Looking back in the early days of camping in Augusta, at Paddy's end of the camp, we knew all the regulars and we never had a problem with anyone of them. We would only meet up at Christmas and Easter holiday's and most became life long friends. Nipper roamed free without a problem. I can see the big hindquarters of kangaroo's hanging in the Peppy trees, it was funny to watch Nipper when my father was going hunting, the moment he picked up his hunting knife and belt, or went to put on his sand-shoes, Nipper didn't know if he was going in the boat to the other side of the river hunting or out in the ute.The speed that Nipper used to do between the boat and the ute was a sight I won't forget. All the time my father saying "you silly mongrel" , with a smile on his face.
One of the locals our family befriended was Alan Roberts, we all called him Uncle Alan as kids. My four boys were bought up the same, also my Sister and Brothers children. He also hunted and fished with my father,(he was the local ranger.) A returned serviceman, I was told he won the Golden Gloves in boxing. We would sell the kangaroo's in a town called Margaret River about 50 kilometers from Augusta. A company called Diamond Ice had set up a chiller, we would sell the complete kangaroo, which had been gutted, headed and hocked.
I remember an incidence with Nipper, my father was walking through the park,(trees and shrubs) not like today, a little pad led down to the old toilets, a couple of hundred yards down from our camp. There was a family camped there from another country town, who we had also befriended and they had a big short hair kangaroo dog, he said to my father as he passed with Nipper," you better watch your dog, this fellows not to friendly with other dogs", my father nodded. Nipper was an obedient dog and would not stray from my fathers side if he said stay. I forget how many days later, but we decided to go fishing about 10kilometers up the coast. In one of the bays there was a big bed of seaweed, about 20-30 meters long, 3or4 meters wide and a meter deep. If you move the top of the weed, the maggots were there in their countless millions, they were a clean maggot, no smell at all, when the waves washed them into the water, there was thousands of fish(herring) feeding off the maggot.
The photo above shows a big bed of seaweed. The one below shows the seagulls sitting on the rocks, they cannot fit another maggot in, some of them still feeding on the water.
The fellow that had warned dad about his dog not being too friendly, was also fishing off this bed of weed. We did'nt realise but when we stepped up on to the weed, and asked the man if he was catching anything, his big dog no doubt heard our voices and came up from behind the weed, where he was sheltering from the wind. He made the mistake of pulling Nipper on, in very short time Nipper had him by the scruff of the neck, shakes him off the weed into the water, he released him and I can see him at top speed heading back along the beach to his masters car. We all started pulling herring in like nothing had happened.
The fishing went a bit quiet, my father said we'll try another bay, a couple of kilometers away. When we got there we had to walk 4or5 hundred yards over the sand dunes. When all of a sudden one of the big breeds of Husky came up from a hollow and straight at Nipper, I know this dog had bad intentions, again it was over quite quickly with Nipper shaking him on the ground. I can also see that dog disappearing over the sand dunes. I can't remember what took place with the fishing, but on our way home I asked my father if I could buy something at the shop.
As the shop owner was serving me, I heard a commotion, when I looked through the big windows I could see Nipper shaking a big brown dog on the ground. When he released him this dog was heading home as fast as he could, but this time Nipper is free wheeling behind him, grabs the back of him and tips him like he would a big boomer, as he sommersaults Nippers all over him.
But then Nipper just stands there and watches him disappear. I felt embarrassed, I thought the dog might belong to the shop owner, but he then say's to a fellow standing alongside me." That big brown has been belting some of my customers dog's, also he's been piddling on everything in front of the shop. Hope he kills the mongrel." My embarrassment left me, I remember giving Nipper a pat as I hopped into the car. I have seen Nipper run from a dog fight, if it was a pekinese or a fox terrier, he would not fight a small dog.
This photo shows you how to scale whiting and it's hard to believe the result. If you look back behind in the wake of the boat, you can see a green bag sitting up on the crest of the wake. It's called a scaling bag, you tow it at the speed you can see, for 3 or 400yrds. If you are doing the right speed, the bag will continuously roll and sit where it is. When you pull up and pull it in to check the fish, I will defy you to find a scale. You can maybe do 2 dozen at a time and if you have to repeat it you do.
The photo below shows you a close up of the scaling bag. This is how they come out of the scaling bag and saves a lot of timeThis is a photo taken in the mid 60's of myself in the middle and two mates Stevie Graham on the right and his brother Greg on the left. We were taught never to waste, we shared these with other people. Especially if they were too old to fish or younger families if they did'nt know how.
I remember one day standing at the scaling board , by myself cleaning fish and when I looked up, there was a little handicapped girl watching me. I asked her "do you eat fish", she smiled and nodded her head and said yes. I told her to go home and tell her mother to give her a plate, that the man was going to give you some fish.
When she returned I filled her plate with fish, cleaned and ready to eat. As she was walking away, I looked towards the camping ground and her mum was watching.
Another day I was standing at the same scaling board, cleaning fish. The tide was in and I was standing in about 2ft of water, again I looked up and there were two young boy's about 8 or 9, they had a fishing rod each and were seeing what they could catch. I said it's good practice for you to cast, but I don't think you will catch anything.
So I asked how many was in the family, they said they were on holiday's with Grandad, they were in a unit just behind where I was staying. So I gave them 9 fish, they were big herring, more than enough for their meal. Also I had'nt cleaned them. I told them to go up and show Grandad and tell him that they had just caught them off the wall, by the scaling board.
I had just finished cleaning, when I looked up here was Grandad with his fishing rod and the two boy's. He looked at me and the little fellas started laughing, then he also started to laugh and said you got me mate. For a few years we joked about that. Also whenever he would see me he would say, your never going to take me to your good spot's are you.
Another old gentleman I used to know and have a joke with, his name was Dick and he had to walk along side of my tent to go to the waters edge. He could'nt see inside the tent, but I could see out. I would say have you got any string on you Dick and he would say what do you think it's a bloody yoyo, laughing as he walked away.
This is a photo of my youngest son Craig, who is 35 this year and shows you the changes over the years. Because where Craig is standing was once Old Paddy's camp. Also in the foreground you can see where the campers moor their boats or dingy's. They could walk them out to the dark strip of water, which is the channel. On the other side of that, you can see the big sandbar, that formed an island in the middle of the river.
We could play cricket or football, when the tide was out. Some day's when everyone wanted to go fishing, man, women and kids, we would ferry them across to the sandbar. Some of the bigger kids would swim across, myself and brothers included in the old times, also my sister when she was big enough.
In later times with my family and friends we would have folder chairs and we would have a picnic there. Quite a few of the campers done the same.
We were all chasing the yellow fin whiting, which no doubt were in their millions. I said that to an old bushy fishing there one day on the sandbar. He replied I think there's more, there's thousands. I give it a bit of thought and left it at that. Because I knew that the old bushy's had little education, or was he having a go at me.What your looking at is the number one bait, money back guaranteed. The young man in the photo is my oldest son David, who is 45 this year. And has done this all his life, the same as I have again thanks to my father. The next photo is a close up of this photo, they are called legworms. And if you think you have a bait that will beat these, give me a call and we'll have a little wager.
Everyone that turned up there fishing were using different bait and I know a lot of these people would not get enough for a feed. What your looking at is the number one bait, money back guaranteed.
I remember an incident one day when we were fishing on the sandbar and there was a family fishing to the right of us. I think they were grandparents, a little fella about 7 or 8 and his mum and dad. They were'nt catching much, maybe one every 20 minutes. We were catching one after another, whenever we cast.
I knew what was going to happen here, the little fella was sneaking closer to me. Next minute I could have put my hand in his pocket, I asked him to show me his fishing line. I could'nt believe the size of the hook and the bait. I alway's carried spare leads, that were already made up. So I cut the young fella's line and put one on, also some legworm which you cut into the size of your little fingernail.
It's nearly impossible to cast in and retrieve your line slowly, without having a whiting on. I alway's used a double lead, two hooks, so sometimes you would have two whiting. I told him to throw his line because he could handle it himself. I said pull it in very slow and I don't believe there is a better sight than to see a little fella catch his first fish. I showed him how to hold it tight and take the hook out.
Then I told him to go and get a bucket off his parents. When he came back I said half fill it with water and put your fish in it. I had a milk crate upside down with a bait board on it and the legworm cut up into little bits. I told him to take a piece and bait his hooks whenever he needed it.
Every now and then he would yell with excitement and he would be running back snigging his line, with a double header or two fish.So after about an hour or two, he's filled his bucket. I said to him you have caught enough to feed the whole family. I've done the same with my grandchildren. The little fella's grandparents and parents could'nt thank me enough. I told them I was a bit low on worms or I would have given them some. Also I said it's a better feeling for the boy, to say he caught dinner and tea for all of you's and some for the freezer.The greatest feeling for me was when we got back to shore and started to clean the fish on the scaling boards, where all the other people clean their fish. I turned around, the little fella was standing there, he said thank you very much mister, for letting me catch all those fish and if I ever get some of that bait, I will give you some. This is a photo of my granddaughter Leah on the left and her friend Jane. They caught all these whiting in very short time and I can't tell you how many more are in the bucket, even though I know. Their only ten years old.
This photo shows you where the Blackwood River runs into the sea at Augusta. You can see all the dingy's that belong to the campers at Turner Caravan Park, were my family moved to in the early day's after we stopped camping in the cave at Bob's Hollow. Maybe it was because Dad thought it was a bit too much for Mum to camp in a cave, especially with a little girl of 4 yrs.
You can also see the mouth of the river and the waves rolling in from the sea. On the big incoming tide and outgoing tide the water in front of the caravan park and out to the mouth became dangerous. There would be big whirlpools on top of the water and impossible to swim against.
I remember one time in the 50's, I was maybe 10 or 11 and I was going for a walk up towards the mouth. I looked up and there was quite a few people gathered in a circle. When I got to them, there was a man lying on the sand. Looking back I think he was in shock, he had very nearly drowned. I'm not too sure how they got him out, maybe there was a dinghy there. Because you definitely cant swim there.
I remember sitting in the dinghy with my father fishing. Quite a few years later. We were maybe 100yrds to the left of this photo and 3 quarters of the way across. He said to me this water can turn bad when the mouth is where it is, and I knew that. He said if I wasn't fishing where we are today, a little fella would have drowned. I hadn't heard about it so I asked him what had happened.
He said that he heard a cry for help, and thought it came from onshore. He run his eye's along the shoreline, but there was nothing there. Lucky he kept looking and had zeroed in for the next cry for help, he realized where it was coming from. The tide was ripping in and when he looked into the distance he could just make out a little fellas head and now and then his hands would reach up.
The sound travels a long way over water and by the time Dad got to him, he said I believe he was within seconds of going. He was no longer swimming and reaching for the sky. He told the little fella to grab hold of the side of the boat. I don't think Dad could lift him in and took him back to shore. He said he couldn't thank him enough and that was the last Dad saw of him.
I often think what happened, did he tell his parents. I would like to think he did and maybe the parents came looking for Dad and could not find him, he was not a camper. He was living in the house where the photo was taken along side the caravan park. It would be nice to think the family still talk about it. I know it's against all odds, but if they ever read this on my Webpage, his name was Wilfred Gillard and lived in Collie. WA This top photo shows you how far the mouth of the river has shifted. Maybe a kilometre, in a period of 29years. Photo was taken 2009. You can just see the mouth in the distance.
The photo below shows looking out to the mouth of the river. The little strip of beach you can see on the right of the mouth, was roughly 1984, which was 2years after the big summer floods of January 1982.
When the next floods re-open the mouth, on the backside of the taller bush's or shrubs, in the photo taken in 2009. It will start off a small channel, and the winter flood waters will make a straight line to the sea.
When the flash flood has finished, the big tides will take over and the incoming tide will deposit most of the beach-sand between the channel, which is now the new mouth and what is now the old mouth in the distance, which is an awful lot of sand a kilometre long and 2 or 300yrds wide. It revitalises, replenishes or rejuvinate's the river or however you would word it. It's nature showing the white collar or the Authorities what has to take place.
I have seen this four times over the last 50 something years and in front of Turner Caravan Park, where the campers moor their boats or dingy's, becomes covered in pure beach sand, full of cockles, where the families would walk around bare feet, feeling for them. They were sort after bait for whiting, also they would boil the cockles and eat them.
Another thing there was a transparent little worm that used to lay on the bottom in the sand in their countless thousands and in the morning when the tide went out, you could see the little depressions in the sand, where the whiting had been sucking them out of their holes.
The Authorities have been playing around with this system and who knows what they will eventually do. I believe Nature should be left to do what she knows best.
This photo shows how close the Mouth is to Turner Caravan Park and when the incoming tides are at their strongest. Remember this mouth is one kilometre to the left of where it is now.
In 2010 the Authorities went against nature and tried with an excavator to imitate her at whatever cost I don't know. They tried to put the mouth back to where you see it in this photo, but she did not agree and closed it back up immediately.
This might be just rumours, but I heard that they wanted to put groynes in so the mouth would be there permanently. I don't know if they have documented evidence of what nature has done in the past, but if they do groynes and we have no evidence of the past, we will never no what she had planned for the future, we will have lost it forever. Genuinely concerned.
This photo shows my brother Reg who is 4 years older than me. In the background you can see on the left side, half a dozen dinghy's fishing. Also some people on the channel all chasing whiting.
You can see the mouth of the Blackwood in the distance and how wide it is. On the left hand side of the mouth you can see the sand dunes and the white beach, which the big incoming tides eat away at and deposit it where my brother is standing.
In the late 50's early 60's we could walk out to the channel where the dinghy's are moored and where the gentleman is standing in the water fishing. We could sit on our backsides without getting wet. It has changed many times over many years
This photo shows my oldest boy on the right Dave, his youngest brother Craig next to him, also the second youngest Brett and a friend of the family Derek Fisher, who's father Wayne owned the boat we used to fish out of. We would camp alongside each other at Christmas and Easter also his wife Evelyn and daughter Natalie.
We also loved our free diving. And over all those years we reckon we had checked every possible place for a Crayfish to hide. Derek is holding a deep sea Kingy, better known as the Samson fish, as in Samson and Delilah, because of his strength. Some people say he is the poor mans game fish. Brett has the same, Craig is holding a Queen Snapper in his right hand and in his left hand he holds the most sort after fish in our waters the Dewfish. Dave is holding a Dewfish as well.
Like I've said with the pig hunting, some day's will stay with you forever, fishing and diving is the same. I remember pulling up over a reef that had showed up on the echo sounder and Wayne suggested this is a likely spot. No matter how many times you have done this, it will be just as exciting the next time as it was the first time, even though you've done it hundreds of times.
The adrenalin starts to pump and it's a race to see who can get to the bottom first. I baited Brett's line first, threw it over and passed it to him, Dave's got his line over. Unfortunately the skipper has to get the boat into position first and then is last to get his line in.
As I started to get my line baited, Brett said Dad I've got something big on, sometimes you can pick up the reef and your snagged, but we knew it wasn't that, the line was fairly zinging through his hands. The other fellas pulled their lines back into the boat, while Brett went about beating whatever he had.
It takes awhile, he gets it to the surface and we gaff the big Samson he is holding. I said to Wayne while you are holding the fish up out of the way, I will bait Brett's line and get it back in, so all the line in the boat won't get tangled. Which I did and handed the line to Brett to let it sink. Wayne said to grab a hessian bag to put the fish in. As we were doing that Brett said I've got another big fish on. Dave's got to pull his line in while he play's this fish up, it's a Queen Snapper which Craig has got in his right hand.
So I put's another bait on Brett's line and sends it down again. Dave throws his line back over as Wayne and myself were putting the second fish into the bag, Brett said I've got another fish on Dad, again his older brother had to pull his line in. While Brett lands a Dewy. I know I was thinking about kicking his bum and Dave was thinking of pushing him over. I don't know about Wayne he was better natured than us.
Some day's it happens like that and you cherish those memories forever. I remember over maybe 40 years missing one Christmas, and when we went down to Augusta the following Easter. A real close friend of ours, who was the Shire Ranger asked us what happened last Christmas. I said that we'd gone north about 1000klms. He said that if you ever do that again, I will see that the Shire bans you from Augusta forever. A real good friend who has left us now, and also many other old people we befriended. Augusta will never be the same. This photo show's you another one of my passions, diving for the Jumbo Crayfish. This is Brett when he's 25 years of age and his son Ricky. There is many photo's and stories that I will tell you in time.
This photo was taken 35 years ago. From the left my oldest son Dave who today is 45, Jamie 42 , Brett 39. My addiction started roughly 53 or 54 years ago.
I remember this day like it was yesterday, my Father was sitting on one of his favourite rocks at Augusta, 100lb handline in the water and for bait he was using, what Dad called a flapper, which was a herring he had just pulled out of the water. He would scale it and then cut from the tail to the head, nick the backbone, turn it over and then do the same and the backbone would come away, leaving the two fillet's hanging from the head.
He'd put the hook through the head twice. Then he'd put his boot on the head and push down gently until the juices started to run out and he'd always say, this is old Paddy's trick. Because the strongest scent of a fish is in his head. Also the fillet's that are hanging, will move with the movement of the water. I do this myself everytime and I think of my Father and old Paddy as I do it. Dad had the patience to wait, which I think increases with age.
But I was 11 or 12 years old and liked to check things out, so I said to Dad that I was going to go back along the bay's, for no reason in particular other than to look somewhere I haven't looked. As I clammered over the rocks and around 2 or 3 bays, there was a little narrow strip of beach about 20-30yrds long.
