Eden fishing and whale report, 21-23 October 2011

Over the weekend, Hamish and I descended on Eden, accompanied by a bunch of Hamish’s lovely Mexican mates. After driving down from Bermagui on Saturday morning, I was keen to hit the water, and was impressed to see the boat hooked up and ready to go when I arrived. After a quick catch-up and a few coffees, we were heading out from Quarantine Bay, 4 on board, to Mowarry point. The plan was to spend 10 minutes looking at the sounder to see if the kings were there. If not, Hamish was keen to head to Greencape, where the kingys seem to be far more consistent.

On arriving at Mowarry, we slowed right down and started the hunt. After about 5 minutes, we had hardly seen anything on the sounder. Very few baitfish and certainly no kings. Suddenly, one of the guys said they’d seen something on the surface about 50 metres away. Motoring towards it and looking intently at the spot he was pointing to, we saw a small patch of fish bust up on the surface. Frustratingly, I’d spent the last few minutes cutting off a popper and tying on a jig…BAD DECISION! We frantically cast slugs on bream gear and a small soft plastic at the receding school. On my second cast, I saw a beautiful blue and green fish with yellow fins charging in behind my lure. KINGFISH! I yelled!

The stella had a bit of a rest this trip

We spent the next half an hour or so casting poppers and slugs and plastics and jigging, but to no avail. Hamish made the call to go to Greencape, so we were soon on our way. Most of the way there was pretty smooth ‘sailing’, but as we approached the chop got a bit messy and we had to go the last 500 metres or so at about 6 miles an hour. It was frustrating, but  added to the anticipation and excitment of being in such an awesome place.

The birds were everywhere, which was a great sign, and it didn’t take us long to find a reasonable looking school of kingies on the sounder. After a few drifts and some serious jigging, it became apparent that they weren’t really playing ball. We decide to go and bottom bounce for a while, and had a great time catching morwong, red rock cod, ocean perch, flying gurnard, tiger flatties and the odd snapper. However, the fishing was fairly slow by normal standards.

Hamish with a nice rock cod taken in 30 fathoms
Em with a morwong
Most of the snapper were small. This one went back to fight another day

What was amazing about the day was the proliferation of whales, dolphins, seals and birds. The whales were the highlight, and we witnessed some awesome breaching, tail slapping and other antics going on all around us. At one point the a mother and calf came right up and had a look at us, and Christian and Jeremy resolved to jump in with them the following day.

Humpback mother and calf

We headed home and had some delicious cold beers and a beautiful fish curry, being joined by some more arrivals from Melbourne. The next morning was an earlier start, and we were on the water at a civilised 6.30am. At Mowarry by 7, we were greeted with glassy conditions and a nice cover of cloud to keep the UV down. The kings weren’t playing ball here, so we headed to Greencape again, noting that the water had warmed slightly from the previous day. Greencape was again alive with birds, dolphins, whales and seals, and this time the kings were on the surface in numbers. The mutton birds were providing a great indication of where the fish were, and Christian hooked his first kingy on a jig, which unfortunately earned its freedom after about 10 seconds. The look on Christian’s face was great, and he was pretty impressed by the pulling power of a big king. There wasn’t much he could have done to stop that fish busting off…

I soon figured out why. As I was retrieving a small plastic from a school of surface fish, I saw a kingy of at least a metre and around 15kg cruising in a few metres behind. I dropped the plastic back but the fish had gone. We had some good touches and saw lots of fish, but I suspect they were gorging themselves on the abundance of small yakkas and were very difficult to tempt. I read later that a handful of kings had been caught on the same day up at Montague Island on small metal slugs, so perhaps we should have spent a bit more time thinking about how to catch them! In saying that, we did troll some small slugs in the hope of picking up a striped tuna, but it was difficult due to the number of suicidal mutton birds diving after our lures and flying through the lines.

This was the school that Christian hooked up in….as soon as Hamish and I saw it on the sounder we knew it was on, and said ‘hang on boys!!!’ Unfortunately we only had one or two drops then an unfortunate tangle before we were off them…that’s kingfishing!
Part of a huge pod of dolphins that swam past the boat…I reckon they were hunting kingys

So, no kingfish! But later in the morning we were again joined by the whales, and a couple of the guys decided to jump in the water and see if the whales would pay us a visit. Positioning the boat a few hundred metres away, the whales had the choice to come to us or not. Amazingly, most of them were as interested in us as we were in them, and Christian, Jeremy and Perrin jumped in the water with them. At one stage, a whale, calf and possibly bull came within about 10 metres. From the boat, the dry ones among us were yelling ‘SWIM, SWIM, SWIM CLOSER!’ to those in the water, but they seemed decidedly reluctant to leave the security of the boat and swim towards the whales! Understandably, as the water was an ominous cobalt blue/black colour, with a visiblility of about 2 metres…and very very cold! Not to mention the stories of Mowarry’s resident great white shark we’d been sharing a few hours before…and the fact that some of the humpbacks would have been bigger than 15 metres long…

Perrin in the water with a whale

One of the guys caught a glimpse of the whale underwater, but it was a real privilege to sit on the boat and take the photos! What has really stuck with me is the sound the whales were making – an incredible, guttural growl, kind of like a huge angry cow mooing. The guys were all pumped and understandably so; if my adrenaline was pumping then I could only imagine what it would have been like to be in the water with the whales.

Closer to the whales

After that incredible experience, the wet ones went and got a few good abalone before we headed back to Qurantine Bay. On the menu that night was pork shoulder, potatoes and broadbeans for the first course, followed by two amazing steamed red rock cod that Perrin knocked together, finished with some thinly sliced abalone flash fried in sage, butter and garlic.

The red rock cod were done with the holy trinity of Chinese flavours; chili, ginger and lemongrass, finished with some fresh coriander.  Perrin has a bit of a reputation as a great cook, and he certainly lived up to it. The cod was perfectly cooked and had the texture and reminiscent flabour of lobster….truly delicious. Needless to say it was all devoured with gusto. Finished off with a healthy dose of Latvian spirits, whiskey, beers and pernot, it was a lovely little evening which capped off an awesome weekend. Hamish managed to just pip Emily in a crazy drinking competition that involved drinking as many differnt types of alcohol as possible from the liquor cabinet, with Hamish getting to 10 and Emily 9 different types. I was bloody impressed with both of them!

Sunday was spent being civilised, swimming in the pool and walking the dogs down the beach near the Seahorse Inn. The beach was great as I got to have a play with some action shots of the dogs with the new camera. I’ll finish the post with a few cool shots of dogs chasing birds down the dog-freindly beach…and in case you were wondering, the birds were fine…the dog just does it for fun!

Brandy chasing birds…or was the bird playing catchies?

Thanks to Hamish, Perrin, Christian, Jeremy and Emily for a great weekend, and of course to Julian and Gaida for the awsome hospitality!

Lee, October 2011

2 thoughts on “Eden fishing and whale report, 21-23 October 2011

  1. Awesome Lee – almost as good as being there! It’s all that other cool stuff you see when fishing that really adds to the experience.

    I think you should do a quick post about the newspaper article on the blog when you get a mo too!

    I’ve got a few cool tales from NZ, and finally a few cool pics to post too!


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