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wazatherfisherman last won the day on July 18

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  1. Great for John Dory as well, rate them second behind Mado's for Dory
  2. The usual rock fishing trip planned for the weekend had been 'up in the air' due to a fair sized groundswell, but with an enormous high pressure system moving right over the centre of the country and a forecast for really strong westerly winds overnight, we decided to at least take the drive to Dover Heights and have a look at the sea. The only reasonable weather forecasts back in the 70's and 80's were "only a guide" to what conditions were proposed to be like and often were simply worded "slight, moderate or rough" in regards to sea and "low, moderate or large" in regards to the swell- didn't really provide any decent detailed information like today's forecasts/surf-cams etc do, so going and having a look was the best guide to whether or not to proceed. For the record, the forecast stated "slight to moderate seas on a moderate swell"- which would normally have kept us home, but the forecast big westerly would quickly flatten the sea, leaving conditions that are always productive, due to plenty of food being washed in. A variety of species should be around and usually hungry to cash-in on the food washed in from the wave swept ledges. Weed and cabbage, crabs and "weed worms"- a small marine worm similar to a tiny bloodworm and found amongst the cabbage and cunje- all get washed in, on rougher days cunje also is added to the mix of natural food, in fact anything living on the rocks is food for one species or another. Different small fish species often shelter also, taking cover under the foamy wash and the ever present Pike would be darting around, presenting themselves as attractive big fish meals and the predators would definitely be in search of easy pickings, able to hide in the wash themselves. So the first day of an abating sea, is just as attractive to the rock fisher as it is to the fish. The route to the cliffs took us past Bondi Beach which would give us our first view of the ocean, however, looking at the sea from Bondi was never really a good indicator of what the swell on the rocks would be like unless the ocean was dead flat. Going past Bondi though, had become part of the "ritual" for all of the crew, as we all lived from Sydney's inner-west to the western suburbs and all were as eager as always to go for a fish. Sighting the ocean always raised excitement and expectation. On arriving at the cliff top park and walking over to the "view" spot, near Liverpool St, we observed there was still a fair sized swell coming over the rocks. Might be too hard to fish towards high tide in the night, however as we were going down for the afternoon and night and not returning until midday the next day, we had a chat at the view spot and decided we could always go down and fish "high", on a small perch above the water known as Magpie, if it got too hairy on the lower platforms. Besides, three more of the guys were going to come down and join Ross, Bob and I, somewhere around midnight. So down we went. Uneventful climb down, but arriving at the bottom of the cliff, closer to sea level, it was evident that the sea was a little bigger than as observed from above. Looked like only high level fishing, at least until the westerly arrived, with it's flattening capabilities. So off on the 800 odd meter scramble to the southernmost end of the area, where we'd base ourselves in our cave, which was both well back and high enough up from the sea to provide a safe camp. After initially having a fish off the only lower level spot that was fish-able, due to the swell, we decided to go up high instead. So up to "Magpie" we went. Fishers from different clubs have different names for Magpie, such as "Scarecrow", "Dropsy" or "High Rock", but as our mentor and initial guide to the area- Wally McLuckie had fished the location for nearly 60 years and he called it "Magpie", then Magpie it was. Magpie is a small perch of a spot that consisted of about a fifteen by six foot bit of ledge, carved by wind out of one of the natural cliff-side archways, sitting about fifty feet above the water and also some twenty feet out over the sea above the cliff wall. You could fish straight down below you or flick a cast out, the spot is only about six foot wide from cliff wall to the edge with a ceiling about seven or eight feet above, so not much room to cast "side-swipe" style with long rods. Fish up to about 4-5 lb would be winched up, anything larger needed to be either cliff-gaffed with a purpose-made gaff on a rope or more commonly, walked about thirty yards back to the north and then washed up on a lower ledge, but this was a difficult maneuver, so winching up the common method for smaller fish. To get to Magpie, first you had to climb about eight or so feet on a swinging rope that was dangling from the next level of ledges above our camp cave. It's a thick rope about an inch and a