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Fishy conspiracy theories
  |  First Published: May 2003



Several occurrences over the past few months have had me seriously asking the question if some fish have actually worked anglers out and are awake to what fishing is all about.

As stupid as that may sound, let me recount what has happened on a couple of recent trips to have me thinking this way.

The first was a session chasing blackfish from the rocks at Currarong last Christmas. I was fishing with Percy Bow from Sydney. I’ve known Percy for about 25 years now, since we both fished with the St George Sportfishing Club back in the late 1970s. We’ve done a lot of fishing together since those days including live-baiting the rocks and estuary and outside work.

This day we had some blackfish in the berley and we were getting heaps of downs and the odd fish. A stiff north-easterly was blowing side-on to our location, making hard work of it, and I blamed the wind for the number of downs we missed before we eventually packed it in with a dozen fish between us.

For some reason the fish seemed to be biting very gently, barely pulling our small bobby corks under. I went down in cork and trace size but it didn’t seem to make any difference, so I just dismissed the incident and forgot about it.

That was until several weeks later, when the same thing happened on a calm day when we could see the fish at our feet as they fed on the cabbage we kicked in. Again we went down in cork, trace and hook size but no matter what we tried, we couldn’t get a fish to seriously take a cabbage bait and getting a hook up proved very frustrating. I ended up with about 15 fish but I must have missed have missed twice that many downs without even feeling weight. Roger Morley had the same problems and he, too, commented about how difficult the fish were to hook.

Between those trips we spent a few sessions chasing flathead on soft plastics in the river and, believe it or not, I reckon they were touchy and not grabbing the lures as vigorously as they normally did. I lost count of how many fish grabbed the tails only and missed the hook.

Just as interesting was the number of fish that were lightly hooked and got off within sight of the boat. We changed lure size, colour and shape several times and I lost count of how many times I checked the hooks for sharpness.

These incidents started some crazy thought in my head that maybe the fish had finally worked out how to see fishing line or hooks, or that maybe they had finally been told about lures. I know it’s a pretty weird conspiracy theory but just maybe there is some basis to this. It wouldn’t be the first conspiracy theory to be proven to have some substance, would it?

The only problem now is that I think I’m becoming paranoid and every time I go fishing and miss a bite, I start wondering who worked it out and told the fish and, even weirder, how they communicated .What the?

A new rig

I’ve been thinking about getting a bigger boat for almost a year now. Back in the middle of last year I had Christine and two of our three kids out in my 4.35 Quinnie Top Ender. We spent the morning chasing squid in Jervis Bay before the wind picked up and made it too uncomfortable.

Just by chance, we ran into a former workmate out in his new boat – a 5.6 metre Trailcraft Sportscab with a 115hp four-stoke. It blasted past us in the chop and made my modest rig look quite inadequate for family boating in Jervis Bay.

While the Quinnie has been great boat and, in its five-year history, it’s accounted for some good fish and great times, our family and my fishing needs had slowly outgrown it. It seemed like I had to bite the bullet and do something about a bigger boat.

Just by chance, a second-hand, 5.4-metre cuddy-cab hull came up at the right price in January and after some deliberation, we made the decision to grab it and fit it out with new running gear. First order was for a new trailer as the original one was rusted beyond repair.

Once the hull was on a trailer we set about fitting it out for serious fishing. The original motor was just about shagged so we eventually decided on a Yamaha 115hp four-stroke that should do the job very well. The motor was fitted locally by Abbey’s Autos, the Yamaha agents in Nowra, who did a top job. Very neat and professional to the point that you would have thought it was the original engine. After several preliminary trips I’m more than impressed with the performance and fuel economy.

Next was a big order to BIAS Boating in Rockdale, Sydney. They were great to deal with –I simply faxed the order for almost two grand’s worth of bits and pieces and went up the following weekend to pick it up. Their catalogue is very easy to read, the range extensive and the prices very competitive. Included in the order was new steering, a 27-meg radio, EPIRB, compass, battery boxes, cables, fuel filter, bilge and livebait pumps, switch panel and lights. The next few weeks were spent fitting it all in and dreaming about fishing from the new boat.

Next was a 130-litre fuel tank that fits under the floor and should give us a range of almost 200km. I’m not planning long-range trips but it will be good to be able to do half a dozen trips outside without having to fuel up. I haven’t done any fuel tests on the motor yet but I know several other anglers who are raving about the economy of 115hp four-strokes on boats around 5.5 metres, so I’m confident we’ve made the right choice.

I’m just in the throws of setting up a sounder and chart plotter and then there’s a live-bait tank, bait board and rocket launcher/bimini cover, so you can imagine how busy I am with work, fishing, writing and trying to juggle a family life while spending more time than necessary playing with my new toy.

I’ve also found that BOAT stands for Bring On Another Thousand! I should, however, thank my wife for being understanding, although I’m sure she is looking forward to the odd family day out on Jervis Bay, now that we can do it without getting wet or wind-blown. I also must thank close friends Roger Morley and Bob Russo for all their assistance during the fit-out. I’m sure we’re going to have some great times ahead in that boat so keep watching this space.

TRANSPARENCIES

1

Andrew Finney fishing some Shoalhaven River oyster leases for bream.

2

The weather is getting colder and that usually means it’s time for some bread and butter rock species. Geoff Taylor with a two kilo pig.

3

Some nice blackfish are still around from the local rocks. This one ate a fly fished on a No 6 outfit.

4

Finney’s Quinnie is finally moving on and making room for a bigger boat. Geoff Taylor with one of the old girl’s best efforts in her five-year history – a 26kg king from Jervis Bay.

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