31 Dec Some Memorable Days of Fishing at Wedge
There are three ways to catch fish; from the beach, from a boat or by spear fishing.
All three versions have their devotees. The beach fishermen believe that standing on a tripod, or being wet to the waist on a winter evening casting over the break is the epitome of the fish taking art. Some of the well known beach fishermen came to Wedge and built shacks. The inaugural president of WIPA was Vic Davis.
Vic was also active in a fishing club. Then came Norm Macey Snr and his mate, Brian Mews and many others. ‘Young Norm’ Macey carried on his father’s success and made some significant catches at Magic. One incident firmly embedded in my mind was an evening I accompanied Brian Mews up north to try catch a Tailor or Mulloway. At that time I had only a antique split cane rod and barrel reel inherited from my father. When shown the rod Brian was critical of me ever catching anything. My reel was as old as the rod so was the line. I was initiated in the finer art of rigging the outfit using hooks and traces from his well equipped fishing box. He found what he thought was a good gutter and fishing began. The art of casting is reasonably easy after a few years of practice!. My efforts were plagued by overruns on a barrel reel. The rod had the flexibility of a karri tree trunk so my bait failed to reach the objective…. the clear water of the gutter. Suffice to say eventually I caught a 12 lb Mulloway but Brian and his wife, also a keen angler, failed to score. Talk about mugs luck. I am sure Brian has never ever forgave me .
The “ boatees” tend to seek out the top group of deep water denizens: Jewie, Baldies and Snapper. The spearos were not held in great esteem, especially by boat fishermen. One of the very keen original boat fishermen was John Shepherd who fished deep during the day and at evening spent some very lucrative time out at the “skippy hole” Other well known boat enthusiasts were Jack and Rikker Hill. Jack spent a lot of time in “Dawn” his dinghy down at the “cricket pitch” catching Jewies. Another well practiced boat fisherman Rosco Knipe has made a reputation at the ‘skippy hole’ and many tourists and friends have been supplied with a feed of skippy.
Having been introduced to the Wedge scene I along with many of my WAUC club mates dived Wedge waters. In the early days getting a boat to Wedge was almost impossible so we opted to swim off shore. This meant you had a long swim to get into deep water. One way we overcame this problem was to bum a ride on Al Bacon’s boat. This had a few disadvantages. We were up at dawn, out on the ‘Loomer’ with the sun just over the horizon. At this time of the day visibility was limited until the sun was higher. As the crayboat reached the first line of pots we were overboard. There was plenty of action for us as the undersize crays were tossed back overboard. A cray 60ft from the reef is a welcome meal for any big predator as they are very vulnerable until they reach the reef. The boat would take off down the line and then often disappear out to another line of pots. If the breeze came up and white caps appeared finding a couple of spearos was nigh impossible. This meant a hour or more swim home towing your catch. Believe me the fish you caught were hard earned. Three or four hours of diving , often in water 60-80 feet deep saps your energy. Getting a lift back was always welcome. There have been some hairy dives. One I’ll remember clearly was a dive 5 miles north on the outside of the reef. Six of the WAUC members , Jackie Paxman, Frank Paxman, their son Barry, Jim Sewell , Kevin McLennan and myself were diving from Frank’s boat ‘Red Terror’. As we were burleying up one diver took his turn to stay on the surface armed with a smokie (a virtual sawn off shotgun) on the end of a hand spear to watch for sharks. Kevin was on lookout when I saw him dive and hit a shark on the head but the smokie failed to fire. (the shot gun cartridge had got wet even though the cap and end had been sealed with nail polish) Back to the boat reload ad back into the water. Kevin yelled look out it’s a big b*****d and upended and dived to meet it. As it passed Kevin he fired hitting the animal in the gill slits. It stopped yawned and expelled a lot of bubbles and blood and then slowly swam away. We had all seen the animal and to ensure a reliable identification everyone was asked to keep the identifying features until we got ashore. Then each would write the features they had seen, then the papers would be put together. The absolute correlation of each diver told us we had had a white pointer about 11feet long for company.