half in diameter, with two large knots tied in it, one about three feet above the ground and the next about two feet above the first. You put a foot each side of the knots and squeezed each side, using the knots as steps, then reached up and took hold of the three steel pegs the rope is hung from and pulled yourself up. Then a short scramble over some fallen ledge and follow a natural archway that had been eroded by wind out of the side of the cliff face. The "dodgy" part was where the ledge became so narrow, about halfway along, you had to face the wall and lean in as you inched along, with the footing becoming as narrow as about seven or eight inches and you couldn't see your feet while crabbing along sideways. About a fifty foot drop at your back. At the narrowest part as you moved along, there was an old iron peg about thumb-thick, that was cemented into a chiselled hole and it stuck up about three or four inches. You took hold with your left hand and shuffled along carefully, making sure you didn't bump either your head above, or your shins below on an any of the uneven bits sticking out from the sandstone wall, then swap the left hand for your right and another old peg matching the first was about four feet further along. Same again, shuffle and swap to the right hand and the path widened slightly to about two feet across and you naturally lean in cliff-side as you turn and face forward, left hand side to the drop as you to move the last few yards towards the perch. The danger along here is there are multiple protrusions of sandstone jutting out from the wall, many chest to head high, so careful along this bit and then you're on the spot. Great spot for Tailor, Bream and particularly Snapper and exciting spot to watch a bobby cork with a whole Garfish suspended on a set of ganged hooks. A favoured rig off here was a large running cork, sinker, swivel, 18 inch leader, a set of four 5/0 ganged hooks with a Garfish bait and a single 4/0 hook attached to the bottom ganged hook with an eight inch piece of either wire or 20 lb line. Amazing how many big Bream would take the piece of bait on the single hook suspended below the full Garfish. Also accounted for plenty of Tailor if you used the wire option when they were around in numbers and enabled catching a second fish on the one rig. On this trip, due to our prior knowledge of a fair sized swell running, we had actually taken a small metho stove, tinned soup and tea, as we would be possibly sitting in the cave for much of the night and Bob, who had only been down a few times, took a sleeping bag- a luxury item to carry down the cliffs. Most trips, it was sandwiches, a pack of biscuits and the old favourite space food sticks, if we had hot food, it was fish caught on the trip and cooked on a hot plate permanently cemented on four steel beer cans wedged up against a boulder the size of a shipping container, but fish eating was usually done some time after sun-up. We actually had a great rule for eating fish- whoever caught the second fish for the morning had to be the cook if we were going to eat any. I still love a fresh Tailor, bled, filleted and cooked on the hotplate- Blackfish were cooked whole. Bigger fish were taken home as "evidence" was needed in some households! After having a fish on Magpie for a couple of hours, we decided to go back down to the cave for a feed, so we left our rods and tackle up on the ledge and just took the fish and the bait back down with us. You couldn't leave anything edible alone on the dry rocks, even these tiny ledges on the cliff wall would have rats sneaking around looking for food only minutes after you left. So back to the cave for a feed of hot soup and a sandwich. We used to leave a torch on in the cave, thinking it would deter the rats, but over time, realised it probably just aided them in their food quest rather than put them off. Before we went back up to Magpie for our second fishing session, Bob dropped his torch and busted it, no amount of mucking around with it got it going again, so we salvaged the globe and the batteries. This left us with only two torches and as we wanted to leave one going in the cave while we were gone (we hadn't worked out at this stage it wasn't putting the rats off) we decided to just take one up to Magpie. So up the rope and off to the path again. This time, as Bob was the least experienced, we let him have the torch and we worked our way out to where the path narrowed and the hand-hold pegs were. Ross edged across first with Bob shining the light for Ross from behind, then Bob edged along and when he was across to the wider bit, he turned and shone the light for me. I inched along, got past the two pegs and turned to face the spot, made it about four feet and then Bob turned the opposite way with the light! Instantly disorientated, I yelled for some light, but as Bob turned back around, he inadvertently shone the light straight at me and in my eyes- it wasn't a deliberate act, just reactionary, but it blinded me and I lost balance. Knowing the edge