There was a young lady sitting in the sun, I wondered what she was doing there, because she was quite a way from the nearest road. It was only a goat pad that give you access to this strip of beach. I remember running my eye's out along the rocks, thinking her husband or boyfriend would be fishing, but there was no one.
Then I caught the flash of his flippers out in the bay. He was a spear fisherman. So I went down to the lady and asked if they had caught anything, she said it was his first dive and he was due back in. I said can I sit here and watch. She said yes. When he came back , I'm not too sure, I think he had a couple of bandit sweep and a couple of skippy. I suppose for their tea. He'd shot them with a spear gun and being brought up the way I was, anything with gun in it impressed me.
He said to the lady I'm going to swim back out and around the far point of rocks and into the next bay. He said you walk across and meet me over there. I asked them if I could follow, and they said yes again. So I helped her carry some of the gear. When we get's there, she sits down on a big flat rock and while we were talking I was watching were he was diving.
He seemed to be in the one spot for a long time. When he swims into us he's speared as bigger jumbo cray as you will see. He hops out of the water and sorts the cray out into a bag, then he said to the lady. There's a cave out there, with ten or twelve as big as this one. So he swims back out and straight back in with another one of them. I know I tingled all over and started to visualise the cave. I thought one day I will be big enough to do this and I will never forget that spot.
Roughly three years later, my second oldest brother Bob and a friend, Daryl Fisher were diving in that area and I told them about the cave. They had quite a few dives but said they could not find it also they said maybe you've made a mistake with the location. I didn't like them saying that because I was as sure as I am that shit sticks to a blanket.
When I was 16 I had a set of diving gear and a spear gun. I really forget who I returned with, I think it was Daryl Fisher the brother of Wayne Fisher the one Brett caught the fish with in his boat. We became good mates and we dived for many years. We dived the West Coast from Bunbury to Augusta and over that time we checked pretty much every bay, looking for the most productive over 200klms of coast free diving and Augusta wins hands down.
I remembered the markers I had on that cave and when I dived down. There was big granite rocks went down to a sandy bottom, there was a line of seaweed or kelp about 3ft off the sand and the long leaves touched the sand. I went back up for air and I thought the same as Daryl and my brother did. But I dived again, this time I put my hand under the weed that was hanging and I could see about a 3ft entry into the cave. You can't see anything you have to put your head under the weed and into the cave.
And when my eyes climatised I was looking at what the man had told the lady. There was 3 or 4 on the floor of the cave, maybe 2 in the left hand corner and 2 in the right hand corner also 2 or 3 hanging from the roof. They were all as big as each other. I don't think that fella could have ever returned. Because I dived it for the next 45 years. You would think I would have bumped into him over that time. Also I would have to whisper what Daryl and myself got on the day and over the years. Oops all this time I've left my dad out on the rock fishing. And again on his memories this is the truth.
This photo shows you the size of the jumbo's that were in that cave. Our second oldest boy Jamie is on the left, my sister's daughter Lee, my son Brett also my sister's boy Neil
This is another photo of myself taken maybe in the mid 70's and the fish that I am holding was my fathers main target the Dew fish. Also laying on the rock is two whiskery sharks and a carpet shark. Plus maybe ten dozen herring. We would split the catch between us an old friend of mine Bobby Harrison and we would give different people a feed, like I've said my father taught us to never waste.
I remember sitting on the rocks this morning, with a big hand-line in the water, I had a flapper on for bait. Bobby was along side of me pulling herring in one after another. We were in deep water. I said to Bobby "that some of the rubbish fish down there are banging this flapper". I pulled it in and only the head was left. So Bobby give me the next herring he pulled in. I turned it into a flapper and when I squashed the head, I was thinking of old Paddy and remembering this was his secret to catch a big fish.
I cast the line back in, sat down and got myself comfortable on the rock, pulled out my tobacco and was rolling a smoke. The big line took off, so did my tobacco about 20ft down into the water. I felt the weight of a big fish and then there was nothing, he had dropped it. I looked up to Bobby who was still pulling in herring. I said "whatever that was Bob it had a lot of weight."
Then I said "he's back again I can feel him pick it up". Then he puts in another big run , this time I've hooked him good. When he slows up I could feel a couple of shakes of the head. Then takes off again. This time I wouldn't let him take the line, so he does a big arc to the left. Then turns and does another arc to the right. I said "Bobby my money is on a Dew fish, because that is how they fight". And then you see the big silver flashes down deep.
There are hundreds of people that go out on the ocean, with 50-100thousand dollar boats. Some have never caught the big Dewy. But the ones that have know what a thrill it is. The adrenalin fairly pumps. You can magnify this by twenty, when your battling the waves and swell when it hits the base of the rock and your trying to get a 15ft gaff into him. And all the time your praying you don't lose him. If this does not give you enough of a buzz, try it at night time with a torch.
A little bit later when we were standing back on the rocks I had a wave of sadness come over me. I knelt on the rocks , put my head in my hands, Bobby said "what's the matter", I said "I'm thinking of my(tobacco) and were heading into town".
No doubt my father had mastered the art of catching the Dewy. Very few if any caught more than he did from the rocks. He was telling me one time, he was sitting on the rocks fishing for the Dewy. My mother would go with him and she would sit on the rock behind him in the light of the tilly lamp.
This particular night the hand-line starts to move through my fathers hands and he's waiting for it to make it's run, which it does and he hooks it. It runs a little further than a couple of head shakes and then he said he couldn't believe it there was nothing there. He pulled the line in and the big hook was gone. He said to mum " I believe I had a Dewy". Dad liked to fish an hour before dark and an hour after.
The next day Dad said to Mum "I believe that was a Dewy last night and were going back up tonight". Would you believe he pulls in a 36lb Dewy, with the big hook in it's mouth from the night before.
Also this photo was in the mid 70's and Harrow was with me again, there's another 2 sharks you can't see in the photo. The jetty that I'm standing on belonged to a good friend of the family and a local of Augusta, his name was Alan Roberts and I've said before he was the local Shire Ranger. He owned the first and second house on the right. You can see the cleaning boards on the jetty which made things easy.
You don't get too many fishing sessions like this. It was late afternoon and we were going up to fish one of my father's favourite spots. He had named it Dewy Rock. And a lot of his descendants still refer to it as that today.
It was absolutely flat calm and crystal clear. I said to Bobby "that we'll go up to the weed bed and catch some herring". The weed was full of maggots, I threw some in the water at our feet and it bubbled with herring. But they were lazy and overfull, they would not take a bait. So we put 2 or 3 maggots on a hook and when we flicked in a handful, we dangled our hook amongst it and we'd get a herring everytime. We got maybe 15-20 and went back to Dewy Rock.
My father had wedged a big lump of pine in a crack between the rocks, so you could tie a big hand-line off to it and also if you happened to catch a big stingray, you could throw a loop on the pine and snap your line.
Now this is how quick this happened. I put a flapper on the big hand-line, squashed the head a little and cast out to my left of the rock. Placed the big hand- reel in the split of the rock, done the same with the second hand-line and placed it a little further along the split.
Then I heard a noise, when I looked the first spool was spinning in the split. I grabbed it and as the pressure came on I could see the line come to the surface and it was heading out to sea. Then it dropped it, there was no weight there at all. I said to Bobby "that was a good fish, it was on the top heading out". When all of a sudden the second spool started to spin. I placed the first spool in the split and grabbed the second one.
To make sure the hook sinks home, you turn the hand-spool sidewards, there's no give. The hook will penetrate, you turn the spool face on, holding the line in your right hand and apply as much pressure as you can take without cutting your fingers. It can be dangerous if you don't know what your doing and some times dangerous even if you do know what your doing.
I turned the spool sidewards and hung on. I was lucky it was the biggest shark you can see in the photo. He goes in a big arc to the left and heads towards shore, all this time I've got the maximum pressure using the hand-line sidewards. He realises and turns to come back out to the open sea. I've still got it sidewards no give at all and hoping he can't overpower me. By doing this it causes him to arc to the right and he does the same as he done to the left, again he realises and turns to come back.
I said to Bobby "I think I've got him beat". The pressure was easing slightly and he gives a couple of head shakes. As I bring him in along side the rock, Bobby puts the gaff into him and we both pull him up the rock. I said to Bobby "you hold him and I will bait up and cast it back in to get the slack line off the rocks and out of the way", which I did.
Then I went to give Bobby a hand but the first spool started to spin again. I grab's it, turns the spool sidewards and it's on again. It's another shark, not as big as the first one but still a good fish. When I get's him to the rock, Bobby was ready with the gaff, he put's it into him and the both of us pull him up the rock. I said to Bobby "I'll do the same, put a bait on and cast it to get the slack out of the way", which I did. When I placed the spool in the split, the other spool was spinning. I picked it up and I hooked another shark the same size as the second one. An hour later we caught a Carpet shark. Good fishing.
I remember one time a couple of mates were in this situation and whatever was on the other end was too good for them. The pressure fractured the plastic hand-reel and as it spun, the jagged edge cut his hand and off to hospital for stitches.
This photo shows the culprit of a lot of snapped lines. His name is George or Blacky. The wife took this photo at the scaling board and the wall in the Augusta Camping ground. Sometimes the tide would be in a bit higher than you can see. I'd be cleaning fish unaware and they would bump into my shins.
I would say to some of the tourists watching, (they will bite your toes off) some of the women and kids would say "oh my god". But I believe they were letting me know they were there. Sometimes when the water would surge and go back, they would be laying on the sand. But in was only for seconds and the water would return.
I have knelt down with my elbow under the water and a fish head in my hand, they would cover my hand with their body and the power of the suction from their flaps was unbelievable. While they were doing this I could pat or almost do anything with them. There's many variety's of stingray, from small to large with tails, some might be 5ft long and dangerous. George and Blacky were the variety of the short tail and not so dangerous.
I believe some people have made the mistake, thinking the head of the stingray was the safest because it was the furtherest away from the tail. But they can throw their tail forward and I amagine crack it like a stock whip. The big serrated barb on the end will penetrate most anything.
This photo shows you the serrated barbs from the stingrays tail. Needless to say their deadly weapons. They belong to a gentleman that my father said was his best fishing mate. They fished through the late 30's-40's and 50's. His name was Billy Swan and he helped my father many times tidy up old Paddy's camp and also stock his woodpile for the year.
Billy told me he first met my father, when he rode his pushbike into Collie, looking for work. I presume in the coal mines. They became life long friends into their 90's. I'll always remember as I walked away, Bill said "he was my best mate Jim".
My mind went back to the mid 50's, when I used to go out with Billy and Dad and we would catch the little bait fish in the creeks. They were called minnows and we used them to catch the Redfin Perch which are in the photo below. Like I've said their as tasty as any fish in the ocean. This photo was taken in 2010 and I'm also catching them in 2011.
This photo shows you the number one bait for Redfin Perch the minnow. They are still in big numbers in certain areas, but nothing like they were in the early times.
There were many different methods to catch them. The old bushman would use a stick about 5 or 6ft long, they'd tie a piece of cotton to the end, the same length as the stick. They would bend a sewing pin to imitate a fish hook, then tie it to the end of the cotton. They would put little bits of worm on for bait. When the minnow took the bait they would lift him up, they'd take their hat off and put it under him and the minnow would fall off, because there was no barb on the hook. Then he'd put it in a bucket of water.
If the old bushman had no pins or hooks, he would get a full worm and tie the cotton around the middle, leaving an inch or two either side and when he dangled it in the water, the minnows would try to swallow the worms from the ends and they would hang on long enough for the bushman to lift him up and again put his hat under them.
Another way they would cut a hessian bag, so it resembled a mat. I watched my father and Billy Swan get a corner in each hand. They would hop into the shallow creek about 2-3ft deep and drag it under the water to a shallow end and when they lifted it up. There would be hundreds of minnows. They varied in size so they would sort out the 3-4inch, which were the best size for live bait.
It depended on the size of the water containers how many they could keep. A kerosine tin which was roughly 15-20ltrs, would hold between 2-3dozen. Any more than that they would take the oxygen out of the water and die. The bigger container the more you can keep and release the rest.
All my life I have had this habit. Whenever I came onto a pool of water in a creek. I would throw little lumps of dirt as big as your fingernail, to see what it would attract. That's what your looking at in the photo above.
In the early days when our forests were run by bushman or bush people. They would dig out square water holes, on the edge of the creeks. Some for the bush settlements and I presume water for summer fires. If the water hole was away from the road, they would use a tree that was on the edge of the road and mark it with a tin sign, that was painted black, with a white W and an arrow through it pointing to where the water hole was. Like you can see in the photo below. And time has tried to cover it up.
This photo shows Peter and the method we use to carry Perch as we were hunting them along the river. If you look close at the photo you will see the size of the stick. And about 8inches up from the bottom there's a fork, which we break off at about 4-5inchs. Then you poke the end of the stick under the gill plate out through the mouth and it will slide down to the fork. This photo shows me with a Trout, which I caught on the same day as you see Peter in the above photo. They put up a better fight than the Perch. But as far as eating they should not come up in the same sentence as Perch. A lot of Trout fisherman would not like what I have just said.
You read in Fishing Magazines and see photo's of Trout that were captured on (a you beaut zero 124- leaning backwards lure). My first Trout was caught with a (303 dumb-dumb), which is an army rifle, with a Policeman holding the torch.
They were a very common rifle and I think most of the returned soldiers had one. Especially from the bush. I remember an old fella saying, if you went into the forest around Collie and looked up a hollow log, there's a good chance you would see a 303.
There's many stories told of these men in war and they were feared they rarely missed. Because they zeroed in on the eye of a rabbit or the head of a Bronze-wing Pigeon. Also the duck shooter and kangaroo shooter. Their nearly extinct. Another thing if the old timers were at work and it was raining. They would suggest it was too heavy to work in and that we should go home and go out kangaroo shooting.
This photo shows the copper which is boiling and the laminex table in the backround, also my oldest son Dave who is about 18 at the time and his younger brother Brett about 12. Their about to put some jumbo cray's into the copper. I remember times cooking marron or fresh-water lobster with my father, when I was a boy. This is also where we done the wild ducks and I am unable to put a figure on how many fish I have filleted as well.
This photo shows a laminex table full, it was shared between two or three families. Also we had travelled maybe 1000klms north from where we live. If you added up the overall costs, it would maybe be cheaper to buy it from the market. It was more so the life style we were chasing. My family was young, also the skies were blue and it was 10-15 degrees hotter. We done this in the winter months. Also the places I chose were as safe as you could possibly get for the kids. As you can see in the photo below the waters were flat calm and the rocks were also flat and small. The fishing was good.
It is experiences like the photo above, the family will never forget. Brett is about 12yrs old and he is holding up his first Mulloway and you can see by the scales in his hands, it weighs just short of 30lb. It was the first day we got there and we'd set up our camps on the beach. My sister Phyllis, her husband Neil and there 4 children. Julie, Neil, Lee and Kylie. Also our 4 boy's Dave, Jamie, Brett and Craig.
In the afternoon we walked up the beach a couple of hundred yards, to the flat rocks with 4 or 5 rods. Everyone was taking it in turns pulling in fish. It was getting a bit late, so we decided to go back and put tea on. Young Neil was always keen to put out a set-line. I suppose he and his father had put together, a long half inch rope, with about 8-10ft of chain and a big shark hook on the end. As we were walking away the boy's put a whole fish on and Neil walked it out to about chest deep and dropped it. Then tied the other end around a big rock.
We had our tea and the boy's were straight back up there. It was just after dark and Phyllis and Neil said we'll go and check the boy's. I didn't go, my back wasn't the best. When they returned, the brother-inlaw said come out and see the size of this. I said don't bullshit to me. When I looks out young Neil has got a small Carpet shark, then he turns and puts the torch on Brett. You can see by the grin on his face he's pretty happy with it. He must have had a bit of a wrestle with it in the water, because you can see he's wet to the Niagara Falls.
The next morning their up early and heading up to check the set-line. We could hear a hell of a commotion, kids yelling,("Neil's got a big shark"), so we walks up to see whats going on and as the photo below shows they had reason to get excited. A good start to a good holiday.
The people in the photo are tourists from Switzerland. They were travelling the Southwest of Western Australia in hired vehicles. The brother-inlaw Peter and myself were chasing Red-fin Perch and we came onto them camped along side of the river. Which is only 6 or 7 yrds at the back of the vehicles.
Peter went to the left and I went to the right. Two of them were sitting in the back of the vehicle, and as I walked passed I nodded my head and said hello. It was maybe 5mins and I had 3 medium Perch. I put them on a stick and as I walked passed, the gentleman said "did you just catch them in that time". I said "it happens like that sometimes and other days you wont catch one". He asked if they were good eating, and I said they were as good as any fish you could name.
Peter came back with one, which made it 4. So I said to the people I'll clean these and you can have them for tea. We exchanged email addresses and they emailed us saying they were beautiful.
Another time I was parked under the bridge you can see in the photo below. Which traffic can no longer use. It was an old formation and the trains used to travel it, with the big Jarrah logs for the old settlements and the sawmills. Now the tourists or backpackers travel across it.
This day when we were standing under the bridge and my vehicle was out of sight. I heard backpackers walking over the bridge. And with a deep deep voice I imitated Billy Goat Gruff and I said "who's walking over my bridge". I know we hadn't been drinking, so I can't blame that. Then we heard the backpackers erupt into laughter.
