Dredging the Shoals
Richard Wallace and Ward Nicholas
Gold foil fluttered in front of us, the dawn light glinted off the back of the waves as Ward and Flytime with me on board edged out of the harbour. There was a little swell despite the good weather we had over Easter. Ward had declared it “Maggie Shoal time” while the weather held after Easter, but now it was “let’s check out the cardinal mark in the shipping channel and then we’ll see about the shoals”.
At the mark not a solitary bait fish was evident, well maybe there was one. Rods were rigged with suitable weighted flies for the 15 metre depth and so a few attempts were made. Nought happened. Malcolm Brown and wife, Tania turned up with their two boys. Opinions were exchanged and off to the shoals it was. “The weather gets better farther out” with a favourable forecast was the prediction.
Off we went, Malcolm led the way, and Grumpy Old Men, ambled along behind at 20 knots. Ten miles to go, would be a half hour run. Out on the chosen shoal, I was soon hooked up. The TFO Blue Water Light was fairly doubled up for about five minutes, then it went slack, break off.
Now Ward was hooked up, and the fish was fighting. It slashed on the surface, and then jumped –“Queenie!” Two or three jumps later the metre plus fish was beside the boat and I grabbed the tail wrist. Nice fish, but it was a gill bleeder, and kept for the kitchen.
I replaced my fly with a depth bomb. After a visit down on the Gold Coast with Vince Margossian (aka “queenfish”) I followed his lead and made weighted eyes out of two ball sinkers (you choose the size) held together with 150lb mono and araldited. These were on a 6/0 SL12S hooks with red collar, white tail with UV flash. Meanwhile Ward gets down by placing a bean sinker in front of the QANTAS colours fly.
So I let the fly sink – the whole 100ft, water depth was 29 metres, and some backing and then start stripping. Kerbang! and the fish is on, it stays deep, no circling, just pulling. After what seemed like a very long time, say five minutes, he came up. A nice golden, and I shyly admit, my first. I had thought of breaking the duck by sight casting to a fish on the Cockle Bay flats, but no. Nevertheless a nice fish and it coincided with my birthday.
Things went quiet for a bit. Then Ward was on again. This was a very good fish. Wards 12# doubled over and stayed doubled. I went on fishing, Ward gained line, then lost it, I went on fishing some more. After some time, with short intermittent gasps (these things pull you know!) he got back to the fly line. So it went on for 15 minutes. Great, the fish was coming up the water column, the angle of the line was less vertical and more horizontal in the clear, greeny blue water.
It was about this time that we saw the shark, 6 or 8 ft deep and about the size of the Stacer. And it was gliding down. Yep a few seconds later Ward’s line is slack as a Bronco’s defence. The leader is cut as neat as a razor. Never saw the fish, probably a big golden or GT.
And yes, the sea glassed out, oily smooth and with small mack tuna bursting through the surface, splashing and occasionally leaping, but never long enough to get a shot off. Teasing and moving on, this way, then that. We left them having their little joke on us. Malcolm and his family got onto fish too, so it was a good day for us all. By 1230 hrs it was coffee o’clock, and we headed for home.