was on my left, I instinctively dived inwards to the right, but there was a sandstone protrusion about chest high and my head collided with it. I remember hitting it in the darkness and falling in towards the cliff. What happened next was almost the end of me- unconscious from the collision, I slumped down and then rolled sideways, I'd turned around 180 degrees and ended up with my right leg hanging over the 50 foot drop. Out cold for a few minutes, I woke to find Bob holding the drop side of my jumper and saying "don't move man"- I was too groggy to move, and realised my leg was hanging over the edge, but was unsure of where to move it for fear of going over the drop and into the big sea below. I think my wool jumper got caught on the sandstone and it was the only reason my momentum stopped, otherwise over the edge and into the swell smashing into the wall down below. I was too disorientated to do anything and the boys couldn't move me- it was just too precarious. I remember putting my head back down and then woke again a few minutes later as Ross was trying to climb past me- no mean feet considering the narrowness of the spot; he managed somehow and was back a few minutes later with the pulley rope, which we sometimes took off the pulley and carried down to the fishing area for a safety line in case someone got washed in. Still shaky, I put my head back down and woke up some time later to find my left leg tied to something in one direction and my left wrist tied to something in the opposite direction. Ross had used the pulley rope and tied the rope to me and the cliff sort of longways in one direction so I wouldn't roll over the edge, he and Bob were sitting holding the rope in the other direction. It was all they could do until I was conscious enough to move by myself, as there just wasn't any room to move or anything stable to grab hold of. Probably around half an hour or so passed before I regained full consciousness and I had a shocking headache, I felt really thirsty and dry and for some strange reason the idea of dropping over the edge and down into the water came to mind- which of course was absolute lunacy on my part, however that was my thought at the time. Awake now and feeling both hot and cold at the same time, I just wanted to get away from the edge and have a drink of water, but as I had the shakes really badly, agreed to stay put while we worked out a plan to get me along the narrow part and back to the safety of the wider ledges above the cave. Ross made the decision to re-tie the rope around my chest and then he and Bob could get up against the cliff wall either side of me and guide me/pull me in towards the cliff if I became unstable on my feet. This worked out OK and they guided me past the narrows and pegs and along to where the ledge widened right out. Only then could we all get together and they got me to the short rope without saying too much. Bob got down first and I followed, but didn't make the proper move over the top knot in the rope and I knackered myself on it- lucky the rope is free-dangling! Down the rope and I was at the cave, with it's perfect seat-height flat ledge, Ross down a few seconds behind me. When I sat down on the flat sandstone, the boys came over with both torches and started checking out my head. I hadn't realised this whole time, that I'd bled pretty badly from the top of my head and the blood had flown from my forehead through my hair and down the back of my head and neck, it had stopped bleeding by itself and congealed blood had dried and matted my hair. As it had stopped bleeding, the boys decided to leave it alone and then we all started talking about what had just happened. Both Ross and Bob said that it almost happened in slow motion, both said the sound of the thud of head and wall was really loud, followed by the fall and roll, if my jumper hadn't got caught I would have been over the edge and into the water below the spot. As I was unconscious, no doubt I would have either drowned immediately or been smashed against the cliff wall by the big swell. In either case, I would have been killed if I'd gone over- man was I lucky I wore that particular jumper that trip- the usual sloppy-Joe probably wouldn't have caught like the wool did. Even if I had regained consciousness, with the big swell, I wouldn't have been able to get out if I did manage to swim in and if I did make it to the ledge, undoubtedly would have been swept back off anyway. The tiny first-aid kit I carried permanently in my backpack, consisted of some Savlon antiseptic cream, tweezers, some Styp-wool to assist stopping of bleeding, a few cloth band-aids and one crepe bandage. It was the only time a crepe bandage ever got used for an injury in over 22 years of rock fishing, they came in handy for various purposes, from makeshift belts to shoelaces and backpack 'repair' cords, but it was the only time anyone needed one on an injury and boy I was glad it was a permanent addition to the tiny kit. Add a handful of Panadol tablets and that was it- not much I know, but