When Peter and myself came out from under the bridge and looked up we were laughing and they were laughing. They came down to us, took their backpacks off and we were standing there talking for maybe a half an hour. One of them said to the other we have done the wrong thing and we'll have to camp here tonight my muscles are starting to chuck it in. I said there's quite a bit of weight in your backpack mate. He said you pick it up. I couldn't believe it, I'm sure he said there's 60kls or maybe it was 60lb. The section they had just walked was maybe 30-40klms.
They asked what we were doing and I said chasing Red-fin Perch. I showed him a couple we had and they were pretty impressed. He said I've got fishing line and hooks in my backpack. I said we'll walk to the pool which was close and with a bit of luck we'll have a couple for your tea. They stood there and watched us pull in 4. You cannot scale Red-fin Perch. So I showed him how to skin and clean them.
I was first introduced to this bridge in 1966. I was working for local contractors, at that time R and N Palmers. My wife and myself were good friends of Norm and Sadie Palmer, also their son David.
I was operating a bulldozer, snigging mill logs and power poles out of the bush and loading them onto the trucks. I remember sitting on the passenger side of the truck or low-loader with the bulldozer on the back. The truck drivers name was Ozzy Campbell and he had a reputation for spooking people. You can add me to that list. When I first saw the bridge I thought this is touch and go. I'm sure it had no side rails, it was a flat top railway bridge.
Ozzy didn't stop he came down a couple of gears and as we were going over the bridge. I looked out my window and I couldn't see the sides. I realised the method an Abalone uses to stick to a rock.
In this photo you can see myself, Neil, Neil jnr and Brett. We didn't realize when we first got there on our holiday's. I think it was the boy's doing what boy's do, wading in the water and checking things out and they yelled "there's big blue manna crabs here". As you can see it's only halfway up your shin.
When I walked out to them to have a look, I could see three or four big crabs, in the area I was standing. Then I said don't move your feet, there was a deadly Stonefish camouflaged in the sand. As we were tiptoeing out of the water we saw two or three more. So we went back to the camp and put boots on, as you can see I had a set of waders.
It became the rule that everyone will wear shoes in the water from then on. Although there didn't seem to be any in the bay where we were camped as it was deeper water. I think we picked up 40 something crabs with our hands. As we were walking back to our camp, there was another family camped there and we gave them enough crabs for a meal. We repeated it the next day.
The photo below shows you the Stonefish up close and you can see the ridge on top, it has maybe 10-12 poisonous barbs. They say the pain is unbearable. You can see by the roughness of the head, it is designed to look like a bit of reef or stone. The rest of the body is under the sand. This photo below shows the brother-inlaw on the right and myself lifting up the net and if you look real close you can see a sea-snake tangled in the net. We had this set up 3 or 400yrds up from the camp and we would leave the blow-up dinghy up on the beach.
This particular night after tea, we were all sitting around the table having a few beers and the kids are sitting on the beds. It's getting on a bit into the night. I think we were talking about the stone-fish , sea-snake and the shark. I said jokingly and trying to spook the kids, it's a pretty spooky place is this, the wife, the sister and the brother-inlaw agreed. I think the sister said I heard something trying to get into the food last night. So we have an 8yr old, 9yr old, 2- 12yr olds and a 13yr old.
An old friend of mine who has passed away showed me this place where we were camped, his name was Arthur Bassett, his wife Jan and son Phillip and daughter Ina, they have lived in Sharkbay all their life. Arthur's parents settled there in the 18 hundreds. Arthur was an ex-professional fisherman and Phillip was a current professional fisherman. Ina worked in the fish factory and was the number one filleter. So what they didn't know about fishing, and this part of the coast was not worth knowing.
He told me the name of the area we had put our tent up was called The Cattle-wells. No doubt he told me but I can't remember how it got this name. Remember we are trying to spook the kids. One said I'm not scared and the others said nor are we. Then one of the adults said, why do they call this place The Cattle-wells. Were on a sheep station, but our kids called it a farm. So I said one day the farmer came up to check his cows and they were all dead. I said they had bite marks and their throats were ripped out. So he got a machine and dug a big hole and buried all the cows. That's why they call it the Cattle-wells.
Their still insisting their not scared but their getting quieter. We said righto if your not scared, go up the beach to where the blow-up dinghy is and then come back. One of the adults said just listen for a minute. You could hear a pin drop. We said you'll go up two at a time and you'll bring back the oar. No doubt the little one's were thinking they'll go a little way and then come back, but now they have to bring the oar back, you could see by the look on their face, we were winning.
All of a sudden Phyllis dragged her feet on the top of the tarp, we had for a floor mat, with sand all over it. It made quite a loud noise. There were little screams and big screams and a couple started crying. Not a good bedtime story.
The day the above photo was taken, we were at our camp and a young man pulled up in a four wheel drive. I walked over and started to talk to him. He told me he was waiting for his boss, who was a professional fisherman. I asked him what he was chasing and he said whiting. Also he said his boss would be coming around the corner in a boat soon. As we were talking about different things that happened in this part of the world, he said here's my boss now. So I walked back to the camp knowing they would be busy.
When I told my sister they were catching whiting, I knew she would be interested because of all the years we chased them at Augusta. We started to count the big containers they were loading onto the vehicle. I said go and have a look, they won't mind. No doubt Phyllis had seen a bucket full many times, but this is the first time she has seen a four wheel drive ute full.
I used to think that Augusta was the number one spot for whiting. But then I travelled North for maybe 12 or 1500klms with the wife and four boy's. I was invited out on a fishing trip and we were going to stay out over night. We were camped at Shark Bay for two weeks with a friend and his family, also Peter the brother-inlaw and his family.
The day before we went to camp overnight, we decided to go to the pub, the three men. If I remember right this wasn't the first time. I remember we were sitting at the bar, Peter was keen on his Pool and he had put his money on the table, to challenge the winner of the two that were already playing. Peter eventually play's the winner and has got control of the table. There's a few other challenger's with their money on the table. Peter is settling in and it is hard to get the table back.
We've knocked a few beers down and the friend I'm sitting with is real keen on his darts. The bar was a long L shape to our right and at the other end was a dart board and a couple of aboriginals playing and a few of their mates sitting at the bar. So I said to my friend we'll set these fellas up, all be it in a friendly way. So we walks around and introduces ourselves and asked them if they were interested in a game. They said yes we are. They suggested we have a few throws and we did. This is a move on their behalf, to check us out.
I'd already told my friend not to hit too much. If they had suggested to play just for the sake of playing, we would have agreed or for a beer. One of the aborigines said "I think we should play for a dollar unna" (which means yes in aboriginal talk). I agreed, we won the first couple of games, just. Then I said to the mate we"ll go all out and we really started to hit em. They were a couple of real nice fella's and they started laughing and saying look at those spears going in now.
We stopped playing and we sat there having a few drinks with them. One said "you fella's sharked us aye". I said "you similar unna". Again they started laughing. A couple of hours later we were still with them at the bar. They were good company. One of them looks up at the pub door and a big young fella walks in. One of aboriginals said to me "dis boy here, deadly with the darts, and he's a money player". They called him over and started talking to him. He had just came off a professional fishing boat. He'd been to sea for maybe two weeks and no doubt ready for a good time.
The aboriginal boy's set him up and they said these two fella's play darts. He said what games do you play. I said whatever, he's having a few throws. Then he say's what about 51 for $5's. I said whatever. I looked and the two aboriginal fellas have got a smile on their face. 51 is one shot with three darts, at $5's a throw it can get out of control real quick. Whether he thought we were jagging our shot's or lucky, he tried to stay with us and failed.
We went out the next morning and camped that night, also fished the next day and the costs were covered from the dart board.We tangled once more with one of their better players and done him too. We become friends with a lot of the local fella's and they never challenged us again. We liked to shark a shark. But social darts is one of the best way's to get in with the local people of that town and because some of them tried to shark you and it turns out you shark them, it's joked about and they laugh it off.
This photo shows you some of the fish we were getting out of the net. Their yellow-fin whiting and they are equal to any fish as far as eating. My family have chased these all our lives and there's nothing that I'm more sure of, that if there's a here-after, my father , old Paddy and Billy Swan are sitting in a dinghy with more than their quota.This shows Neil on the left and myself on the right also the size of the Yellow-fin whiting. At our camp at the Cattle-Wells.
I believe the amount of times a fishing experience comes along like this. My father could count on his left hand and as I have said before, my father only had two fingers on his left, the small finger and ring finger. To think after he retired, he built his own house from scratch, room by room until it was finished. Time didn't worry him, but quality did and everything was centre metre perfect. Even qualified carpenters, which my father was not, commented on the quality. Where some people would be in a hurry or take a short-cut, my father had a saying all his life. If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well.
Many hours he sat in his shed with a blank rod, or before they came out, with a bamboo stick. When he was finished they would equal, any fishing rod that came out of a factory. All his mates fished with rods that he had made them. The only charge was the material. He had a wonderful nature and outlook. If he could save somebody money by doing something for them, he would. I remember a fella telling me one time, he was building a shed and I had turned up there with my father. He asked the gentleman how many support beams and girders there was for the shed.
When I returned maybe a month later when the shed was finished. He started to talk about it. He said "you remember the day you brought your father around". I said "yes". He told me my father returned the following day, with all the brackets, cut to length, with the holes drilled in them. They were made out of quarter inch channel-iron. Free of charge. Dad would scrounge bits of steel, channel (angle, flat)-iron, and he would say they'll come in handy some day. The same with any timber.
Back to the fishing, as you can see on the laminex table in the photo above is a sight not too many fisherman see. Not only that, this particular day will equal or better any day's fishing, from the shore or land based. There were five men fishing, myself, my oldest son David and second oldest Jamie, brother-inlaw Peter and a good friend Maurice Hayes.
We had all gone up the river in the morning chasing the Yellow-fin whiting and we pulled in ten dozen. This sounds a lot, but remember there was five of us. Mauries family is June, his wife and three grown up boy's. His share is two dozen and won't quite feed his family, especially if we add June's father big Merve and in the early times her mother Thelma. (who are deceased).
Anyhow we had cleaned and split the catch. After the midday meal, I said to Maurie, we'll go and check a couple of spots, where we can fish in the evening with the big rods. It's better if I don't tell you how we travel to these spots because there are some mongrels out there, not unlike myself that would read this and realize where I was fishing. I remember Henry Martin calling me a cunning mongrel. But I also remember one of the best old bushman, saying to me."Son it's no good getting old if you don't get cunning".
As we were checking the different spots, we couldn't believe the amount of different fish in the one area. We both realized this is where we will fish tonight. So the five of us set off about five o'clock and we had worked it out with the women, that they would buy fish and chips and bring it to where we were. It turns out there was a beautiful hole that could handle all five of us. Remember this is on my fathers memories and it is the truth. I might joke a little at times but that's me.
Where fishing for Tailor with gang-hooks and muelies for bait. As we cast in for the first time, it was pretty much instant. Tailor around the 2 lb mark every throw. After about an hour, there was a quite a few spectators. There was two young boy's there maybe 11 or 12. Maurie called them over and asked if they would like to catch a couple of fish, one grabbed him around the neck and the other took his rod.(joke). Their into them every throw.
Then a very well too do lady came over to me and said "it must be good to be able to catch fish like that". I said "their catching themselves love". Then I said "would you like to catch a couple". She said "oh I wouldn't be able to catch one", I said "don't think that for a minute". So I cast the rod, as I was passing it to her, I said "you have to wind the handle real quick". She has got one instantly.
After the next 10 or 12 casts, she's got as many fish. Everytime she got one the people that were gathering there would clap and cheer and some whistled. The two boy's were having as much fun as she was. Then she whispers in my ear" I love you". ( no she didn't) She said "I'm getting embarrassed using your rod all this time". I said "I'm more than happy with what I've caught" and I said "one more fish after dark will do me". I didn't explain what I meant.
She said "we must go now", her husband was there and her daughter and they were all dressed, like they owned the top floor of a high-rise in the city. I said do you's eat fish, she said yes with a big smile. I turned to him and said can you clean them. He didn't say yes or no, all he said was "don't even look at me". We all laughed, so I turned a 20ltr bucket upside down and I scaled and cleaned also washed them, put them in a plastic shopping bag and I think the boy's took a feed as well.
Now the night is starting to set in, we'd been there maybe a bit over 2 hours and when I pulls my rod in, I have still got my bait. I said to Maurie, who was standing along side me. That's the first time I haven't got a bite. he said "I also pulled my bait in on the last throw". Then I said " I hope something has caused this". The next time I wound my rod in, I put a big slab of fresh tailor on, and I was willing to sit there for awhile and wait. My back was telling me that I'd been fishing for too long.
But I wasn't going to get a rest, for something started playing with the bait. I actually thought it was a stingray hitting my line with it's flap. So between the hit's when there was nothing there, I gave the rod a hard jerk hoping to scare it away. But I had hooked it and it took off for the horizon. I had the maximum pressure on the line and I was fast running out of line on the reel. The swells were coming in, in sets of three and it had made it out to the back swell and I was battling to get it in.
Also my back was hurting, so I called out to Jamie, when he came over I said you take over this, it's locked up at the back of the swell. So after about ten minutes, he starts to move it. Maybe another ten minutes, he's got it in range of the shore. I've got the gaff and the torch looking into the water. We could see the big silver body and red eye's of the most sort after fish that is caught off a beach with a rod and reel. It's called a Mulloway. As we gaffed it and was snigging it up the beach. Jamie was jumping up and down in the sand saying "I caught it". ( I caught it)(I caught it.)
I don't know where I stand, so I left my rod out of the water and walked over to Peter. He's got a brand new rod and reel. I had the torch shining it on the mulloway in the sand. I said "he's a nice fish Pete". Then I said "they hunt in packs and wouldn't it be nice if there's half a dozen cruising around in this hole". I had all but just got it out of my mouth, Peter gives a yell and his rod is buckled over big time. After about 10-15 mins, I said "Pete I think you've got a stingray". Then I walked away and went over to Maurie. I also suggested to him Mulloway hunt in packs, but I think Peter's got a stingray.
I goes back over to him and I shine the torch on his reel. I said "your fast running out of line and if you don't work him hard he's going to beat you". So he's leaning back and the tip of the rod is all but looking him in the eye's. Then he say's "he's starting to turn", so he starts to pump the rod and every-time he winds forward, he's getting a little bit of line back. Again I said "Pete I think it's a stingray", he said "it's not and I can feel the head shakes". When it starts to get in range, Ive got the torch.
Then we could see another big Mulloway up on top of the wave. Again you could see his big mouth and red eye's. I said "that's it we'll head home", Peter's fish weighed 42lb and I don't know who to say owned the other fish but it weighed 25lb and I hooked the bloody thing. Maurie, Peter and myself headed home. Dave and Jamie being young and silly stayed on, but nothing else was caught. Great times and to think we bought Fish and Chips.
The photo shows another section of the Blackwood River at Augusta.
Because it is known for bad weather and few sunny days, you appreciate a day like you see in the photo blue skies and fish. Brother-inlaw Pete on the right, then our grandson Daniel, friend of the family Maurice, Daniel's cousin Rachel.
You can't get better conditions, for elderly people and children. But Augusta can change and turn on you like a wild dog. The following day would be a wipe-off. There would be white caps, wind and rain coming in sidewards. I remember saying one day jokingly to some people who were staying at the house with us. That a man had just told me that the wind had blown his dog off the chain.
There was also a little girl about 4 and like they say you have to be careful what you say in front of little one's. She was talking to her mother on the phone that afternoon. No doubt her mother asked her what was happening , the little girl said." Mummy the wind blowed the man's dog off the chain".
There's a saying in Australia, (we all come undone at the seams).
This is a photo of our grandson Ricky, who is now 18. What a coincidence he was born in Augusta in the Christmas holiday's, which made it all the more exciting. Different friends were thinking up different names. Maurice's wife June suggested Augustus and you can amagine the response that got, especially from the mother and also Ricky when I tease him with it today.In this photo you can see Augustus ( sorry Ricky) on the right, his sister Leah. Rick caught four of these five Salmon. which is not a bad effort considering he is about 7yrs old. It's one of those fishing trips that will stay with you forever.
The wife had made a picnic lunch and we were going to drive along the beach and choose a good hole or gutter to fish in. As I was driving I could see a deep hole coming up to the edge of the beach. It also had a deep gutter running out the back to the open sea.
So I pulled up and decided this is where we will fish. The rods were already set up to fish with. As I was putting bait on I was looking into the hole. I said to the wife "there's a school of salmon laying there on the bottom", as you can see in the photo these fish weighed between 5-15lb. They are considered lb for lb one of the best fighters.
Remember Ricky is only 7 and has caught many small fish, whiting , herring and skippy. But this is going to be his first battle with a fish that can fight back. Their also known as the poor man's game fish. They put on a show, they will tail walk on top of the water. Also they will lock up sidewards in the waves and a man will not pull it through until the wave drops. Also they will take your line instantly if you lob it in the right spot.
Just before I threw it in I explained to Ricky that if the fish takes it you just pull back as hard as you can. I told him that the drag was set and the reel will make a noise and when it stopped he was to pull back and wind forward as many times as he can. When I cast the rod for him, I said "you have to do it by yourself because I'm going to throw Nan's line in". I said "his line will buckle over any second".
