Perth pt 3

Boy, have I got some fishy stories to tell.

I haven't done any sea fishing since I was a nipper, I simply lost interest trying my luck off shore in England, as I never caught anything more than a cold. But here...WOW. The sea is quite literally teeming with life. It's pretty much impossible to drop a line in the water without something grabbing your bait within seconds. Unbelievable!

The first day up in Port Hedland we took a ride out in a 4 wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser down to the local beach (about 1 minute away) To get anywhere worth mentioning a 4 wheel drive vehicle is a must around here, since many of the roads are little more than dirt tracks. It would be very easy to get bogged down in a conventional vehicle, even the 4wd's struggle in places. Anyway, when we arrived at our fishing spot my friends daughter cast out first while the rest of us were still baiting up. Suddenly...bang, she was in to her first fish, a barracuda shark. That was it, I couldn't wait to get my line out. Within the next 30 minutes, I had the most amazing fishing I've ever experienced. Not only was I getting fish straight away, but as they were being reeled in bigger fish were having a go at the one hooked. Several times I actually lost my catch to what looked like BIG barracudas. I actually managed to land a version of mackerel at well over a metre long (I have photos to prove it) which we had for supper.

The daughter caught a really nice reef shark which we cut up into fillets for tea. A mixed bag of other fish were also landed by us all, but after a while we started getting choosy, throwing fish back which in the UK would be considered a life time best. The next day, now well and truly bitten by the fishing bug, I went back there again. This time, however, only the catfish were biting. They were absolutely huge, and a devil of a job to get in to shore. Just when I thought they were played out, they would tear off 50 metres of line from my reel in a matter of seconds. To the cry's from everyone of 'LET HIM RUN' and 'DON'T TRY AND STOP HIM' I ran up and down the beach struggling not to lose my tackle to these whoppers.

Trouble was when they were brought in I had to be very careful getting the hooks out, as they have some very evil looking poisonous spines on their body which they were just itching to stick in to anyone mad enough to touch them. I caught two of those buggers, I was glad to put them back into the water...scary!

Talking of scary, the next day I was fishing in a different spot copying what I'd observed others doing further down the beach, which was standing up to my thighs in the rolling surf and casting out into the deeper water. Suddenly I noticed a reef shark swimming on the surface not far from me. Thinking to myself that discretion being the better part of valour, I hastily retraced my steps back to shore, when I saw an even bigger one cruising menacingly by right behind me. Sod that, I was out of there quick smart. If you could see the teeth on those buggers you would understand why. Even a small one could make a sizeable dent in your leg. You should see the way they demolish an 8-inch long pilchard...sideways. There is something very nerve racking about that big dorsal fin cutting through the ocean. Very reminiscent of Jaws.

What with the stone fish with their deadly poisonous spines, and the blue ringed octopus with their highly toxic venom, and the deadly box jellyfish just floating about, plus sea snakes and salt water crocodiles, it makes you think twice about going for a paddle. There is a sign by the side of the road before the beach showing a swimmer with a red line through it, and a piccy of a crocodile underneath. I didn't need telling twice. I was talking to a back packer the other day, and he told me he'd hooked a shark more than 2 metres long down by the jetty on a hand line, and didn't know what the hell to do. So he got some Japanese tourists to take a photo of it in the water before he cut it free. I'd been fishing off there only the previous night with my feet just dangling in the water. Makes you think...

I also hooked a mud crab off there that evening, you should have seen the size of it, like something out of the movie 'Land of the giants'. I was screaming, 'What shall I do?' My friend was screaming 'Swing it in, you stupid bugger'. Thank God, it just lazily reached up and snipped through my line like a knife through butter. Phew! Gave my rod a good work out though, bent it almost double.

If I'd managed to land it I'd have run a mile, it scared the living daylights out of me. I swear its claws were the size of my arm. Why is everything so much bigger over here?

We are going fishing out in Andrews's boat on Sunday if the weather holds out, that should be an interesting experience.

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