handy on plenty of occasions. They Savloned and bandaged up the wound, stuck-hair and all, then put me in Bob's sleeping bag, but we knew not to let me fall asleep, with concussion in mind, so we just made some more tea and I sat up in the sleeping bag. All thoughts of fishing were gone for the night, until we spotted lights coming down the side of the cliff in the far distance, it was the other three mates coming down to meet us. By this time it was well after midnight. It took Wayne, Ben and Frank nearly an hour to come around the bottom level instead of the usual fifteen to twenty minutes, as they had to scout right around the back of the bay of boulders between us and the climb, due to the swell reaching right up into areas water didn't generally get to. It was nearing high tide and it was a big tide that night. By the time they got to us, they knew we'd probably all be in the cave, as there's only a limited appeal to fishing "high" and we only ever went up for a few hours each session before retiring back to the cave's 'comfort'. On seeing me bandaged and hearing the tale, nobody was real keen to go back up to Magpie that night and we sat around in the cave from then until dawn, sipping tea and eating all the food we had with us. The sea meanwhile, had started to succumb to the effects of the big westerly wind, which according to the three later arrivals was absolutely howling up top- of course it was totally wind-less under the cliffs, and being a completely cloud-less night, there was no way we could tell if the predicted wind had arrived. As light approached and the tide was getting closer to low, Frank decided he wanted to go and have a few throws off the front of the 'lake', which hadn't had any water even splash over it from when we could first watch it in the pre-dawn light, a far cry from only about four hours earlier. The westerly was absolutely howling and blowing in the opposite direction to where the swell had come from, flattening the sea in the process. So over he went while we all watched from the cave. Well, after rapidly catching three fish in three casts, it didn't take long for the lot of us to put our rock plates on and race over to join him. Over the next hour and a half we pulled over eighty fish between the six of us. Bream,Trevally and small Reds came out one after another and we had enough fish for a couple of feeds each. Around 7.45 am the guys decided we should get going, as they still had to help me up the cliff, so we cleaned the fish and packed for the return journey. We were able to take one of the lower routes on the way back, which suited me, as my head started 'thumping' again while scrambling around the rocks and I was dreading having to do the rope climb. There's no other way up other than the ropes, so they put the 'safety rope' around me, tying it under my arms with a bowline knot and two guys manned the safety rope, half hauling me as I climbed the big wall. By the time I got off the ropes a few minutes later, my head was really pounding and by the time I finally got over the cliff-side fence at the top, I was feeling pretty lousy. Sitting in a car never felt so good. When they dropped me at home around 10.45 am, there was a note to say the family had gone out with the relatives and they'd be home late, so I put the fish in the fridge and went into the bathroom to remove the bandage. I had to soak the bandage to get it off, but the dried blood with hair matting stayed solid. I only lived about 600 yards from the old Western Suburbs Hospital, so I thought I should go and see a Doctor up there. After waiting about four hours in the old casualty waiting room, I got tired of waiting and walked back home. Got home and my Mum rang to let me know she and my brother were going to stay the night with the relatives, so I thought I'd wait until she was home to talk about the accident. Then I went to sleep for over twelve hours, waking the next day with the same shocking headache as I had down the cliff. All the Panadol had worn off and I felt really lousy again, so I walked back up to the hospital for the second time. The reception nurse recognised me from the day before- probably due to my bloody, matted hair and grubby appearance- I hadn't even had a shower as I felt so drained- she insisted I come straight in to see a Doctor and he gave me several needles on the top of my skull and then used a scalpel to cut all the hair and dried blood away, before saying "where are your x-rays?" I replied I hadn't had any done, so off to x-ray. The scans revealed a hairline skull fracture and the Doctor decided I had "delayed concussion", so after giving me another half dozen needles and 8 stitches to the cut head, he made me stay for a few hours and I finally got home in the afternoon, completely exhausted. I continued fishing the area for years after that trip, but if the sea ever got rough enough to drive others up to Magpie, well, I went home. I'm SOOOO lucky to have survived that night, and it reinforces some of the hidden dangers of rock fishing.