As I went to cast it Ricky yelled out "Grandad" and I said "what". He said "I've got a fish" I said "you do what I told ya". Then the wife gives a bit of a yell and she's on too. Ricky yells out again and I said "he will start to weaken soon and you will beat him". So I left him and made out I was more interested in the wife's fish. As she was fighting it, we had gone further away from Ricky.
By this time his fish has started to weaken and he had it beat. I knew what he'd be thinking. Nan had to have help from Grandad and I've done it all by myself. When I looks over the next time he's got it on the beach the wave had pushed it up. So I run over quick and grabbed it. He said "my arms are sore". I said "would you like to catch another one" he said "yes". So I let him have a little rest while we sorted the wife's fish out. Then I cast his rod again.
You have to bleed the salmon straight away and gut them. As I started to do this, Rick yells out "Grandad". The rods buckled over and it's on again. This time he's a bit more confident and he's staggering around in the sand, leaning back like he was going ski-ing. By the time I'd cleaned the first two and washed them in the ocean, put them in the esky on ice.
I walks back down to Rick and he's got this one beat. I put his rod in the holder. As I was taking the hook out of the salmon. I said "do you want to catch another one". Again he say's "yes". As he was fighting the third one, I said to the wife " I don't think he can do this, his arms must be getting sore". but he battled through it and landed the third one. We were sitting there having something to eat and a cuppa.
Rick's had a pretty good spell and I said the daily quota is four per person, per day (perhaps). I said "do you want one more go so you can say you caught your quota", he give it a bit of a thought and said "yes". So I cast the rod once more and passed it to Rick, again it's on instantly. After about 5mins, he said "I can't do it Grandad", so I told him to sit on his bum and I poked the rod between his legs into the sand. Then he starts to pull back to see if he can beat it. He looked up and said " Grandad I can't it's hurting my rude part". I said "fair enough" and pulled it in myself. We give 4 of the 5 away to different people at the camping ground.
The photo below show you Ricky when he's 16 with another salmon and he's lost count of how many he's caught.This is Rick and his dad Brett our third eldest son. You can't get better conditions for catching fish this size.
The photo below shows Rick holding a herring, which is one of our main targets for eating. They travel in massive schools and they are maybe number one target for salmon. In time I will show you photo's of these two fish taken by the tons.
What more would you want, without committing a crime, blue skies, white sand, clear water and both rods buckled. The young fella in the foreground is Ricky when he was maybe 12 or 13 and his Uncle Pete in the background. Many times over the years I have seen where you can double up like this. There might be maybe 1-100 fish in the school that you have hooked up with. While you were playing these two fish out, the rest of the school have kept travelling a little bit faster than walking pace. By the time you have bled, gutted and washed the two in the seawater, maybe put them in the esky. The school would be out of sight.
The grandchildren like to travel in the back of the ute. While we were travelling along the beach they would be trying to see who can pick up the school first. They would certainly let you know when they had seen them. We would drive passed them a hundred yrds. The rods were already set up with bait on, then someone would say "here they come" and they looked like torpedos. They would throw the rods so they'd land about 5-10yrds in front of the fish. If you miss cast and lob behind you would not get one.
Like I've said before these fish are hunting parties that have come away from the massive schools out the back. I've seen these big schools come within casting distance and at times I have used live bait and lobbed it in amongst 5-10 ton of salmon and it is on instantly.
This type of fishing is seasonal and the run will start roughly, late March to June, some years it varies it may be a little bit earlier or later. This has been taking place since the start of time. They are part of a food chain, for dolphins, sharks and no doubt other species that pick up bits and pieces. You hear stories of the past where the water turned red with blood from the massive schools of herring, that come into the bay to feed off the maggots that have been washed out of the beds of weed on the shoreline. Then you had the salmon feeding off the herring in their countless thousands. Also the porpoises or dolphins and sharks feeding off the salmon.
Another day I remember pulling up on this beach, Peter and myself and we were looking out at two dark shapes at the back of the surf and we realized they were two fair lumps of shark. We reckoned they were maybe between 8-10ft long. They seemed to be lazing around in the sun and now and then they would come into the curl of the wave, which allowed us to see them quite clearly. We decided to fish where we were.
As we were setting up our gear we lost interest in the two sharks. We were set up and as we walked to the waters edge to cast our rods. I was looking to my left and I said to Peter "there's those two sharks". I also said " one's on the tail of the other". Then Peter said" hang on here's those two sharks too the right". So we realized the one on the left was one big shark. I've seen some sharks but nothing to match this.
It was just before the start of the salmon run and no doubt these sharks had come in from wherever and were laying in wait for the salmon. When you think these fish migrate in excess of maybe 1000 klms and they would be preyed on the whole journey and we can see three sharks out in front of where we are fishing. I find it hard when I see reports, when the Authorities say we know how many's out there and we have to do this and that. I put this to an old bushman one day, his answer was they count their eyes and divide it by one. The photo below you can see Ricky and Peter with their double up. This photo shows you salmon that survived attacks from sharks and dolphins. There are many locations along our coast, where these wounded fish will hold up in behind a shallow reef right on shore, in three or four feet of water. There too scared to go back out into the deep and continue their migration. I've seen them stay for six weeks. They are known among the fisherman as hospital fish.
The photo below shows you some of the hospital fish that are too scared to go back out and you can see the wounds on some of the fish. One in particular, half his side is missing.
The above photo shows you the ideal conditions for salmon fishing. You can drive along the beach for maybe 10klms. Looking out of your window you can spot schools of varying sizes, hunting the shallows. They may range in numbers from 1-100 and upwards. Many times when you look out behind the line of white water you will see a dark patch that looks like a small reef, but it is salmon. Again the amount varies, but this time it is from 1 ton- 20 ton and upwards. The fish that are hunting the shallows that we are looking for are feeding parties that have come away from the big schools out the back.
This particular day as I drove onto the beach. The gentleman in the photo who I did not know, was walking a trail they call Cape to Cape with a backpack on. I remember I waved as I drove passed him. I drove another 4 or 500yrds and I can see about 50 salmon laying in the gutter close to the beach. They were resting up. I hopped out and set my rod up.
By now the gentleman with the backpack has caught up with me and we were talking. I asked him if he liked fishing and the way he answered I could tell he was real keen. Then he said "I've got a business" and he didn't seem to be able to find the time. So I said to him " would you like to catch a salmon". He nodded his head and said "I certainly would". I said "well take your backpack off", he said " do you think I'll catch one now". I said "I know you'll catch one mate". Then I pointed to all the salmon laying in the gutter. I said "can you cast the rod alright" and he said "yes".
When I looked up there was another vehicle coming towards us. I told him to lean on the side of my vehicle. As it went passed there were 3 or 4 young fellas, they did not smile or acknowledge us. I said to the gentleman "let them get 3 or 400yrds" then he cast his line it was on instantly. It takes him awhile to play it out then he lands it. I grabbed the line and dragged it up to the vehicle. I put another bait on, I said "do you want to catch another one". He said "I certainly do". So he cast the rod again. I started to bleed, gill and gut the salmon.
When I looked the rod was buckled over and he was into another one. I done the same to this one as I done too the first one and put it into the back of the vehicle. I said to the gentleman " come over here and make like were looking into the ute". The young fellas were driving back towards us. Again they did not smile or wave. I nodded my head, they just looked and kept driving. Had they shown any sign of friendly, I would have stopped them and shown them what was going on. I can't remember if it was 3 or 4 the gentleman landed, but as he was leaving he shook my hand and said" you've made my day". Then I landed a couple myself.
This photo and six more to follow, will explain to you's uneducated fisherman. Who have not got a dictionary the meaning of the word Phenomenon. This photo shows you the brother-inlaw Peter with no doubt hundreds of little flies, that are being attracted to the light on the side of the canopy. This is the start of the night and we are setting up our rods to fish here. The photo was taken at 7-26, the following photo is taken at 7-30.You can see a black mat on the white beach sand, which is all flies. If you look underneath the light on the canopy, you can see the black band of flies and their falling to the ground. If there was hundreds in the first photo, there's maybe thousands in the second. The next photo which was taken at 7-56 shows you an increase in numbers and I'll let you put a figure on these. They are three inches deep in the middle of the mat.Now all you's women that complain when your husband goes fishing maybe a bit too often, you don't realize what he sometimes puts himself through, to feed you and his off-spring. This next photo was taken at 8-09.This photo shows you at 8-11 Peter has bolted. I can hear him laughing, myself as well. I don't know why, we had not been drinking. The next two photo's were taken at the same time 8-12.It had got too much and we had to go home. Just before we did, I walked up the beach to the right and looking into the light of the night sky. There was a continuous band of these flies, so thick that I could hear them. They were coming away from a big bed of weed in the distance. These little flies are the start of the biggest food chain, that feed our migrating schools of smallish fish. The likes of the herring, which travel in schools by the ton, also the yellow-tail mackerel and blue sardines or mulies. Which all travel in their tons.
To think there are hundreds of bays and hundreds of swarms of these flies and I believe I'm under-estimating here. All these flies lay many maggots. I remember saying this to an old bushman. I said "you couldn't put an estimate on the numbers could you". He smiled and said " check it out with the Authorities or the white-collar".
I remember when we got home that night and as I opened the canopy of the ute, there was a thousand or two flew out. We were staying along side of the Caravan Park were quite a few of our friends stayed. I also remember in the morning. Two of our friends Maurice and June who were staying in the Caravan Park used to come over for breakfast every morning. While we were sitting there and eating and planning what we will be doing for that day.
When all of a sudden Maurie said " you won't believe what took place last night", they had gone out for tea with a few of our friends, Frank and Heather, Les and Anne, Bob, Lorna and Jude. Maurie said " we could not get into Frank and Heathers caravan." He said "they'd left their out-side light on and you have never seen flies like it in your life". I said "I have Maurie" and I told him the story.
This photo shows you the big beds of weed or kelp that wash up in the many bays or beaches along our coast. This particular bed will increase by maybe double. There is a lot more weed in the water waiting to be added to the bed. The small tides will push it to the base and when the big tides return the waves will throw it over the back.
The photo below shows you the weed is so condensed, it will hold the water back. The little flies have laid their maggots in this weed and as the days go by, it breaks down and starts to rot and no doubt the maggots feed off it. While this is taking place if you move the top five or six inches, the maggots are there in their zillions. If you put your hand down inside, you would not believe the temperature, it is quite warm.
When the tide first returns and the conditions are right it starts to take the front of the weed away and it takes the maggot out to sea. Now and then a slightly bigger wave, will push some of the maggots over the back to the water that's trapped there and I've seen it where you can scoop up a two gallon bucket of pure maggot. And it's those conditions that the seagulls and ducks you can see in the photo are waiting for. When it takes place, they come from far and wide.This photo shows you a wall of water going into the base of the rocks and the next photo shows you in less than a minute, how it washes the maggots from the weed and back out to sea.If you look into the middle of the water in this photo you can see the white bands of maggots, being drawn out to sea. The next photo shows you a close up and you can see someone has lost their thong, also a couple of fishing blobsThis photo was taken from the top of the cliff, from where the previous photo showed the maggots in the water. It's a different time and you can see the bed of kelp is much bigger. When the seas are at their worst, the power of the swells will rip the kelp from the bottom of the sea-bed, where it grows on the reefs and rocks. If you look at the end rock in the photo, on the right the maggots will drift around the back and into clear water and the big schools of small fish that I have told you about will feed off them.
I remember one day standing on rocks in a place similar to this and there was a gentleman along side of me fishing. I said to him "do you realize that white band going out to sea is pure maggots". He said "no I didn't". I used to bump into this fella quite often and we'd had many conversations. He was a retired timber worker and his job was falling the big tree's for the mills. Also his father worked the forests before him, in the days of the horse and wim-wheels. I told him I was going to do my Fathers life story and the history of the forests as I know it and also what I've been told. I asked him if he had any photo's of his fathers day's in the bush. He said "yes I have". I asked if he would mind if I took a photo of his photo's. He said" your more than welcome".
So I will show you these photo's in time. His name is John Wren. The next time I bumped into him on the rocks fishing, he came over to me and he said "you won't believe what I saw the other day". He told me he was out in the bay in his boat fishing, maybe 3 or 4 klms off shore. When he saw a flock of sea-gulls going silly on top of the water, like they were feeding. He said I went over to check it out, and it was a white band of maggots, like you pointed out to me on the rocks that day.
Like I've said before my Father's brain was always active and no matter what it was he was doing. He would always work out the most efficient way to do things, fishing included. My father worked the best part of his life in the underground Coal Mines and the miners would always rotate the different jobs that is required to prepare or work these tunnels.
One day it might be using the big drills to bore the holes, to prepare the face. The next day, it might be putting up the props in their right position to support the roof and protect themselves. The next day it would be extending the big steel trays, which had steel chains running through them to take the coal away from the face and out to a belt-line and up to the surface. They became experts after a life-time of doing this.
I remember a dear friend of mine who I worked with, he is in his 90's now, Ron Bebbington alias Bigbird to the miners. Nearing the end of his time after 40 or more years in the mines. He was called into the office by a young mine manager and was told he had to sit for an exam, which would give him a ticket so he could prepare and charge a face, with explosives, which he'd done all his life. They say he laughed and said "you'd get them out of a Wheeties packet". Many old miners were told the same.
One day as my father was preparing the charges, he had to push a skewer into the end of a stick of dynamite or fracture, which allowed him to push a detonator down the hole. Each detonator had a little half inch by half inch square tag with a number on it. As you can see on the top of the tag, there's a little tube where the wire from the detonator runs through.
As he was looking at the tag, no doubt he was thinking of fishing and he thought if he cut the little flat part off the tag, leaving the tube and if he pushed the eye of a hook up the tube and lodged it behind the barb, it would resemble a maggot. Dad was telling me of a time he was fishing off the rocks, with his mate Billy Swan, who also worked in the mines with him. They were using the little yellow tube.
This was maybe in the 40's or early 50's. He said the both of us were pulling herring in one after another. He said when he looked up in the car park, which was maybe 100yrds. There was an old fisherman that dad knew and he was watching them for quite awhile. Dad said I knew what he'd be thinking. A bit later it got the better of the old fella. He walked out too the rocks where they were fishing. He said " I'll bite (Wilf) what are you using for bait". Dad showed him the hook with the little yellow tube. The old fella said " your never too old to learn". Dad used to keep the little tags, thread them along a little bit of wire maybe a ft long, tie the ends together so it was a loop and hang it on a nail in the shed. Everlasting bait!! He would give those loops with the tubes on, to many fisherman over the years.
In this photo you can see the wife scaling some of the morning's catch. Then I would either fillet them, also I would take the head off some and gut them, leaving them whole to eat off the bone. The wife would pack the fillet's into feed sizes for my Mother and Father. Age had caught up with my parents, Dad no longer fished. Also we would give feeds to other families.
The next photo shows you a close-up of the herring's feed bag and you would think it was unable to fit another maggot in. Yet it took a bait on the hook, they go into a feeding frenzy. A lot of people would screw up their faces at the sight of this, but as I've said they are a clean maggot. They feed off sea-weed, no smell at all.
This photo shows our oldest grandson Scott when he was maybe 7 or 8, battling with his first Salmon. I'm standing along side of him and in the background you can see his father David and Uncle Jamie. The day before this photo was taken, Scotty had hooked a Salmon in the same spot. After ten or fifteen minutes of playing the fish, he lost him at the base of the rock. The first words he said was"I can still tell my friends I caught a Salmon". I said "you sure can". All the time I was thinking I'll have him here tomorrow and he will catch his first Salmon and the photo below shows you it's a good effort for a little fella.This is another photo of Scotty and his first Salmon also his little sister, you know I can't remember her name. I'm so sorry about that it is (Cherie) and I think she'll have trouble squaring up for that, because no matter what I threw at that girl growing up, come back at me three fold. The reason for me saying this is because she abused me for not having her in the story so far. So the next few photo's will show Cherie growing up.
The next photo shows her on the rocks, when Scotty got his Salmon. In the background you can see her father Dave on the right, Scotty in the middle and a friend of the family Bob Ellis who in this photo is in his late 50's and it is also his first couple of Salmon. Bob was a good footballer in his young day's and when we finished fishing, he said "I have not had this sort of excitement or adrenalin rush, since my football day's". You can see by the look on Cherie's face we had been there quite awhile and she's ready to go home.This is Cherie with her brother Scott as their growing up and you can see they've lit up a blackboy. You only do this in the middle of winter and there's no chance of the fire getting out of control. This has no doubt been done by many country people and bushman since the start of time.She chatted me about not having photo's of her growing up, but she didn't say anything about which photo's I could use.This photo shows Cherie, myself and Scotty in the year 2000.This is a photo of Cherie and Scott on her 18th birthday 2009. They have always been there for each other and as you can see they enjoy each others company. There's not a better feeling for a Nana and Grandad to see that. She's as pretty as a picture on a wall.
Another thing with this story was the Aborigines do not need a licence to catch Perch. Are they telling me, if they catch me fishing for Perch with an Aboriginal friend they will fine me 100 dollars and my friend will walk free of charge. What a way to turn friends enemies. That would not happen as we know who the enemy is in this particular case.
I wonder if the fisheries officers reported the people who contaminated the water in the South Branch or who ever was responsible for draining the water from the river. When you think they fined Mr Italiano 100 dollars and he did not have one Perch on him. Yet there was hundreds of thousands of marron, cobbler, minnows, water beetles, water rats and fresh-water cockles.
