Packed with ironies
  |  First Published: February 2010

Fishing is a sport of many ironies. Many anglers spend all their expendable income on fishing gear that never gets used while others take up facets of our sport that make things as difficult as they can be to actually hook, fight or land a fish.

About a decade ago I fished saltwater fly for a few years. That is one area of our sport that puts the odds firmly in the fish’s favour and makes things hard for the angler.

Some fishing trips can be pretty ironic in their own way. I’ve had some trips that started off as complete disasters and ended up producing some outstanding fish.

I’ve also had the odd trip that promised a lot and produced very little. It’s the nature of our sport that makes it unpredictable but it’s also fun to observe the ironies that come along from time to time. A couple of recent fishing trips brought that home to me.

After a big day at Oran Park bike races, I told my eldest two kids that they could take my boat out with a couple of their friends and look for a shark. Daughter Elspeth weighed a 311kg mako on 24kg tackle that afternoon, my boat’s heaviest and biggest fish.

I was very happy for the kids but a little annoyed that I wasn’t there to help and witness a great capture.

Less than a month later I was off on holidays and spent quite a bit of time fishing with the family. We fished for snapper and flathead one day and son Andrew asked if he could take the boat shark fishing the next day with his mates.

I said yes and decided to fish for blackfish from the rocks. The irony was that they landed a 421kg tiger on 15kg tackle.

I got my own back in some small way because I caught a dozen blackfish from the rocks that day and I was quick to remind them all of that as we ate the fillets in breadcrumbs the next night.

I also had another win three days later with a 365kg tiger up off the Kiama Canyons.


The Shoalhaven River has been producing some fantastic jewfish in recent months.

It all started just before Christmas with a few fish taken down around Greenwell Point and Comerong Island.

Even over the peak holiday period some good fish were taken on bait and lures and it’s still going off as I write.

There are also some nice blackfish to be had down around Greenwell Point along with the usual bream and flathead at this time of year.

The river is fishing very well at present, which is very promising. It looks healthy and alive and the water over the Summer break was great.


Environment Minister Peter Garrett canned the proposed ban on mako sharks at the last minute after masses of protest letters and petitions. To give him credit, he did respond to the reaction from recreational fishos and would have copped an absolute ear bashing from various green groups over that.

There were several very dubious arguments put forward by the Greens as to why makos should be protected. Some of their press statements were pure lies.

Victorian Gamefishing Association and Greg Barrea of Shellharbour Gamefishing Club, who took the initiative and drafted letters to Minister Garrett and organised public meetings.


My son Andrew injured his hands while tracing a 260kG mako shark off Batemans Bay in mid-January. He got wrapped up in 1000lb wire and broke several bones in his left hand and put a bollard right through the palm of his right hand.

He had to be transferred to another boat and air lifted from shore to Westmead Hospital in Sydney where he underwent 5 hours of surgery for damaged bones, tendons and nerves in both hands.

He didn’t lose any fingers and it probably could have been a lot worse. The treatment he got immediately after the incident out on the water and over the following weeks couldn’t have been any better. Special thanks to Paul Blacker and crew on Mr Hooker and to the ambos, nurses, doctors and surgeons.



The author with one of a dozen blackfish he caught.


Andrew Finney unhooks a Currarong reddie taken on a soft plastic.


March is striped tuna time. They make great bait for anything from bream and snapper to tiger sharks.

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