Time capsule unearthed
  |  First Published: October 2003

When I recently tidied my home office it soon turned into a major exercise as I unearthed some closet classics, a heap of dust and dirt and enough old tackle to have a garage sale. I’m just glad my wife wasn’t taking much notice of what came out of the cupboards and got thrown out or had never been used!

It’s been seven years since my last garage sale. Every bit of tackle that I’d bought in that time was desperately required at the time but it was amazing just how much I’d used only once or twice and is now totally out of date or fashion. Some of the lures I uncovered weren’t even fit for a garage sale and I couldn’t believe that I’d actually bought them with the intention of putting them in front of fish! Some others were more than 20 years old, like the old knife handle lures I used to use when spinning from the rocks. They’d been through several house moves and hadn’t seen the light of day in more than 20 years so out they went, along with a heap of old home-made trolling lures.

Of even more comic value were some lures that had been sent to me at various times for review, in the hope that they’d catch fish and get some magazine coverage. How about a box full of brightly coloured spinnerbaits still in their packets? I don’t fish for bass and have never used them! What about a bag full of US lures that defy description? I still haven’t figured out where or what to use them on! They went straight to the tip, not in the garage sale.

There was also a heap of line in lengths that were too short for anything and a swag of gear that was experimental at the time and was never released.

I sold most of the usable stuff very cheaply or gave it away to kids in our area to encourage them to get out and wet a line.

Back to the future

This past Winter I spent a fair bit of time chasing blackfish from the rocks when the weather allowed. These fish are always a reliable standby and my family love blackfish fillets done in egg and breadcrumbs. Halfway through Winter a mate of mine, Roger Morley, produced an old blackfish rod built on a sloppy Butterworth blank and decided to fish with it for a change. The rod had an action that resembled a piece of limp spaghetti but it certainly worked well on the blackfish. Even more surprising, it stopped some reasonable drummer on 3kg and 4kg line. We worked out that the sloppy action was much more forgiving on the light line we use for blackfish, and we decided that a sloppy rod was more effective than the MT4144 rods we’d been using in recent years. The MT4144s are great rods but are probably a bit too much stick for blackfish and light line.

I remembered that I had an old Conolon blank at home, which was custom built as a blackfish rod. It was originally built about 15 years ago and the 12’6” blank had been lengthened out to almost 14 feet. I hadn’t used the rod for many years so I decided to hacksaw it back to 12’6” and rebuild it into a blackfish rod in the style of the old sloppy pieces of spaghetti we used to use many years ago. I fitted it up with eight lightweight Fuji guides, a graphite winch and EVA grips and even did the binding job myself. The guys at McCallums did the epoxy job and it came out looking a million dollars with purple over purple binding and silver trims.

Next I dug up my old Avon Royal reel and loaded it up with some new Platypus PreTest, and even bought a few floats to go with it. Considering I haven’t used anything other than a bobby cork and threadline to catch blackfish for almost 20 years, it will be a buzz to get back into them on the centre pin reel and floats. I can still remember that feeling when the old float drifts out through a wash, goes down and you strike into a solid hook-up on a thumping blackfish. The centre pin is much more direct and there is no drag to help you out. It really is a great feeling and a very ‘hands on’ style of fishing.

1) This shot was taken in 1985 and the rod I’m holding is the same Conolon that I recently rebuilt. It caught a heap of blackfish in the eighties and 2004 should be no different.

2) October means striped tuna and maybe even a few rat yellowfin. Most of the wider grounds are producing fish but even the front of Jervis Bay is a worth a troll with some small skirts or minnows.

3) The inshore washes and beaches are producing some salmon at the moment. Lures and fly are the go and it doesn’t matter whether you’re land-based or fishing from a boat.

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