Also the wild ducks, cormorants (shags) which used to breed there, have gone and many other species that I have failed to mention.
I think of that fella with a bit of Authority, when he saw me with my camera around my neck and said does everything meet with my approval. This is my answer to him. I believe if this River was destroyed accidently by somebody with Authority, he should be locked up and the key chucked away. But if it was ever to be proven this was done intentionally. The penalty should be more severe, Ned Kelly comes to mind. ( But to be fair I think Ned was provoked again by the Authority's).
This photo shows you the contents from inside a perch's stomach. All my life I have checked on the feed bags to see what they have eaten. I remember my four boy's when they were just old enough to sit on the sink, they couldn't wait for me to cut the feed-bag open and they would name the different little fish and crustaceans. I believe if you added up the Perch that's been taken out of the Collie River systems, by all the locals who chase them, it would be in the thousands every year. I remember one perch when I opened up his feed-bag there was twelve baby marron.
The perch were introduced to our rivers and they live off our native fish. To think they fined that man 100 dollars for trying to teach his two little grandchildren age 7 and 11 how to fish. I think they used the excuse that people catching trout out of season, would say they were chasing perch. What is wrong with this, is the locals know that there are no trout in the Collie River systems that feed the Wellington Weir catchment.
The next two photo's show you that perching is enjoyed by the young and the old. The first photo is my son Brett aged maybe 4yrs. The second photo is an old friend aged 80 George Stewart. This photo shows you a nice catch and it scares you to think how many marron, gilgies and shrimp also the different species of little fish fall victim to the perch daily. Maybe the rules should be changed and they should've paid that man 100dollars and supplied the little ones with rods and reels. To me that would make more sense. Because many of the species I have mentioned are under threat.
This photo shows you some nice perch.In this photo you can see the fins on the back of the perch are standing upright and tells you they are still alive. In the early 80's I could pull up along side of a small pool and I believe I would catch the school with a little rod and spinner. I've seen times when I've thrown the spinner in and before I could wind it a big perch has swallowed it. You first think your snagged, then you feel the head shakes when they try to shake the spinner out. It's a good feeling, but it's a better sight when you pull that fish to the bank and you can't count the perch behind him.
The gentleman in the photo above was known to have a beer or two (3,4,5,6) on a hot day and I considered him as good as company as you could get. He loved a day on the river getting a few marron or perch even though he came from the city. He was best of mates with a friend of mine Barry Rainer, and it was the blind leading the blind. Bob Silich was a Det. Senior Sergent of the CIB and is no longer with us.
I don't think he'd mind me telling this story, because it was in the day when you would catch maybe more than you should have. Because we would like to give some to our families and different friends. Being from the City I would suggest maybe his friends would never have experienced cooking live marron and then sitting around a table and eating them while their still hot. Fresh bread and butter and a can of beer.
So this particular day Bob's got a bag full. I said," what happens if you get pulled up on the way home". He didn't say much, just walked over and opened the door of the vehicle he was in, pulled out a little dome shaped thing and sat it on the hood, then turned it on. Blue light flashing, siren, I nearly broke my neck, checking to see if there were any neighbours in their back yard.
When you think Bob was a Senior Detective in the CIB, he would have came up against some dangerous situations, especially at night, so maybe he was entitled to unwind on the river and it aint that bad when you consider those marron were going to be taken by myself and the wife. But we chose to give Bob our share.
A funny thing happened a week later, the wife and myself were making some Ding sausages out of wild pork, which I had a market for, another way to keep my fuel tank full to hunt pigs and to save the tucker bill. I said to the wife I have to go down to the pub to get a flagon of plonk or as they call it a cask to put in the ding sausage mix. As I was reversing out I saw the wife go to the letter-box, when I returned and preceded with the sausages, the wife said, you had better check that letter and this is what she passed me. And when I turned it over this was on the back of the envelope.As I pulled this letter out below, twenty dollars fell on the floor. The wife ran around in a bit of a panic trying to find my last license and we were not aware that I had been driving for two years without one. It scares me now to think if I had had an accident. I remember she couldn't find it at first and suggested I should go up to the police station. I said he likes to play games and he might be setting me up, but he wasn't.
Another interest Bob Silich had was setting a couple of cray pots, like the one in the photo above. If your having trouble trying to work out, the brown and white object inside the cray pot. It is our Jack Russell,(Jack) who my father used to call Russell Jack. I forget what it was, but he'd done something wrong, it might have been when the shire ranger got him and it cost me $100's. So I put him in jail for a little while.
I was told of an incident with Bob Silich when he was Stationed in a City that was on the Coast and he had two cray pots, that he used to check each day. Unfortunately they were in the same area as many Professional pots. I don't know if it was the wind or the spray of the salt water that got in his eye's, because now and then he would pull one of their pots. I would have liked to have seen his face this day, when he pulls one of his own pots, inside the little bait bag was a tin of baked beans and a can opener. I can see him looking over his shoulder. But the worst was yet to come.
He was leaning on the bar of the Sportsman Club when a real big man ordered a beer along side of him and he whispers "Did you get a feed when you pulled your craypot the other day Silich". He was a Professional.
I know a lot of people will think I'm a mongrel for doing that to Russell Jack, but we were good friends and he forgave me.
This photo shows a couple of nice Mulloway and sometimes when I put this image up on the computer I think of my Father and the many times when I was a boy sitting on the bank of the Collie River. Two or three kilometres back from where it ran into the sea. Some nights my Father would say "you listen and you will hear the croak of the Mulloway". I cant remember if Dad had the same opinion of some old fellas. They reckon if you can hear the Mulloway, they would not bite. Over the years I have heard them many times after I have landed them, I will have flash-backs of my Father every time.
You must have patience to wait these big fellas out. I remember reading a story on two old fellas that hunted the Mulloway all their lives and the different methods they had to increase their chances. They say the strike rate is one out of every ten times you go chasing them. When you think they studied and fished them all their lives, you can understand why some fisherman have never caught one, it's because they don't know the different methods to increase your chances.
I remember one old fisherman saying to me, the mongrels don't know any better and they'll put the bait on the hook with the same hand that they use to wipe their arse. I can hear him laughing to himself. Another saying by the die-hard fisherman is this is my last cast, most of time he's kidding himself. I remember one night I had missed out, I was by myself and I'd been there 4 or 5 hours.
I started to pack my gear into the trolley. You leave the big hand-lines in while your doing this. I wound two of the lines in, then I cut up all the fish that I had for bait into little pieces and threw it on top of my third line that was in the water. Then I was standing there winding the line back onto the spool as slow as I could,not wanting to admit defeat.
As it gets to the base of the Jetty, I felt the weight of the sinker and the bait. I pulls it up 3 or 4 ft from off the bottom, then lets it run back again so there's no weight on the line, again I pulls it up 3 or 4 ft and lets it sit there. All of a sudden it feels like I'm snagged, there's big weight, then it starts to move. I turn the spool side-wards again and give a big jerk. He came straight to the surface, it's a sight you never get used to you will panic ten out of ten.
You think he's going to go around the piles of the Jetty, so you can't give him any line at all, you think it might snap or the hook might pull out. When he shows signs of being beat it's best to hold him so his head is just sticking out of the water, because when you do this, when he thrashes his big body, it's under the water and he will wear himself out a lot quicker.You must have the full weight all the time. Because if you haven't and the swell rises and lifts him, I've seen the big hook come out because it hasn't penetrated the hard jaw of the Mulloway. One time I watched as the hook came out and he laid on top for a little while and then swam away. You'll have trouble sleeping that night.
This photo shows two of our grandsons, Ricky on the left is Bretts son and Daniel is Jamie's son. Rick has caught himself a nice Benito on the hand-line and Daniel has got a nice squid.
The next photo was taken 3 hours later and it shows you must be prepared for the change in the weather. Brett's on the left and Jamie's on the right. The old saying "a wet arse and no fish" is half right here. The kids have a ball trying to land fish like these on a hand line, the big kids included. Our main target is the squid, which we use for Mulloway and the boys also like to eat a couple.The photo above shows some nice squid also you can see the running gaff with the rope wrapped around it. It's designed to clip over your line when you've got a Mulloway on and when you lower it down over the head and as you pull the rope the three big hooks will go into the Mulloway's head and allows you to pull him up to the Jetty. The above photo shows a couple of nice Mulloway, myself on the left and the gentleman on the right, who's name I have forgot. He was one of many tourists who liked to walk the Busselton Jetty, two kilometres long. I would imagine over it's lifespan, they would number in excess of a million. The tourist dollars would be in the millions.
This particular day is another one of those experiences you wont forget. I was by myself and as I walked onto the start of the Jetty there were two gentlemen chasing the Blue-manna crabs, who were from my home town.( Doody and Bob) and they have also caught many Mulloway over the years. But this particular time they were only chasing the Crabs. I spoke to them for 5-10 minutes, then I continued on.
There's a few different sections that I like to fish, but they seem to run the length of the Jetty if it's on. I chose my spot, first thing I done was throw in two or three handfuls of burly. Which was minced up carcasses of whiting and herring that I had filleted. I would store this burly in my freezer roughly in 5 kilo bags.
Then I put a full side of fresh Mullet on the hook and threw it out, also another big hand-line. As I went to wipe my hands on a piece of rag, the first big hand-line spool started to move, I thought it couldn't possibly be, but I still picked it up and as I moved the line I could feel some weight and then there was nothing. I put the spool back down and thought I was kidding myself.
As I went to do something else I looked back at the line hanging over the rail and it was flicking and moving around a fair bit, so I went back to it and picked up the line in my wrong hand and as I pulled it, the weight was there again, but this time it starts to move out through my fingers with quite a bit of weight. I quickly changed hands, picked up the hand-spool, turned it side-wards and as the weight came on, I gave it a hard jerk. There's no give in the line, it causes the hook to penetrate into the hard mouth of the Mulloway.
Then all hell lets loose. You can hang onto the spool which is still side-wards and will not give an inch. It takes all your strength to beat him. When I gets him to the side of the Jetty and I'm looking down at him, maybe 10 or 12 ft. I have now got to get the running gaff. If you like fishing from the shore, this is the ultimate adrenalin rush.
When I get's the running gaff down and over his head and starts to pull him up, your praying you don't lose him, as many Mulloway are lost off the gaff or at the side of the Jetty. As I'm standing on the middle rail and I bring him over the top rail and onto the deck, I heard the screams of two ladies, who were coming along the Jetty and I had not seen them, they were at my back. As I was crouched down holding the big Mulloway in case he might flick and go over the side.
One of the ladies was standing at my back say's "Is there anything I can do". I put my right hand over my left shoulder and I said " there is something you can do love", she said "what", I said " can you pat me on the back because I cannot reach". When I looked up the Jetty in front of me, the gentleman who's in the photo with me, his wife had a movie camera on me.
Then would you believe the other big hand-line starts to move.I said to the gentleman, "can you hold this fish there's another one playing with the other line". He said "yes" and as he crouched down, the big Mulloway flicked and the fellow jumped back. So I stayed holding it myself. Then he said " why don't you put the rope through his mouth and tie it to the railing". Which I did, thinking it was a good idea.
Then I picked up the other big spool and I could feel the weight and then there was nothing. I wriggled it a little bit and the weight came back on. The line starts to go through my hand, so again I turn the spool side-wards and pulls back as hard as I could and it's on again. When I gets this one to the side of the Jetty I asked the gentleman if he could pass me the running gaff. Which he did and I clipped it on the line and run it down.
It's a rough sea, the swell is lifting the Mulloway up and down. Then panic sets in, the gaff has gone halfway down and can't go any further. Then I realize the reason for that, because I had put the other end of the rope through the other Mulloways mouth and tied it to the rail. But it all ended well and I had two Mulloway laying on the Jetty. Then I asked the lady, who had the movie camera if she could send me a photo, which she did.
Another thing took place, which reminded me of when an old bushie told me It's no good getting old if you don't get cunning. As the lady and her husband were leaving, I said to her "when you get back to the start of the Jetty, there's two men and their catching crabs, can you show them the photo's on the view screen". She said "yes I will". I told her they were friends of mine.
Then I said "do you know why I want you to show the photo's", she said "why". I said "one of them or maybe both of them if my luck is really in will come out here and have a look and then they will carry one or maybe the two fish back for me", sure enough Doody turns up.
The first words are you arsy mongrel. I said "it looks like their running, do you want my gear because I'm heading home". But like I've said they've caught Mulloway before. So he said "no thanks where chasing crabs". I said "you may as well carry one of these while your going in ( Dood)." Then that saying again You Cunning Mongrel. I can see him walking off down the Jetty dragging the Mulloway and the relief I felt thinking I've only got to drag one.
As I was packing my gear up and just about to start dragging that Mulloway, I heard a familar noise to the Busselton Jetty an old fella was pushing his fishing trolley. He'd been catching a feed of herring, when he see's the Mulloway, he say's" he's a good fish isn't he". I agreed and I said "is there any chance of putting him on your trolley". The old fella say's "no trouble at all". A real good shift.
As I've said before some of the experiences I have had over my time with fishing and hunting I think some people might doubt. But like I've said these stories are on my Fathers memory and they are true. This day I'm with the brother-inlaw Peter and my second oldest son Jamie and we were walking along the Busselton Jetty which is two kilometres long. We were about 200yrds from the start and we are going to walk out to the end, when one of us said "look here there's a seal in the water". He was traveling pretty fast and heading into the shore. We watched him for a little while and then continued.
We chose the spot where we were going to fish about 3 quarters of the way out. I forget how long, maybe a couple of hours later again one of us said "here comes that seal". This time he was on the opposite side about 50yrds wide of the Jetty, when all of a sudden he dived and headed away from us. I said to Peter it looks like he was chasing something. Then we could see a line of bubbles coming towards the Jetty. When it got closer, we realized it was the seal. Also the line of bubbles was coming straight to us and the photo above shows it came to the surface pretty much under our feet. I said to Jamie and Peter "it looks like he's showing us the fish", which was a John Dory and they are rated among the best of eating.
Then he does something that absolutely impressed us, he releases the fish from his mouth, does a roll over and looks at us, then he realizes that the fish has swam down to the bottom, he dives and is out of sight for awhile, comes back up to the same spot with it in his mouth and repeats what he had done, releasing it and doing a roll-over, all the time looking at us. Again he realizes the fish has swam away, so he dives and repeats what I have told you 4 or 5 times.
Then on the last time he does it, he shakes the fish violently like a dog does with a rag and it tears the gills and part of the belly section out and releases it, then goes into his roll-overs again. When he stops, he looks up at us as if to say if you's cant get this now, you don't deserve it and swam off. We all realized that he was trying to give it to us. I said what a shame we didn't have a camera on that.
Then I looked to my left and there was a lady there, a tourist with a camera in her hand. I walked over to her and said " did you get a photo of that". She said "yes I did", with a big smile on her face. She also said "he was trying to give it to you wasn't he". Also we lowered a little line down with a couple of hooks on it and jagged the John Dory and pulled him up. I said to the lady "is there any chance if I give you my address, that you can send me a photo" and she was more than happy to do that. I apologize for I have forgot her name.
To see something like that as close as we were, maybe ten feet. I often think I would have liked to have been in the water with him. The next photo show's you myself on the left and Jamie with the John Dory.
The conditions that we fish for the Mulloway off the Jetty, you would not believe. Gale force winds and rain coming in side-wards. The seas are filthy dirty and as rough as you can get and it's only die-hard Mulloway fisherman that will sit this out. Freezing cold and many times no result. I developed a habit, especially when I was out the bush cutting fire-wood, the weather would start to turn nasty, the North-westerlies would start to pick up bringing in a storm and I would say to whoever was with me, I've got the call of the wild and I would return home pack the Mulloway gear and head for the Jetty.
I can tell you the best line to have a Mulloway on is the type in the next photo.
Although I have seen pleasant nights, no wind or rain produce but the averages definitely go with a storm. I remember one night it was getting on a bit and things weren't looking good, but it still pays to have a sense of humour. I was with a friend who is getting on in life a bit. Well the next round figure he hits is 80, sorry Joe. He is an ex butcher and has the gift of the gab around women. As you know they are serving them all day.
While we were standing leaning on the rail of the Jetty, two middle-aged gentlemen and their women walked passed us. As they did one of the ladies said to the gentlemen how far is it to the end. Joey said "that's what the bride said to the groom". The two fellas burst out laughing, but nothing from the women. The wind was blowing from them to us and I could quite clearly hear one of the gentlemen say to the women "you don't realize what he said, do you". No doubt he told them and you could hear all four of them erupt into laughter.The above photo shows myself on the left and Joe on the right and a nice feed of Red-fin.
This photo shows when the high tide takes away the big beds of seaweed and the following photo shows when the tide starts to subside and the grey blotchy shadows are the maggots. They will eventually cover the water that is trapped there the next photo's are close-ups.You are looking at pure maggots and the next photo shows you a close-up.The above photo shows the maggots at the base of the rock and climbing up to try and get out of the water.
The next photo shows you a miniature wave of pure maggots as it hits the shore-line.I remember saying before, you can scoop up buckets of pure maggots. Again they have no smell. These photo's were taken on 3rd June 2012 and when you look at the photo below at how long the bed of weed is and it holds maggots like the photo's you've just seen. Plus there is hundreds maybe thousands of beds similar to this along our coast. You realise the importance to the food chain.The photo below shows 4 weeks later.