  3. Hi Ganguddy Goodoo believe it or not I actually have a fear of heights, but the fishy rewards of doing the cliffs were just so great that I had to go, regardless of fear. Take away the fish and I wouldn't do it in a pink fit! From my perspective, when climbing the same areas continually, you genuinely get to know every single toe-hold, as indicated by climbing the cliffs in pitch darkness without even a headlight to help. I'd been climbing for years before I got a headlight and in those days, they were large and cumbersome my first one was powered by 4 x "D" cells which were worn in a belt-clipped power pack with a cord going under your shirt to the light. Stopped using it as it was just something else you could bump or get caught on. Nothing much changes about the climb, anywhere where there are signs of erosion, a little maintenance- usually only a few minutes of "work" and it's "safe" again. It just wasn't practical to carry in climbing ropes and they remained on the cliff year round, you learn to climb with TWO ropes in each hand, giving good grip and the added safety of the extra rope in case of any possible rope failure. We replaced the ropes as necessary, as soon as there were any signs of wear or they swelled too much from water saturation. One of the most amazing (to me) things I ever witnessed was two guys who came to the Mattens with a fellow club member - Neil J- and proceeded to climb the vertical wall above the actual main fishing area (we climbed down about 800 metres north) these guys were specialist climbers and they started their ascent just after dawn and were still only 3/4 of the way up the vertical wall by the time we left about 3 pm. No real safety gear for the lead climber and only the sandstone cracks to use as "grips" - I still marvel that anyone would go up the way they did.
  4. Hi Noel there's still plenty of cheaper tackle boxes that aren't worm proof and "blobs" still happen!
  5. Hi Pete I started using "Vibrotails" but in those days, Sydney Harbour was absolutely teeming with chopper Tailor and you could do a tail a cast- mostly without getting a hookup. Became too expensive for minimal results. Mr Twisters in curl tail hopped along the bottom lasted a little longer!
  6. Thanks GF ! We fishermen are a competitive lot, even in fun it's nice to win bragging rights for the day. John to his credit simply basked in the glory. I doubt I've ever been under as much pressure to catch a fish as that day
  7. High Zoran the barber really did retire! In all seriousness, it is a great lure for Flathead when fishing shallow water. Glad you enjoyed it- John still has the lure, it's been retired to his mantelpiece!
  8. Hi Burger yes indeed, but we probably went a bit overboard with the Husky Jerk! Revenge was John's though and what a way to get it
  9. What a great story! Fantastic! Thanks for sharing it, love to hear of captures from outside Australia. Congratulations on record fish and great pictures as well.
  10. One of my best mates started fishing later in life than most of the rest of the guys. Nearly all the boys were pretty keen from an early age, however, John, although interested, had always found other ways to spend his time and barring a couple of "family" fishing days, had little experience. One of the aspects of fishing that appealed to him, was the idea of obtaining one's own food from a free bait source- such as using cabbage for Blackfish, cunjevoi for Drummer, crabs for Bream and live bait such as Yellowtail to chase larger fish- of course you needed something to catch the Yellowtail on first, but as they were readily obtainable on a variety of baits, they fitted into the criteria of the experience. So where to take him? As John lived at North Bondi, it would be logical to go rock fishing. Hard to beat going down the cliffs only a km further north and make it a long trip, so we could try a variety of methods. With this in mind, we planned a three day trip, climbing down on a Friday morning and staying until the Sunday afternoon.The trip went pretty well, we caught a variety of fish and John decided fishing was indeed a good pastime. A few years later, he married and moved up north, from Sydney to Murwillumbah and with a new family, fishing of course took a backseat. As time went by, fishing came back to the fore. I made a couple of trips up to see him each year and we mainly went spinning for Flathead with lighter tackle and hard body lures, before broadening our species range by going both Bass fishing- mainly around Clarrie Hall dam and the upper Tweed River- and also beach fishing on one of the many great fishing beaches the far north coast has to offer. Flathead spinning remained pretty much the "go-to" choice though, as there are countless productive areas and you could get a few somewhere, pretty much any time of the day, regardless of the tide or conditions, if you put in a bit of time chasing them. At holiday's end each time, we would have done at least a few "trifecta days"- when we'd go Bass fishing on dawn, then Flathead spinning during the day, followed by a late afternoon session on the beach. Later this changed to a "quaddie day" after we discovered Mangrove Jack and added the red devils to the agenda. Other than the Flathead, most of the fishing centred around bait fishing. Live Shrimp for