FISHING AT LAST!
After everyone’s stories from down south about awesome autumn weather, great waves and the fishing going off, I figured it was about time for an article about my first few fishing forays since arriving in Port Hedland. The only slightly annoying aspect about working at boatramps, running skipper’s ticket courses, is that you get to see everyone before and after their fishing trips. With light winds up here last weekend, it was action a plenty and skippers were proudly holding up their catches of Spanish Mackerel, Coral Trout and Red Emperor on their return. Many of the larger boats were doing big trips, some out as far as 50 nautical miles, way beyond the limitations of my 4.2 metre boat, but I was certainly keen to do some bluewater fishing if the opportunity arose.
So with a 3-5 knot wind predicted, a good ‘bite’ day before the new moon and a day off work, I was all set up to head out at dawn on Anzac Day. As I entered the main shipping channel at Port Hedland, before the sun came up, an unusual grey coloured vessel was motoring into the harbor and it was soon revealed to be HMAS Maitland, arriving for the dawn service. The crew on deck were happy to give me a wave and as I had my camera handy, I snapped off a few shots, one of which is attached here. The wind was light at that stage, just as predicted, but as soon as the sum came up half an hour later, I was cursing the wind prediction as the 3-5 knots quickly became 10-15 knots and rising-umm! I was soon down to 10 knots boat speed and formulating a plan B, as heading out 15 kms was not going to happen. With little choice, I turned back to a patch of ground I had found last year, which had not produced much, but was better than heading home without wetting a line. My small reef anchor was just able to hold on the lump and with premium cooked prawns for bait, I dropped over the side as soon as possible, before the wind took charge. Within seconds it was obvious the fish were hungry and with it came that excitement of being out on the ocean, the rod bending and just a little bit of chaos. In half an hour I landed seven blue lined emperor, lost two rigs and cut the line off on a small shark at the boat. Small boat fishing in shallow water can sometimes be a challenge, so with five keepers on board, the biggest 60cm, I was more than happy to pull anchor and head home. The next day I caught my first flathead off the beach in almost 20 years and so treated myself to a grilled whole fish on the Weber for lunch that day. There is a lot of talk further north about a possible barra frenzy, given the big wet this year, so I will be keen to test that theory next month when I get to Broome.
To answer last week’s question, the first iron ore shipment left Port Hedland in 1969. This week’s question is, ‘What is the more common name for blue-lined emperor?’
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