallow and protected.
Here is Marion Bay at the Penguin Point end.
This is the Cape Spencer Lighthouse Innes. You can see Althorpe Island in the left hand background.
That night we made all our snapper and whiting rigs over a couple of beers and discussed tactics for the following day, again the bulldust flowed!
Day 3 dawned similar to day 2 but the wind had abated somewhat, so it was decided to try for some whiting in the Bay. It was to be 4 in the boat with my sister, bro-in-law, brother and me.
After an eventful launch near the jetty where all the fellas managed to get wet as it was low tide and there isn’t a lot of water there at the best of times and I thought we’d sucked up half the sand on the ocean floor through the motor we thought we’d try somewhere close.
The pick was put down and we started getting bites straight away….first fish pulled in was you guessed it, a rockie! There were lots around so it was unanimous in trying somewhere different.
I’d rigged up the anchor yanka as everyone had being raving about them and the ol’ backs aren’t what they used to be. It worked a treat except somehow the anchor had come adrift from the chain….not a good start!
Luckily we carry a spare sand anchor so it was rigged up and we were still in with a shot.
We decided that a trip down to a ledge off of Hillocks was in order. It was a bit of a ride as the seas were about 1.5m but we found our spot.
The area here goes from about 14m down to 20m. Our tactics involved anchoring at the bottom of the ledge and berleying up with prawn and cray leftovers from the previous nights dinner.
The new anchor appeared to be holding ok with 60m of rope out so it was lines in and no sooner had we hit the bottom than up came the first whiting. I just love catching these fish.
We got about half a dozen nice sized fish around the 40cm mark when they went quiet. Keeping an eye on the sounder it looked like we had drifted off the mark into about 14m of water, no wonder we’d lost them as the anchor had pulled
Well back into roughly the same area and a little bit more rope out we found the whiting again. We could actually see the whiting on the sounder which was a first for us (maybe we’ve been fishing metro for too long!).
Again we were back into the whiting and while not biting their heads off they were a decent size with a couple topping 45cm. None were undersized by a long way so far.
Then things went quiet and we jiggled the berley pot to get them going again. Eventually though after about a more dozen fish things went quiet.
A short move was agreed and this time we hit the mother lode of whiting.
One side of the boat was firing and because my sister is pregnant we let her take the seat on the side they were biting and the lads would bait up drop in the lines and in a rotation basis hook up on fish.
This was whiting fishing at its best. Pretty soon we thought we were near our bag limit and did a count to find we had 34 fish, the next 2 came over quickly and we’d BAGGED OUT.
The first time we’d ever bagged out, admittedly under the new smaller bag limits, but we left them biting and thought of the filleting we’d have to do when back at beach house. What a problem to have!
Another fun filled day at Bag Out Bay.
Day 4 was decreed a rest day as we were knackered from all that filleting and it was relaxing to go to the beach, potter around Marion Bay and just have some fun. We had dinner at the Marion Bay Tavern that night, it being New Years Eve even though I didn’t manage to see it in for some reason! Jonesy a mate I’ve met through Fishsa was even working the bar there. He even pulled a decent beer.
We had agreed to launch at Pondie the next day to try some of the ledges out from there as we’d never fished there before.
Day 5 – The wind had completely died off and it was quickly agreed to amend our plans and head straight down to Althorpes Island. Below you can see Seal Island on the left, Haystack Island in the middle and Althorpe off to the right. We fished somewhere in the middle of these in about 30 metres of water.
There was hardly a breath of wind and the tide was slowing down so we drifted around the general area we’d gotten some nice Snapper the previous year. The first couple of drifts yielded two Snapper just over 45cm. Its great to have that thump thump on the rod and the taking of some line and seeing a nice pink Snapper rising out of the depths. However after this it went a bit quiet so we ventured a bit further a field to try some new ground.
My brother got a good strike on his half pilchard baits and it looked like he was into a good fish. It didn’t have the characteristic thump thump of a Snapper but it was taking some line and giving a good fight. As it came out of the deep we though we had a small kingfish only to see the biggest whiting we’d ever come across at 57cm and thicker than his forearm. That was the fish of the day so far!
Continuing our drift it wasn’t long before we got into some extra large blue throated wrasse (Nanks would have been proud!). We must have been over a school of them so we kept some for Jonesy for cray bait and voted for another move.
This time we were getting past Althorpes (you can see Wedge Island in the distance from here) and it was deep water around the 50m mark. Here we got a few Nannygai with a couple of double headers. These were big bucket mouth specimens and apparently some consider better eating than Snapper. After a few of these we agreed (it’s a very democratic crew and Skipper!) to try near our old spot again as the tide was beginning to run in again and we’d come here for Snapper.
This time as the tide had started to move we were drifting in a different direction to our earlier drifts and while watching the sounder (as I like to do when drifting to see what we are going over), the screen was covered in a black mass.
Instant hookups and the familiar pumping of rods by all and sundry indicated they were Snapper! My brother brought in a double header (as we were using paternoster rigs) and we were all into the fish.
After passing the school we’d get a few bites and the odd straggler so we motored over the school again.
Our baits were a bit of a mixture, with pilchards being the best, but we used squid heads, some of the smaller whiting heads from the previous day and some mackerel we’d managed to snare.
The whiting heads were used in an attempt to keep the smaller fish at bay and hopefully some of the larger Snapper would be able to get to them.
However it appeared that this school consisted on similar sized fished from 40cm up to 50cm. A couple of drifts later and we had our bag limit of 15 Snapper.
Another bag limit and another first here at Bag Out Bay!
A change was due to come in later in the afternoon, so we called it a day again. This turned out to be the right decision as it was flat as a tack on the way back and it’s about a 15km trip back from Althorpes to the Marion Bay ramp.
Just as we’d gotten back to the beach house and were cleaning the catch up came the change and with it a strong southerly again.
The next day was blown out with the change and that was our last chance for a fish, but we didn’t mind too much as on both trips out we’d bagged out and had enough fish to keep us fed for a while.
Also my brother in law had been given the PlayStation 2 Bass Master Fishing game complete with rod and reel controller for Christmas and this kept us entertained.
We think this may have given us the edge in catching the fish that we did!!
Naturally we’ll being heading back to Bag Out Bay again (as we’ve now renamed Marion Bay) for Christmas and New Years next year.