This photo is of myself with a blue Groper and a reasonable cray and the following photo shows the Jumbo. I would say this is 1974 when I brought the brand new HQ Holden ute and destroyed it hunting in the bush, the same one they called the coka-cola bus. Spearfishing and diving for Crays was another habit.
I remember when the xmas holiday's were finished and we were going to pack up and head home. While the wife would be packing all the odds and sods into boxes. I would say I'm going up to have a dive, knowing it would be my last swim for awhile. This particular time there was no-one to go with me, so I went by myself. Which is something you should never do.
I remember when I pulled up at the spot that I chose to dive, there were three or four young fellas that had not long got out of the water. I walked over too them and started to talk. I noticed they had a little cray. I told them the Rangers patrol this area and I think your cray is just under-size. They said we thought it was pretty big. So no doubt this was their first cray and they were beginners. I told them how big the crays get.
Then I started to put my diving gear on. They asked me if there was any chance they could swim with me. I said yes. As we were swimming around and I was diving, they were messing around trying to shoot different fish with a hawaian sling. Every now and then I would duck down to one of my holes, take a cray and swim over to the boys, they were carrying my bag.
When I'd finished diving, I had five crays. The biggest was maybe 4 or 5 lb. As I was sorting them out at the ute. The young fellas couldn't believe the size. I told them there were crays out there that would double the biggest I had. The seas that day were exceptionally calm, something that doesn't happen too often at Augusta. So I told them I was going to drive to another spot up the coast. They asked me if they could follow me, which they did.
This time I swims out into some deeper water to a ledge I knew, because the seas have to be calm to dive it. I told the boys that this spot was known for jumbo's. Before we got there I dived to a cave I knew and there's 3 or 4 crays, I took one and went up too the young fellas and put it in the bag. When I dives back, as I come to the entry of the cave, there's a big Blue Groper coming out with a cray leg sticking out of his mouth. No doubt it had come off the cray I had just got from there. I could of all but touched him and it's a sight like that you never forget. I never had my spear gun with me and the boy's only had the hawaian sling.
When we gets out to the ledge, the young fellas are starting to get a bit edgy and frightened. They were no longer swimming around, they were sticking together. When I went down and had a look under the ledge, there's a big jumbo, maybe 9lb. I went straight back to the surface without having a go at him. I said to the young fellas, there's a big jumbo there and I told them, when you see me go under the ledge, you's dive down and have a look.
When I dives down the cray had gone back. There's enough clearance for me to go after him. When I got him I pulled him to my chest, which makes it easier to handle. Because they wrap their big legs around you and cling on. I've also got my left hand on his back, which also makes it easier to handle him. I done this intentionally knowing it would spook the boys. I rolled onto my back with the jumbo on my chest and when I came out, the young fellas weren't too sure if I had the cray or if he had me. When I got to the surface. We were all treading water and they said that was so scary. This is a photo of Brett and it shows you how easily these jumbos can wrap their legs around you.
Like I've said some experiences stay with you forever, hunting or diving. We'd gone down to the west coast chasing the whites, a smaller variety of the cray. I was with a friend who I dived with for many years, Daryl Fisher. This day the weather was unbearably hot. I remember as we were getting our gear out of the ute the sand was burning our feet, a mad dash for the waters edge.
Apparently the swells had been up a couple of days earlier and the water was dirty. We were that keen for a dive. We decided to walk along the beach for a kilometre or two, hoping to walk onto clearer water, to no avail. We decided to turn back. I said to Daryl, "I'm going to go out behind the reef and swim back part of the way". Mainly because the sun was so hot. Daryl said "I'll walk".
So I swam out maybe 2 or 3 hundred yards. As I was swimming I could barely see the bottom. I'd been swimming a long way, I think it might have been due to a gap in the reef I was following, which was maybe 50yrds closer to shore. The water seemed to clear enough for me to see the bottom and I could see the long feelers of a cray poking out from under a ledge. But I'd been swimming too far and maybe too fast. You can't hold your breath to go down when you're exhausted.
So while I was laying there trying to get my breath back, a hell of a squeaking noise come into my ears. I held my nose and tried to blow air, thinking it would release the squeaking in my ears. All the time I was locked onto those feelers, not wanting to lose the spot. But the noise wouldn't go out of my head. I even pulled on my mask , thinking that might be the problem, but it wasn't. It went on for maybe 10 minutes.
I remember turning my head to the right and when I turn to the left, all I could see was a big head and a big eye less than 2 feet from my face. I know you can jump sidewards in the water. Then I realize it was a dolphin or porpoise and he stayed that close and circled me. I lifted my hand slowly to see if I could touch him, but he wouldn't quite let me. I have no doubt, he thought I was in trouble and all that squeaking was to get my attention and to look at him. What was so scary at first was so nice. He swam away and I swam to shore. I told Daryl what had happened. Then he said there was a big school or pod of dolphins all around you.
The photo above shows myself on the left and two of the grandsons, Ricky also Daniel roughly 9 years old and a friend who done a lot of diving with us over the years Maurice. The young ones would swim with us for a while and then head back to shore, while Maurice and myself would head out a bit deeper.
The next photo shows when we come back to shore the boy's had got themselves a sea-cobbler. I remember another time I had taken the two little ones up for a dive and the wife was sitting on the beach. After about a half an hour swimming in the shallows with the boys. We swim back to shore, I said "you's stay here now I'm going to go out for a cray". Rick had had enough, being thin the cold water would catch up with him. Daniel having a bit more weight on him, didn't feel the cold so much and asked if he could swim back out with me and carry the bag, which he did.
The water was quite choppy and a fair bit of movement in the tide and it can be a bit of a battle even for an adult. He was carrying 3 crays in the bag and I could see he was battling. I remember as I was taking the 4th cray, I looked up and here's the cray bag coming down too me and Daniel was heading for shore. So I caught up to him and we both swam in. Not a bad effort for a 9 year old. The photo above shows Daniel when he was maybe 12yrs old, holding a Groper. He was now capable of putting in the big swims. Sometimes there might be 8 of us in the water. Different people I befriended also their girlfriends and they were times you don't forget. A full bag of crays and half a bag of ab, add the groper too that and you wonder what the rich people are eating.
One of the young fellas with us was a fighter pilot, another one was a speed car driver in the big league and the others were not long out of university or still going.
The above two photo's show our granddaughter Crystal and it's another one of those incidences you never forget. I was cleaning fish at the scaling board, Crystal was watching and she said "Grandad could I catch a fish", I don't think she was asking me to take her fishing, she was more so asking if she was capable of catching a fish. I said "you certainly could". So when I finished cleaning, I took Crystal and her cousin Thyme straight back up too where I'd caught them, because when I stopped fishing they were still biting. Many people have commented on her style. The following photo also shows Thyme catching what I think was her first fish.
The photo above shows another granddaughter Leah with a salmon on the line, her friend Jacki on her left watching her. It's quite a battle for a young lady and it may take ten minutes or so to land it, by that time their saying "my arms are hurting I can't do it", but they battle through every time. Then it was Jacki's turn. The little girl on the right is Crystal and Russell Jack all waiting patiently for it to be landed. The following photo shows you the result.The next two photo's show another friend of Leah's, Jane and the two salmon she landed. I remember another time I had gone up by myself and when I walked onto the beach where the above photo's were taken, I could see the school of salmon. I've said before these salmon are known as hospital fish. They have schooled up in behind the shallow reef and their too scared to go back out, the sharks and porpoise's have already hit this school and many of the fish are wounded and I've seen them stay here for five or six weeks.
When I looked up the beach to my right maybe 50yards I could see a family fishing. There was a man and his wife, who I think was a Phillipino, there son who was maybe 9 or 10 and daughter about 11 or 12. I left my gear and walked up to them. I said to the gentleman "would your boy like to catch a salmon". He said "he certainly would". So I said follow me back up to where I'd left my fishing gear and a twenty litre bucket with fresh bait that the salmon will not refuse. I told them if they looked deep in the water just inside the reef, they will see the salmon laying there, which they did.
I told the young boy how strong these fish are and he would be in for a hard battle. So I cast the rod and passed it to the boy, it wasn't ten seconds and the rod was buckled over and the reel was screaming. I would have dearly loved this on video, the young fellow was panicking a little and the family were all cheering him on, after maybe 10-15minutes he landed it and he was thrilled to bits.
Then it was his sisters turn, she said "I don't think I could handle that", I reassured her she could and the same thing takes place with the family cheering her along and she wins the battle. I said to the gentleman would you like to catch one, he said "yes please", which he did again with the family cheering. Then I said to the mother "you can catch one now". I forget what she said, but the look on her face was enough. I regret not having a photo of them.
I didn't bother catching one myself I think I had enough excitement watching them, also I had taken 27 salmon out of that school in the last week with the grandkids and the wife also pulling a few in.
That family would never forget the experience.
I remember saying to the wife this day, we'll go and visit a couple of friends at the time Graham and Jill, who were living on a farm that his father had just brought and they had not been long living there. I had a HQ Holden ute at the time and the road rules weren't like they are today. There was my wife our youngest boy Craig who was maybe one at the time also the second youngest Brett about 5 in the front and our oldest boy Dave about 11yrs and Jamie the second oldest 8 in the back of the ute with Rusty (pig dog). We had to travel roughly 50-60klms.
When we got there I said to Graham "we'll take the dog for a run and see if we can get a pig". So after we had a bit to eat, I said to the wife "Graham and myself are going for a run" I must have said it too loud for the boys started to perform saying we want to come too. We had intentions of going to the little bush pub. So I said to Graham have you got any small fishing lines, he said no but I've got a big beach rod with an Alvey reel hanging in the shed.
Again I was thinking back to when that old bushman told me (it's no good getting old if you don't get cunning) and knowing how much the boy's loved their fishing. I said to Graham "cut three length's off your Alvey about 20ft long and we'll make them three little hand-lines" because maybe 100yrds from the house I could see a gully dam that had thrown back maybe 50yrds of water. I told the boy's that there was fish in that dam. I also said to them pull up clumps of guildford grass or better known as onion grass and get worms for bait. As we were driving out of the farm we could see the boy's running down to the dam.
We finished up driving through a pine plantation, there was an old abandoned settlement from the early settlers and the road we were on was called Windmill Gully. I would imagine the road got it's name because it might have been one of the first wind-mills in the area in early times. Then comes that sound the pig-hunter longs to hear, the dog screaming on the back and spinning, he's got the scent of pigs. I can't remember I think we got two and then we headed straight for the pub and we put in a few hours there. Then it was back through the bush too the farm with a half a carton of cans on the seat between us.
When we pulled up at the house, I said "the boy's are still at the dam" and the next couple of photo's show you the result. Graham did not know what was in that dam. The photo above shows the tuft's of grass the boy's pulled out for their bait, which was worms. Also Graham and young Brett showing some of the Perch. You can see Dave and Jamie are still keen. The following photo shows how close it was to the house. I think it was 19 they got.
The photo above was taken on the 7th Feb 2013. The young man is our grandson Rick (19), Bretts oldest boy and as you can see there's a nice feed of crabs. It took maybe an hour to catch them, using a scoop net like you can see in the half tub. Which they drag through the water behind them.
It's a way of life that many Australians enjoy, because the blue-manna inhabits the entire coastline of Australia. I remember diving for these crabs in the late 60's-70's. The waters maybe 10ft deep in places and when you dive to the bottom and your swimming along the sand all you would see is their eye's and mouth and they were very hard to identify, they were camouflaged and submerged under the sand. When you got close enough to them they would throw their big claws up out of the sand and it would actually scare you.
I seen a sight one day, I was swimming along the top looking for a likely spot for a crab. I could see a fair size tree trunk laying on the bottom with some of the root system still attached. I dived down to it and I could see at the base of the log, quite a few cockles and shells of dead crabs. I knew straight away it was an octopus's den. When I put my face close enough and my eyes started to focus, I could see quite a large hole, also an empty stubby or glass bottle. Would you believe it moved and blocked the hole I was looking at. I grabbed the bottle and could not move it, it was wedged in tight. I called a couple of my mates over and we all dived together and we could handle the log, so we took it too shore. Even then it was a job to get that bottle with two hands. Its unreal the strength the octopus has got through the suckers on his tentacles.
I saw another incidence with an octopus when I was diving for crays. I dived down and I was looking under a big rock, as I put my head inside a hole and my eyes started to climatise I could see a fighter cray. I missed him with my first attempt with the gaffe, so I went back up for air. I know this hole and I knew he couldn't beat me. When I go back down and I put my head in the hole again and my eyes focus, I cant see the cray. I was looking on the walls of the cave also the roof. I returned to the top to get more air. When I gets back the third time looking for the cray, I was looking at about two inches of the crays feelers which are normally 18 inches or two feet long. Then I realized a big octopus had engulfed the cray.
Now I'm thinking two for the price of one. I put the gaffe into him, but I cant move him, the suckers have got a grip of the rock. I started to pull back and jerk the gaffe, but he wasn't going to let go. I pulled that hard one of his big legs come off. I'd over stayed my time and I was desperate for air. I remember spitting my snorkel out as I broke the surface so I'd get air quicker. It takes you 5 or 6 minutes to get over that so I was just laying there looking at the hole. When all of a sudden the big octopus comes out and I'm watching him walk across the ocean floor. He's still got the cray. This time he's got nothing to hang onto. I went down and gaffed him and put both into my bag.
I had another incident with an octopus that nearly drowned me. I was swimming with another mate at the time and I spot a big octopus on the floor. I dived down and put the gaffe into him and I swim back to the top, his big legs are reaching out for something to grab hold of. I look at my mate and I point to the bag, he knows I want to put it in there. He shook his head violently indicating no and I shook my head indicating yes. He reaches out as far as he possibly could with the bag open, as I was trying to manoeuvre the ocky into the bag. One of his legs grabbed hold of my mates arm, it happened so quick the ocky's got him with all his legs now. I've got him by the head and I was jerking as hard as I could and my mate was screaming as loud as he could. It got up under his armpit and the screaming got a bit louder and I went into a fit of laughter and I all but drowned. You had to be there to see the funny side, but I assure you it's not a place you want to lose control. Sorry Doug.
I remember another time that was even more dangerous than this. I was diving with another friend in maybe 50feet of water. We were on air hoses or hooker. Again we were swimming along the ocean floor when we spot a Dew fish, the most sought after fish on the divers menu. I was carrying the cray bag and the gaffe, my friend had the spear gun. I watched him go into the gun-fighters crouch, also some little bubbles came out of the back of his wet-suit. I knew he was excited.
We were following the Dew-fish for quite a while before my friend got within range. I was swimming maybe 15-20 feet behind him and I could also look down the barrel of the spear-gun. This is something you don't do, the fish is a little bit side on but still swimming along. He cant resist it and pulls the trigger. The fish will automatically straighten up to dart off and its a clean miss. Embarassed he turns to see if I had witnessed it, he knew I had because I was laying on my back with my hand up indicating to him that he was a wanker. I could see the big burst of bubbles come out of his mouth-piece and I started laughing as well. Then you realise and come to your senses, your in 50 feet of water.
Sorry Neil Fraser (but your father did electrocute me).
The photo above shows myself on the left and brother-inlaw Pete after a night fishing for taylor. The three biggest are 8lb each, one is six lb, five lb, three lb and two lb. There's and old saying with fishermen !this is my last cast! and it's very rarely it is. This particular night we must have said it ten times. It's a quarter past nine at night and we'd been fishing for maybe 4 hours, for not a fish. The little stuff were picking the muelies off in pretty short time. The clouds are banking up and we knew there was rain coming at us and that old saying !wet arse and no fish! was looking ominous.
Then the words you long to hear. Pete say's "I've got something good and it hit hard" Taylor are notorious for this, it's generally a double hit. He gets it to the beach and I was ready with the gaff. I said Pete "it's a f!!king big taylor". remember this is a true story and that is exactly what I said. He baits up and re-casts, I've done the same. Then Pete say's "I've got something else and it's big", the same deal when he gets it to the beach it's another 8 pounder. Again we both bait up and cast . Normally we get on pretty well but this is straining the friendship. Then I'm hooked up, another 8 pounder and I really cant remember who got what after that. Or maybe it's time that has made me forget it was 5 to 2 Peter's way.
Then the rain came, we packed up and headed over the sand-dunes to the dinghy. I knew we were in for a scary trip. The big tide had lifted the dinghy up onto the reeds. Now we had to cut across the mouth of the river as we come out of the estuary. When we hit the incoming water, we likened it to being inside a washing machine. We were in a 12ft dinghy and not a lot of free-board and looking back it was a silly thing to do. We should have continued fishing in the rain and waited until the end of the tide, unnecessary risk and a bit of dumb thinking.
So all you young fishermen take heed and eliminate a risk when it's possible.
It's a sight like this that makes fishing easy, also the following photo. It was unexpected the sun had gone down and it was quite dark. I said to Brett it was as though someone had turned the lights on and if you get a feed of fish it's a bonus.
The photo above shows our oldest son Dave with a fiddle shark he caught. I've seen a lot of these over the years fishing with my father but nothing to match this one. We used to release all the fiddle sharks we caught. Mainly because of their size, but this one being so big, I thought we'd give it a try. Also I've been told the professionals had a market for them. To be honest with you, it tasted a little bit like sh!! gone bad. I shouldn't have to tell you that, we wont take another one.
The next photo shows Dave his oldest boy Scott holding a hammer-head shark and Cherie holding a pike (1998).