Bass, Pippies, Worms or Nippers for the beach and live Mullet or Snub Nosed Gar for the Jacks. Tailor fishing from the beach with Garfish was about the only form of fishing we wouldn't use some form of live bait for. Flathead remained the sole lure only target and as we mainly used hard body lures, were always trying out different types of mainly "minnow' patterns. Deep divers, Shallow runners, jointed styles, suspending types, slow rollers, soft tails, stick baits- we tried heaps before narrowing the selection down to a few "reliable" favourites. Murwillumbah doesn't have a specialty fishing tackle shop, although a few of the shops do sell a small range of tackle, only the old barber shop had a few different, quality items, including a small range of lures, many of which were pretty old. While having his hair cut, John would often talk about fishing with the barber and of course the subject of catching Flathead on lures came up. After talking to the barber- who was an old fisherman himself, and checking out some of the ancient lures on the wall, the barber suggested that his "go-to" lure for Flathead was a Rapala Husky Jerk minnow and it just so happened that he had only one left. Hard to get he said. The gold one on the wall also just so happened to be the "best" colour for Flathead he said, and pretty much gauranteed some good fish in the nearby Tweed River he said, so John took the advice and bought the old lure. Wasn't cheap, but the barber insisted it was a good investment. It was about 6 inches long, gold sides, white belly strip and a black line along the top. A shallow runner with the short, clear plastic bib. Dived about 3 or 4 feet. Over the next couple of years, every time we went out Flathead spinning, usually within the first half hour or so, John would try the Husky Jerk, but sadly, not one Flathead succumbed to it's charm. He caught his share of fish, just not on the old lure, always on something else and it started to become a bit of a ritual. Arrive at location, tie on the Jerk and give it a go until one of the group caught a Flathead on something else, then he'd change to one of the other favourite "proven" lures and usually get himself a few fish. Just not on the Jerk. We started fishing with two other good mates-Wayne and his son Matt- and after a couple of trips, they suggested that maybe we should try trolling for Flathead in Mooball Creek, which empties into the sea, through a tiny breakwall on Pottsville Beach- which is about 20 odd miles south of the Queensland border. The creek itself is barely 100 yards wide and mostly less than about 10 feet deep and meanders for a few miles parallel to the long Wooyung Beach. The first few times we fished there, we caught heaps of Flathead. We'd just troll along in the nice clear water over a very sandy bottom, until we got a fish, then cut the motor and all switch to casting the lures instead. Whenever we got a couple more fish fairly quickly, we'd stay for about 15 or so minutes, otherwise it would be about 6 or 7 casts each, then resume trolling. Over time, we learned to try and find the poddy Mullet schools, which could be anywhere along the length of the creek, the Flathead schools were almost always close by and once found, we'd stay and catch enough for a few feeds. John of course persisted with the Jerk each trip- it looked great in the water, but didn't dive deep enough for trolling, however, as the Flathead were usually lurking near the Mullet- which were usually in shallower water anyway, he would continue with the Jerk for the casting part anyway. Besides, he was convinced it was going to get fish. As time went by (a couple of years actually) we started teasing him with all sorts of banter about the lure, often making up stories about what we'd seen or heard in relation to the Husky Jerk, like "just heard downtown that the word was out, someone had finally bought the old lure the barber had- they're going to have a street parade to celebrate" or "heard the barber could finally retire happy, got rid of the lure" or "see the local paper? on the cover the headline says 'Jerk buys Jerk'" or "hear about the barber?- found another one of those lures and sold it to a city slicker, told him they're great for Blackfish"- this sort of rubbish talk always went on, with poor John on the end of what became more and more elaborate stories about the Husky Jerk. Still he persisted with it, seemingly immune to all the joking at his expense. Then we went on a trip to Wooli, staying in a nice holiday house right on the beach. Wayne, Matt and their family and another two groups of friends came also and hired caravans in the van park just across from where we were. It was the first week of the Sydney Olympic Games and Wooli seemed pretty much deserted- It's primarily a holiday town, pretty small and "sleepy" with really nice beaches and an estuary that runs along parallel to the beach. Great fishing spot. Looked extra good for Flathead spinning, with a couple of miles of sandbanks spilling into a deeper channel, with plenty of weed patches fringing the sand. Wasn't long before John, Wayne and I were off wading and casting these banks, a box of lures carried in one of those beach shoulder bags each and one of those short handled landing nets that trout fishers hang from their belt. Looked promising and we waded