There's not too many fishermen that can say they've caught one of these on a big hand-line, I'm refering to the jumbo cray not the fish. The two young fellas in the photo are my boys Dave and Brett.
I remember we were fishing off a big rock and the fella that was with me said "I've got something on" also he said "It's not too big". It was night-time and when I shone the torch I said "you've got seaweed on". He said "no its not I can feel it tugging". We couldn't believe it when he got it to the top of the rock, which was maybe 15ft from the water. The big line had put a half hitch on the end of one of his big legs. When we're diving for crays you cannot hold onto their legs, they will reject them every-time.
I remember my father would get annoyed when crays would get on his line when fishing for dewy. He was telling me one time he pulled a big cray in to the base of a rock he was standing on. He said he tried to shake the cray off, but the hook had penetrated him. He said he decided to keep it and put it in the bag.
Later on when he got back to his car there was a gentleman and his wife, he asked dad if he'd done any good. He pulled the big cray out of the bag and showed him. He said "I'm not too keen on cray but someone will want him". The fella said "I'll give you ten dollars for it". Dad said that was more than enough to fill his fuel tank, so the both of them were more than happy.
If the authorities had have seen this they would have booked my father. But I will bet you 100 dollars to a pinch of sh!!, if one of these fellas with authority was fishing and done the same he would do the same, but maybe charge a bit more. My father was a generous generous man.
One of his hobbies or interests was on a Saturday mornings, he would go down to the TAB and place two or three bets. Then he'd go home and listen to them on the radio in his shed, while he made many types of sinkers, which he stored in various size plastic containers. He would give them to my oldest brother Tom when he visited also my brothers Bob, Reg and myself. Also my sister Phyllis ( she used to take her husband Neil fishing). The same one that laughed when the fox had my thumb in his mouth.
Something else my father used to do was put his small change in a plastic container. I'm not too sure maybe once a month a gentleman from the Red-Cross would call in and dad would give him the container. Another thing, there was a betting ticket on the wall above the wireless with the words (I love you Gog) I think from his oldest granddaughter Julie(Doolie as he called her).
The photo above shows two fellas I used to have a bit to do with, Tom on the left holding a dewy in his left hand, a sambo in his right and Mal with his sambo. We'd gone down to a section of the coast that I have fished off most of my life and also dived it. We'd planned to stay over-night. When we first got there we were fishing off a big rock. Looking out to the horizon we could see all the birds feeding no doubt on a school of bait fish. Which also tells you that there was big fish under them. The fishing started off a bit quiet, we were catching herring, but no luck with the big lines.
The next morning the seas had calmed. The birds were still feeding on whatever was out there, but they had come in a bit closer. We'd landed a carpet-shark also a pike and I think about ten or twelve dozen herring. It was mid-afternoon now the sun was out, blue skies and calm seas and it was time to start thinking about going home. It's hard to leave when the conditions are like they are. I suggested to Tom and Mal we might be leaving a day too early and I said what ever is under those birds might be in range tomorrow. I didn't have to say any more. They suggested we go into the closest town and ring the women and tell them we were going to stay another night.
We were a bit lucky, there was a pub there. So after a session on the darts we filled the esky back up with cold cans and back out to our camp. They're good times sitting around a fire, cooking fresh herring and having a few cold cans.
The next morning we waited for the sun to come up to dry the rocks, other-wise they are too slippery and dangerous to walk on. I've seen many people slip and hit those rocks and it hurts. Also there's been lives lost along our coast with people slipping and falling into the water. It's not necessary to fish before the sun dries the rocks. I've seen the best results mid-morning to mid-afternoon. You do not fish these rocks if it is raining, also if the wind is up and the spray from the sea can dampen the rocks, it's treacherous. There's many quiet bays with safe rocks you can fish, so travel a bit further and fish them.
I remember that last morning with Tom and Mal. We had some breakfast then went out onto the rock. The wind was coming from our back and out to sea. I said to Mal to put a balloon on the big Alvey and send out a live herring, which he did. I pulled in another fresh herring and turned it into a flapper by cutting the backbone out and leaving the two fillets hanging from the head. Tom put it on his big rod and was fishing on the bottom. We hadn't been there long and Tom said to me "somethings having a go at my line". Next thing his reel was screaming, he jerked the rod back trying to hook whatever was there. But he didn't hook up so whatever was there dropped it.
He started to wind in, I said "Tom leave it there, because you'll still have your bait on, they can't get the flapper off". Next thing Tom said "it's back again" and the reel starts to scream . This time he hooks it good and it runs a lot of line off his reel, then it starts to slow up. He starts pulling the rod back and winding forward, each time regaining some line. Then the reel screams again, but not for long and he's got it coming in. It does a big arc to the left then turns and does an arc to the right. I said "Tom my money says it's a Dew-fish". There's no better sight fishing from shore, the waters calm and crystal clear. We can see the big silver and black bands. The tell-tale signs of a Dew fish. After I gaffed him, we were standing back on the rocks admiring him. I knew Tom's adrenalin would be pumping, mine was and I didn't catch it.
Then we hear Mals balloon go off. He ran over and grabbed his Alvey and it's on again. This things running a lot of line off, arcing to the left and to the right. I've seen this happen quite a few times in this area and you can just about bet it's a shark or samson kingy, even when it gets in range it's hard to tell all you can see is a big dark figure down deep. Then it comes to the surface and we could tell it's a sambo. I gaffed this one also and we've got it over the back of the rocks laying along side of the dewy. Tommy's got his big rod back in the water and fishing on the bottom.
Mal said "I'll take the fish back to the camp and start cleaning them on the edge of the water." I yelled out to Tommy and said "wind your rod in and we'll go give Mal a hand to clean the fish". He said "no I'm going to try catch one like he got". So I went back over to him and said "pull your line in and cut your sinker off", which he did while I caught another herring, put it straight on Toms hook and he throws it back out as far as he can. The live herring will stay on top for awhile. I don't think it was there five minutes and the rod was buckled over and the reel was screaming again.
It was a days fishing a lot of fishermen never get to experience, their techniques are not right. Maybe the reason for this is they never had someone to point them in the right direction, like my dad did for me.
The next photo shows myself with a sambo, photo was taken in the mid 70's. As you can see they're shaped like a torpedo and he earns the name of Samson for his strength. Like in Samson and Delilah.
I remember he hit that hard the big hand-spool went over the side of the rock and into the sea. I've still got the line in my hands. I said to my mate Graham, you grab the other end of the line and try to pull the hand-spool back up. It's got 3 or 400yards of 120 lb breaking strain and it's fairly zinging through my hands. I've got as much pressure as I can hold without cutting my fingers, hoping to wear out or stop whatever it was. Then Graham said "we've got troubles, we're at the end of the line, the spool is coming up to us". I remember when he had the spool in his hand, thinking we'd lost the fight. When all of a sudden the line stopped running and I slowly started to retrieve line back onto the spool.
If you look at the fish just above my left hand, you can see where the big hand-line was cutting into him when he put that run in.( I'm not going to tell you where the rock is ha ha) maybe if you ask me in the guest-book I will tell you. Smee again many years later.
No cut fingers or sore hands this time. We've advanced to the rod and reel and there's no better than the Alvey for handling the big ones.
The photo above shows three of my boys, Craig on the left then Jamie and Brett. They're about to have a feed of what I've always known as Swamp Gilgy and in later years Coonac and I would say this has been a tradition with country people or people from the bush since time and they are as nice as eating as any of our fresh water crustaceans. I picked this habit up as a young fella thanks to my father. I remember wading in the creeks with him and he would turn over small logs and rocks and tell me to pick up the little gilgies, which he used for bait to catch the fresh-water red-fin perch.
I also remember when I was first old enough to wander from home, I used to walk maybe a kilometre to some fresh water creeks with a couple of mates. I'd have lumps of kangaroo meat for bait and I'd place them amongst the rocks in shallow waters and you could pick the little gilgies up off the baits with your hand. We'd do this until we had a sunshine milk tin full, which was about two litres. Dad had made a handle for the tin with fencing wire, which made it easier for us to lift on and off the fire.
We also sometimes had potatoes that we would put in the hot coals of the fire and they would burn black and we would roll them out with a stick. When they cooled down we would take the black crust off and if you haven't tried this with your grandkids you should, they are very tasty. There's no excuse for not doing it because they will enjoy it, you can do it in the back-yard. Even some of you city people that want a little bush life.
I remember leaving home very early in the morning and getting home a little bit too late in the evening. But by staying late I got to know the coonac, we would get one occasionally coming out of his hole in the bank of the creek. They don't like permanent water, they're mostly found in creeks that dry up early in the summer and they burrow down to the water table. They're mostly found in the big winter flats that feed our rivers and creeks. No doubt when you add up the big picture they're in their millions. Or were.The photo above shows Brett on the right and his son Rick and tells you it's been a way of life with our family and a lot of different country people. I remember one time a friend of mine was putting on a party for his son, I'm not too sure if it was his 21st or engagement. He asked me if I could get him a pig to make some sausages. So I took my second oldest son Jamie out, who was maybe 15 or 16 at the time. The dogs got a couple of nice pigs. So I headed and gutted them, knowing they were going to bone the meat out and it made it a bit easier.
It had just got dark, I said to Jamie there's a creek out here that I think would be good for coonac but I've never tried it. So we took the heart and liver and Jamie put them in the creek. I also had a couple of drop-nets and there was a bush dam I wanted to try for yabbies a couple of kilometres away. There wasn't many in the dam, we got 11 big ones and many small ones which we didn't take.
After about an hour we went back to the creek. You could not see the heart and liver, it was blacked out with coonac. Jamie couldn't believe what he was looking at, there was also a big circle of them five or six feet out trying to get to the bait. He picked up 120 with his hands.
But it is fast becoming a thing of the past, due to the blue-gums preventing the good winter waters from the hills, trickle feeding the flats and creeks and the water goes bad before it's time. I've watched this taking place in many areas. The coonac have gone. Also the mines are taking out many of the main water flats and creeks where the coonacs live and stops the water that feed our rivers.
The photo above shows one of our grandsons Clint (2 years old)and you can see he's pretty happy showing off the catch. Photo taken 14th August 2013. As we were puting the photo of Clint on the web-page, the door opens and he walks in. When he sees himself standing there holding the fish up. He said "Clint (heaby fish)".
The photo below is his father Brett at about the age of roughly 10 or 11 also showing off a couple of nice perch he caught.
The reason the perch above are hanging on a fence is I made the mistake one day of leaving them on the ground, maybe 15-20 ft from the river. There were 5 or 6 of them on a stick and I'd poked it into the ground and I walked off trying different pools further on. They were all big perch and they can get quite heavy after awhile. I remember one time I had two sticks and thirty something big perch on them. I had to leave the river and make my way up to the road where I left them on top of some bushes and picked them up later in the car.
When I said I left those ones on the ground and went off trying to find more. When I came back, the stick had been pulled over and only one perch was left. I found one on the edge of the water, it's stomach and gills had all been eaten and the rest of the perch were gone. I know it was water rats. They had no doubt smelt where I had pulled the perch out of the water and up the bank. They have a deadly nose.
I remember one time I used to go out to a spot where a farmer had built a platform over the edge of the river. He'd set up a big pump that irrigated 22acres of lucern used to feed race-horses. I used to sit on this platform many times by myself. I'd have a drop-net in the water on either side, a bucket of minnows which are live-bait and I'd throw two hand-lines in the water with live-bait on.
This day I'd been there for maybe an hour or so and the bait I'd had in the drop-nets for marron were a couple of fatty chops. They'd caused an oil slick that I could see go across the river to the other bank. I was looking back up the river on the other side and I could see ripples, maybe 80-100yards away. At first I thought it was a duck coming along the bank, but as it got opposite me, I could see it was a big water-rat with his head out the water. I watched him hit the line of the oil-slick, turn and come straight across the river to my drop-nets and I'm sitting maybe 4or5 feet above him, he was none the wiser. Then I watched another one do the exact same thing.
I've seen some sights over the years, when sitting on the bank with a couple of hand-lines in the water. Some times I'd have my fathers double barrel shot-gun. This day I'm sitting there and I watched a fox walking along the edge of the water on the opposite side, he didn't know I was there until I pulled the trigger. I hit him with duck-shot. He cartwheeled and bolted. I watched him zigzag not knowing where the shot come from. It was maybe 40 years ago. I think the charge was too light to kill him, so maybe he survived. But I'll bet you he's still running.
I've said before, there still should be a bounty on the fox or better still a market for their skin. Because there must be many many thousands in the South-west of Western Australia alone and they are Australia wide. Back in the early days and even in my time, the Government put a bounty on the Wedge-tail Eagle. I think it was two and sixpence a beak or 25cents in todays currency. The same was paid for the beak of an emu. They were native animals. Yet there's no reward or bounty that I know of for the feral fox and cat. The damage these two do to our fauna will shock you. I know this is the fishing page, but I will show you 2 photo's of a feral cats den.
The first one you can see a couple of them quite clearly and the second photo shows you the destruction they cause with our fauna. If you look closely at the foreground you can see the carcasses of little dead animals, also many bones of whatever they've killed in the past.
A picture says a thousand words and you'd have to agree with that when you see the look on his face. It's the 3rd of September and this photo was taken yesterday and I think it will stay in his mind forever. He was sitting on his nannas knee and he watched the fish splashing as they came out of the water and onto the bank, 4 or 5ft from where he was sitting. I deliberately lifted them into the air and they flicked water onto his face. Then he watched me take the lure out of their mouth and throw them up on the clear bank short of the high water level. The photo's will make sure he doesn't forget it.
I told a story one time when I was a little fella and my father took me by the hand and walked me over to an abandoned bridge. Where he had a long pole or bamboo stick, with a piece of fishing line maybe 10ft long tied to the end. He would have known the marron was hooked and he told me to watch the water as he lifted it up. I believe I was no older than Clint and it's never left me.
The next couple of photo's will show you what the perch prey on.
The big one on the left is a marron and the other two are gilgies. I took these out of the perchs feed bag. I remember a lot of old bushmen. Who also chased the perch telling me, that they prefered to use the biggest of the gilgies. They seemed to think they caught bigger perch. I can't dispute that because I very rarely used them for bait, it was mainly worms in the early times also minnows, which are small fish.
The reason for this was the rod and reel was non-existant and we used 20-30yrds of fishing line, wrapped around a jam tin. I've said before, my father would also use a small length of pine, maybe 4" round and 6" long, which he put inside a sock that was cut to the right length and nailed to the end to make it neat.
I remember when we'd be fishing on the bank of the river. We'd have a hessian spud-bag laid out and we'd feed the line off the jam tin onto it, so when we cast it wouldn't get tangled in the small sticks and reeds on the bank.
The next photo shows that the perch will eat whatever moves in the water. The little fish on the left is known as a pygmy perch, I always knew them as a shelly. What the old fellas used to call them, they were heavy scaled for their size, maybe an inch long and they had all the colours of the rainbow in them. Next to him is a fresh-water shrimp and when the conditions are right, they breed by the millions. The last one on the right, I don't know his name, We've always said they are a water beetle.
The photo below shows some of the types of small fish that we used as live bait to catch perch. The lighter one in the centre of the photo is a minnow and you can see he's quite a bit longer than the others, which I've always known to be black fish or mud fish.Below shows you looking into a bucket of water and if you look close at the edge of the bucket you will see a few little shrimp that were accidently scooped up while scooping the little fish. I released all of these into a different section of river, where I knew they would survive because the mines had stopped the water getting to their pool. I went back a couple of days later and I was too late. They died in their countless thousands.
I will show you photo's in time that shows you this is the truth. I said that the shrimps breed by the millions and why I know this is in 1983, 12mnths after the January floods of 82, I dived these pools and all the root systems and vegetation on the edge of the pools in the water, was a crawling mass of shrimps.
Another incident that gives you an idea of how many shrimp there were. Bobby Carroll and myself used to drag a hessian spud-bag through the reeds and trap the minnows. We'd tip maybe 3 or 4 dozen into an esky and release what was left, which was maybe 100 or 2. Then we'd go out perching. The minnows that were left over when we'd finished, I'd take home and put them into a pool that I'd built out of bricks and cement. It was maybe 6ftx6ft square and 2-3ft high. I even had reeds growing in there.
I was sitting at the table one night and I was telling whoever I can't remember. He said I'd like to have a look at it. So we went out with the torch. I didn't know myself at the time, but there must have been a half a dozen shrimp in amongst the minnows, when I last tipped them into the pool. When I shone the torch into the water. There was countless hundreds of little eyes. The shrimp that I tipped in must have had eggs. The pool was covered, the floor, the walls.
So you can imagine what the river looked like and it was all because the big winter floods had flushed the river out. I believe everything else that lived in this water would have benefited as well. It tells us how important the big water flats and water-ways are that contribute to the heads of our rivers and keeps the quality of the water up. Check it out because when they're gone they're gone forever.
The photo above shows our oldest son Dave with a Samson Kingy or Deep-sea Kingy. He hooked this one in shallow water on a big hand-line and they take a bit of handling in conditions like that. He had been throwing some burly in and was catching a few herring and no doubt the Samson came in chasing the herring and it took his big hand-line that he had in for a Wobby, that's better known as a Carpet Shark. There's a lot of meat on both these and it's a way you can keep the tucker bill down. Also like I've said before we like to give different families a feed, especially the older ones that no longer fished.
I've seen times when we would catch maybe 20 dozen herring or more. The best I counted was 32 dozen. It was before the day of the freezer, we could only keep our self maybe 3 or 4 dozen, which would fit in a little freezer in the fridge. The rest we give away to different families. One German fella I knew would take what-ever I give him and he would smoke them and give me half.
Some people might think it's wrong to take that many fish or we were greedy. But I don't agree, because we give three quarters away. Greedy people don't give things away and my idea of wrong is when you see certain people run a net around 10 ton and take the lot, with permission from the Authorities. Then it's repeated the next day and there used to be many nets along our coast. I don't know if it takes place today. But I know it was not that long ago. It's a season that runs for maybe 2-3 months. This also takes place with the Salmon. I'm not smart enough to add this up, but I would guess it would be thousands of tons and more.
Whatever their excuse for this is I will never accept. All these fish that they are taking are travelling north along our coast for 100's of klms. They are all full of eggs and at the end of their journey they will spawn. So to take them before they have spawned, to me seems so wrong. Especially if these fish can be taken on their return trip after they've released their eggs.
I remember in the 50's, fishing with my father on the beach and he'd say "look out the back in the swells" and when it lifted all you could see was a wall of herring that was hundreds of yards long. Then a little bit later there would be the same amount of Salmon following. Sometimes they would run like that in intervals of maybe every half hour.
I remember another place I've fished all my life. It was off of a big rock, which was maybe 15-20ft high and I've seen times when we'd throw burley in, which was pollard mixed with a bit of water also canola cooking oil. If the wind was in our back and the seas were calm, I've seen oil slicks from our burley that went towards the horizon as far as the eye could see. The herring would be that thick in front of us, you couldn't put a figure on it and every so often a big school of Salmon would come in and get stuck into the herring.
There's no better sight if your looking into clear water watching this. Many times they would grab the herring on our lines and break it. I've even seen when they're in a frenzy, they'd grab the wooden blob that we used to keep the bait on top for the herring. One time I looked out to the horizon and there was a massive school of herring coming in on the oil-slick and the waters bubbling.
When you think that there were different parties of fishermen doing the same as what we were over 100's of klms on our coast, it's hard to put a figure on them. They're no longer like that. Mind you there's still a lot out there and still some good fishing. I don't believe it's people throwing a single hook into the water that's done the damage. The photo above shows Dave with a Mulloway he caught and he's about to put him on the operating table. He's been hanging on the clothes-line all night in the cool winter air and it firms the meat and makes it easier to fillet. Then the wife will take it inside and slice the meat into feed size fillets, stack them onto meat trays, wrap it with glad-wrap and it's put away into the freezer.
We also grow our own vegetables. So between wild rabbit, wild pigs and fish it all helps to keep the tucker bill down. Also we know what we're eating and I believe it is a lot more healthier than a lot of the tucker that is brought from the big stores, which is imported from other countries. I've seen some Documentaries on this and I wouldn't feed it to my dog. Then there's the insecticides they spray on their vegetables. Then there's all the preservatives that are in our food today.
Look out Australia!!
I remember the day I caught the mulloway in the photo above. It was a sunny day in winter and I said to the wife. "I think we'll go down to the jetty and put in a few hours fishing". We headed off about 10o'clock in the morning, just the two of us and our little Jack-Russell when he was a pup, maybe 8 weeks old. When we walked out to the start of the jetty where they'd set up a kiosk. There's a toll you have to pay to fish the jetty. It applies to the tourists also. It's very cheap $2 or $2.50. There's an observatory at the end where you can go beneath the water, maybe 15ft-20ft. There's a cover charge. I'm not too sure of the price again I think it's worth it.
As I went to pay, the gentleman said "who's the little dog belong to". The wife had him on a lead. I said "mine". He said "I'm sorry mate there's no dogs allowed". We'd travelled about 80klms from home. I had my back-pack on with the big hand-lines in it also the running-gaff also other bits and pieces. A small flick-rod for catching my bait, a 20ltr bucket. So I was all revved up for a bit of fishing. I said to the wife, "what if you go back to the ute with Russell-Jack". Which was the name my father used to call him. The wife had a puzzle magazine and she didn't mind putting in a couple of hours with it, (or a couple of days).
So once again I'd worked it out in my favour. I said "after a couple of hours, wind the windows down a little bit and leave Jack in the car and walk out to where I'm fishing". I was on the very end of the jetty, which is 2klms long. When I first got there, I threw a couple of handfuls of burly in the water. Then I placed 4 big hand-lines about 10yards apart. I cast my little flick-rod in, the waters filthy dirty and a big herring grabbed it instantly. I'm standing there with it in my hand thinking, it's a bit too big to put on one of the hand-lines alive.
I was real keen to get a big hand-line in the water, so I decided to put it on and threw it straight back in. I place the big spool up on a piece of timber about 15-20 inches off the jetty. I done that, so that if I wasn't looking, when something took it, I would hear the spool hit the jetty. I quickly threw the little rod back in for some more live bait for the other 3 big hand-lines. Then I heard the clunk of the hand-line hitting the jetty. It was slowly moving and I thought the big herring was doing it. Then it moved too quick for a herring. I didn't have time to wind my little rod in. So I dropped it on the jetty, grabbed the big spool that was spinning, turned it side-ways so there was no give. At the same time giving it a jerk, making sure the big hook has penetrated.
Because like I've said before the mulloway has a hard mouth. After a couple of runs the line starts to go sidewards. Then those distinct head shakes and you can bet two of whatever you've got, it's a mulloway. When I get him to the surface and the base of the jetty. I'm looking down at the big silver body of a mulloway. I held him there letting him wear himself out just below the surface, with his head sticking out. If you let his body go beneath the water, the weight will release on the line and if the hook is in his jaw, there's a good chance it will come out. I've lost them like this myself and it takes some getting over.
The hardest is still to come, there's not a soul on the jetty to give me a hand. I have to walk backwards maybe 15-20 yards to where I'd left the running- gaff. All the time thinking if the hooks in his jaw and he goes below the surface, I'm going to lose him. Now I've got the running-gaff in my hand, also the big hand-spool and I'm slowly winding the line back on as I cautiously walked forward. When I get to the edge and look down, he's sitting there pretty much perfect with his head out the water. I clipped the running-gaff onto the line and run it down and over the mulloways head. I'd let go of the big hand-line and started to pull the mulloway up.
The running-gaff has got a thick rope on it and it allows you to get a grip to pull him to the top of the jetty. As I get him to the top and lean out a little bit so he doesn't hook up on the side of the jetty, I can see the big hooks haven't got him right and when I tried to snig him over the side, the big hooks give way. I'm standing there with the running-gaff in my hand and I watched him hit the water with a hell of a splash and disappear. Shock sets in and before I've got time to start crying, the big hand-line spool starts to spin. So I grabbed it and I've still got him on, pulls him back into the right position, runs the gaff down again.
This time I make sure the three big hooks have gone over his head like they're supposed to and pulls him up and over onto the jetty. The reason he stayed on my hand-line was he'd swallowed the big herring and I'd hooked him deep in his stomach in the feed-bag. As I was sorting things out I looked up and the wife was standing there. She told me she had rang the ex-daughter in-law Claire, who lived in Busselton. She said she would come out and take Jack to her place. Which allowed the wife to walk out not long after I had got there. The mulloway was still flapping on the jetty when she arrived. So it was a short fishing session but very exciting.
This photo shows the running-gaff.
The photo above shows Ron holding a python I think. He was the brother of my old mate Lofty and a good friend of mine. He hunted the bush all his life and fished the rivers. He also loved his darts and was part of the pub scene before my time and that's how I got to know him when I first come on the scene. Quite often I came onto Ronnie when I was hunting pigs. One of his favourite spots was the head of the Harris River where the Edward Formation railway bridge crossed over. There was a narrow pool maybe 20-30 yards long and 7-8 yards wide. One side was lined with iron-stone rocks. The opposite side was lined with reeds that covered the water maybe 2-3 yards from the bank. The water was only roughly 2 metres deep and crystal clear.
I dived it one day with big Boof Johnson and I could see big perch go back under the reeds that lined the bank for protection. Ronnie used to sit on one of the rocks with a hand-line with live minnow for bait. He'd have 3 or 4 meat baits along the bank in different spots and every half an hour or so he'd go along with a snare on a stick and he'd come home with a feed of marron also a feed of perch, also he'd have a couple of big bottles with him. I reckon Ronnie kept this spot to himself, because I never seen another man with him.
I was talking to him one day and he asked me how I caught my minnows, the little fish for live bait. I said I either drag the narrow creeks with a hessian bag or catch them with cotton tied on a stick with a bent pin as a hook, with a bit of worm on it. That was how all the old bush-men caught their bait. He said "I'll show you something that I've made up." He had rolled up a piece of fly-wire netting roughly 2 foot long and shaped like an ice-cream cone. With a big opening at one end tapering down to nothing at the other end. He had a bit of rope tied to the big end and he showed me how he lowered it into the water. He had bits of worm and some pellets inside it to attract the little fish. Then he'd pull it up as quick as he could. Quite a few would beat him, but after a few goes he'd have enough for a session of fishing. Maybe 2-3 dozen.
I went down one day and borrowed it and I took my father out to show him. He said "it's a good idea, it beats standing there for an hour or two trying to catch your live bait one at a time". This was in the mid sixties. I've said before my father was quick to work out if there was a better method to do something. He said "I think the same principal we use for a marron trap would work on catching the live bait".
The marron trap was made out of 3 push-bike wheels. They'd stand them on their edge about 2 foot apart and brace them with fencing wire, tied from one end to the other, maybe 4 lengths. Then wrap it with chook wire and when you stood it on it's end it looked like a 44 gallon drum. Actually some fellas were known to use a 44 gallon drum, with the ends cut out and then cover it with chook wire. Which had a hole in the middle and a short funnel about 6 inches long that went inside the trap. The marron would go through the funnel to get whatever bait they had inside.
The old fellas mainly used kangaroo or rabbit. They'd go out to where ever they decided to go, somewhere secluded and throw it in the pool. Two or three days later, they'd go out and pull it. The results varied. They could have a half a dozen or maybe 2 and a half dozen if they were lucky. Again this was before my time. I don't think there was a season or limit.
So dad made the minnow trap the same style as the marron, only a smaller version. He had a thin piece of wire tied to the rim of the hole at one end and ran it through the middle of the trap and out the hole at the other end. We'd thread maybe a half a dozen worms along it. I remember when we first tried it, we threw it into a small pool in a creek. There was maybe 4-5 dozen minnows in the school. They came straight to the trap and they could see the worms dangling through the fly-wire netting and they went absolutely silly banging the wire trying to get in. When the school went to the end of the trap and a couple went through, the rest followed. We had the lot in maybe 5 minutes. The photo above shows the minnow trap also Rebel.
I was telling another old fella that I worked with in the Shire about the trap and he asked me if I'd take him out and show him. His name was Dick Cole. I remember when we got out to the creek and baited the trap. We could see again maybe 3-4 dozen minnows in a school. So I chucked the net in and watched it settle on the bottom, it was only about 3-4 feet deep. I had about 10 feet of rope tied to the trap, so I could retrieve it. I said to Dick "we'll sit on a log and have a smoke". About ten minutes later we pulled the trap out and we had the lot. He said "it doesn't take long to catch them does it". I told him I've stood there at different times and watched them go inside the trap within a minute. He said "it beats getting in the water with a hessian bag, especially in winter when it's cold".
A few days later at work, he came up to me and said "I was telling my old friend that I go perching with about the trap and he asked me to put it to you, if we could have a lend of it". I said "you certainly can". Dick told me later that his mate couldn't believe the result. His name was Ed Riley Snr. Also another gentleman that used to go out with them. His name was Bowers. All three of these fellas are no longer with us and some of the stories that Dick told me, I would have liked to have been around in their time. He said 100 perch in a session of fishing was common.
The rivers they fished are now dead. The likes of the Hillman and West Arthur, maybe 80-90 klms east to south-east of Collie. There were many other old bushmen that used to catch the red-fin perch around Collie. The likes of Bill Barber, who I bumped into many times in the 60-70's also later when he was getting old. He was always keen to know what the perch were like. It's a shame they never had a camera.
The next photo shows an old bushie that liked his perching, Harry Flynn.
As you can see, time has caught up with Harry, but he still liked to sit on the bank of the river with a tub of minnows. He also done a lot of kangaroo hunting with my father and another old bushman by the name of Skin Laurie. Who I've told previous stories on. Harry always had kangaroo dogs.
The little girl in the photo above Amanda used to live next door and I remember this day like it was yesterday, but it was maybe close to 30 years ago. Her father Trevor was a fitter in the under-ground coal mines where I also worked. I was telling him one day that my old Toyota 4 wheel-drive was on it's last legs, blowing smoke real bad. He said to me "I can do that motor up for you, over a few days". He said "I'll work on it after we knock off from the mines". Which he did, free of charge. I said to Trevor this day "I'll take you out onto private property and you can cut some fire-wood for the winter". We were going to fill the trailer and the ute.
After he fell the tree and started to cut it up into foot lengths. I said to Amanda "would you like to see a fish?" She said "yes please". So I grabbed my little flick-rod which I always had behind the seat. We only had to walk about 50 yards to the river. There was a small narrow pool, which I'd taken a lot of perch out over the years. I stood Amanda in front of me about 2 feet from the water. I told her to look at the log that was submerged in the water. I said "when I throw the spinner and start to wind it, you keep your eyes on it until it comes to the edge by your feet" and what I was hoping would happen, did.
The big perch she is holding come out from under the log and grabbed the spinner on top of the water. I knew she'd seen the lot because she jumped back-wards and that vision would stay with her, I think forever. Like when my father pulled that big marron out of the water. I would have been about the same age.
The next photo taken in 2009 shows you Amanda when she's grown up.
The photo above shows myself on the right and the brother-in law Pete. Many fishermen will never get to experience a fishing session like the photo shows. It was quarter past nine at night and we'd been fishing for a few hours with not a bite. There was another gentleman fishing, who we knew, Joey Ingram. He decided to give it a miss. He told us he'd had enough as he walked passed. I told him the next day he hadn't gone ten minutes when my line started to move and I landed the first Mulloway. A bit later another one started to play with my bait. At times they can be a bit picky. This one started to take the line, but he dropped it. He done this two or three times.
I passed the big hand-line to Peter and said "feel this". He done the same a couple of more times. I said "put pressure on the line so he can't take it". Peter said "there's a lot of weight here". I said "well pull the trigger". But he didn't. Then he said "he's gone there's no weight". He's still got the line in his hand, then he say's "he's back again". Again I said "well pull the trigger." For whatever reason, he wouldn't. Maybe because it was my line. But I've always thought it's a better fishing trip if we catch the same.
He passed the line back to me. Before I took it I said "I'll pull the trigger if you don't". Which I did instantly. It's an adrenalin rush that equals having a big boar in your sights or wrestling with a big jumbo cray under a ledge or in a cave. So we've got two mulloway. Next minute Peter say's "there's something messing around with my line" and it's on again. When he gets him to the edge, I runs the gaffe down and over his head. We've got three. Not long later, I'm on again. This time Peter runs the gaffe down.
Now we've got to get four of them back to the car. Pete put a rope through one of the mulloways mouth and tied it around his waist. Then he had a mulloway in each hand and he's dragging all three along the jetty like a pack-horse. I've got the other one and all the fishing gear. It's the only time this has happened. To some people this may seem to be the wrong thing to do, as far as over fishing. But with mulloway you might go another 10-15 times before you catch another one.Peters got three boys and his wife. Then I've got the wife and four boys also my mother and father who were too old to catch their own and they liked to have fish every day for dinner. I kept them supplied for many years also my older brother Bob would have dinner with them every day. (so I fed you to Bink). Also I gave old people many feeds.
The photo above shows our second eldest son Jamie on the right with brother-inlaw Pete. I would imagine Jamie has told his mates he caught all of these and if you look at his finger on his right hand it's meant for me. I'm taking the photo, roughly 25 years ago. Another thing Peter has still got some hair with a bit of colour.
The next photo was taken on the 9th of April 2014 and you can see what time has done to us all, look at his head. But there's some nice perch. I've said before I've chased perch all my life, thanks to my Father. Peter and myself have chased them since 1966.
Pete's a boiler-maker by trade and he done his apprenticeship in the city, which is about a 2 and a half hour drive from our home town Collie. I used to leave certain pools in the river at different times of the year for when he came home. One of the pools was quite shallow at one end, maybe 20-30ft before you ran out of water. So we used to wind the spinner fast enough so it stayed on the top and many times we would see the swell or the bow-wave of a big perch coming in behind the spinner and the next time I see that, will be just as exciting as the first time.
The following photo was taken 2 days before on the 7th April. I remember when I was cleaning these fish, I said to the wife I should ring Peter. But I wasn't too sure if it was a jag, so I decided not to ring him. I said I will go out to a different location that's similar to where I got these and the photo below shows you the result.
The photo above shows our youngest grandson Clint Peter James which he prefers to be called and if you don't he will recite it until you do. He's still short of being 3 years of age and he looks a little pro. The following photo shows him sitting on an Engel holding up a perch that weighed 3lb 8oz. We entered this photo into a competition that was promoting Engel which we won and we recieved $500 worth of Engel products.
This is a short video clip of our grandson Clint pulling in a perch. They're never too young to start. He's landed quite a few perch in his short time 3 years of age.
There's no better feeling than to hear the excitement when a little fella like Clint gets onto a decent size perch. Also their actions like the following video shows.