out about thigh deep and started casting the most likely looking spot. No fish at the first spot, however John spotted some bait fish showering a little further away and we quietly moved through the water until close enough to cast at a nice sand patch with some weed on the deeper channel side. We stood in a line, probably about 10 yards apart, with John in the centre, flanked by Wayne and I. Outfits were just 6 ft light spinning rods fitted with 1000 size spin reels and we all used 6 lb mono with 10 lb leaders. We had about 20 or 30 lures each, comprising mainly of the ones we regularly had success with. John as usual, tied on the Husky Jerk. The method was pretty much standard Flathead fare- cast, give the rod enough of a sweep to pull the lure down so it touched the bottom and work it slowly back- everyone has their own retrieve style. Work the immediate area with half a dozen or so casts, then all move slowly about 10 or 15 yards down the bank and repeat. Often moving down like this, when you find a concentration of bait, there'll be a school of Flathead very close by, sometimes just a few fish, sometimes a lot- particularly in springtime spawning aggregations when big numbers of smaller males mass around the big females. After moving a couple of times, we found ourselves standing just upstream of a small weed bank that lay in about 4 feet of water, with small sand patches all around it. The telltale flashes of poddy Mullet on the shallower land side were what we'd been looking for and we all nodded to each other and cast. John hooked up! The Husky Jerk had finally fooled a fish! The grin covered his entire face! Wayne and I of course ribbed him and said it was probably a Toad or maybe he'd jagged a Mullet, anything other than a Flathead until it was safely in the net. John was jubilant and the curse of the Jerk had finally been broken! Wayne and I continued casting while John unhooked his fish and transferred it from the little net to his wading bag. He cast the Jerk again and hooked up almost immediately. This time he was a bit more cocky as he played the fish and soon Flattie number two joined it's mate in the wading bag. Wayne and I kept casting. With fish number two safely in the wading bag, out goes the Husky Jerk again, a few winds and bang! John is on again. This time, as he plays the fish, he starts to return fire some of the old "Jerk" banter- touche! Fish number three secured and out goes the Jerk again, to be taken almost straight away! John is in his element, laughing and joking, playing the fish so casually, enjoying the moment. Neither Wayne nor I could believe it- as not a strike between us and all casting the same small patch. Better change lures. Lures changed, more casts, still nothing. John meanwhile has finally got the Jerk out of the latest fish, which had really engulfed it and took some unhooking with one hand while in the net. Fish number four safe in the bag, not a word from him this time, just a cartoon-sized grin as the Jerk sailed from the rod towards the sand patch, stopping short of his usually distance due to the line being a bit "buried" from the pressure of the last hook-up. Once again, a couple of turns of the handle and bang! On again, even with the "false cast" not landing that far away from us. Flathead number five soon joins it's clan in the bag. "This bag's getting a bit heavy now" says cheeky John. No reply from Wayne or I, who were onto about our third or fourth lure change, still with no result. "Maybe you should let me choose a lure each for you guys" then "you'd better have a close look at my lure, could be the way I tie them on" etc etc. Two more Flathead making seven in seven casts and it had become ridiculous. Wayne and I had made about 10 lure changes by this stage, still without a strike between us. John decided to observe instead of cast, "giving you guys a chance to get one" his mantra. Wayne finally got one and the pressure was then on me. John decided to show me how he did it (I said I wasn't interested in watching, but secretly looked!) and he cast again, this time hooking a fish that really took off and had his drag singing. He played it for a few minutes and on getting it close, realised there was no way it was going to fit in the little net, so made the decision to walk it in to shore- probably about 100 yards or more from our watery position. Wayne being the good bloke that he is, said he'd help John with the big fish and they started the slow walk in. Great, surely I'm going to get one now. About 20 more casts and finally I hook up. About the same size as all the others John has landed- around a pound and a half. The net is with the boys inshore and even though it's not a big fish, I decide to walk it into shore as well- can't risk losing it and ending up with a donut! Wayne walks part of the way out and nets my fish and as we've got enough, we trudge back to the caravan park where all our companions are sitting having afternoon tea. John is triumphant! Not only did he finally break the "hoodoo" of the lure, but in fact caught eight Flathead in eight casts. The "legend" of the Husky Jerk was born
  11. Great article Derek! Excellent information for anyone who wants to chase squid and cuttlefish. Thanks for doing such a great job, you covered everything. Just need some crumbs and hot oil now