wazatherfisherman

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Everything posted by wazatherfisherman

  1. Well done Andrew! Nice fish!
  2. Hi Rob good to hear! They are a great fish to chase through winter as they are one species that doesn't shut down. Best time for large fish in Sydney metro area is October, when they are in spawning aggregations and feed aggressively during this time. It's quite common to burley up a school of large ones during October, however, landing them is the challenge! Fish over 4 kg are probably the dirtiest fighters of all rock species and require luck as well as skill and good tackle to be a "land-able" proposition. Small fish (under 2 kg) from deep water locations are certainly realistic on lighter tackle though. Some good locations around Sydney are South Whale Beach ledges, "Donkey's" around the front of Julianne at Little Bay and the "Tablet" a small rocky islet at the southern platform of Burning Palms Beach, but can be found around most ledges along the coast that have good cabbage growth and/or cunje beds. They are also present in the harbour and in years past have caught them as far up as Cremorne when chasing Luderick, although they are generally under a kg and have a "kelpy" smell and taste, even after bleeding. Dobroyd Head and Middle Head have some better sized ones, but I consider those two areas more as "ocean" fishing, due to being affected by swell and wave action. The simple Sydney rock fisho's rig of a pea sized ball sinker running between a swivel and a 2/0 suicide (Octopus or Big Red pattern) is the best method for "dropping" a bait down walls, or the alternative for both snaggy areas, shallow water and avoiding pickers, is an egg sized running bobby cork with appropriate sized ball sinker to weight the cork/bait down, then a swivel and followed by 45-60 cm of leader, then hook. When fishing rough terrain make sure the leader is slightly less than main line, so in case of snags, only the hook is lost. Bites on the cork rig are usually quite violent downs and on the dropping rig, the bite is pretty much the same as larger Bream. Personally, I only give the fish about a meter and a half of line on the bite before striking, as they get a head of steam up quickly and it is imperative they are stopped before reaching the bottom or they'll find either an obstacle to cut your line on or a crevice to wedge in. In plenty of fishing advice books/columns authors have stated if you get wedged by a fish, to simply slacken off and wait- I don't agree with this advice as I have tried it plenty of times on light tackle and the fish don't come out, even after waiting about 10 minutes. A better approach in my view is to pull hard and on rare occasions the fish comes out, although mostly, your line will break. Better off re-rigging and trying again, your line is usually damaged anyway if you get crevice or cracked. Eating quality is high if bled and filleted/skinned. Best of luck when you go.
  3. Hi AVR and welcome. I used to fish the eastern suburbs rocks for Pigs and caught them up to 6.5 kg with average fish over 3 kg. As said above, Ab gut was excellent bait, but banned due to the Ganglioneuritis virus which is highly infectious and survives being frozen/processed, enabling transmission of the disease to healthy populations of Abalone. I don't think it affects humans, but is banned to preserve existing Abalone stocks from becoming contaminated. Next best bait for large fish is a whole unbroken cunje interior as large as you can get. To retrieve the interior so it stays intact, push your knife straight down on the side from the top of the pod and cut around the entire pod. Gently twist the top as you lift and once in hand, slip your thumb under the meat to prise it away from the "lid". You need to do this on each side as the anchor points under the lid are like two teats- once they have been released from the lid you should have an unbroken sack with the two teats (or nipples). By not breaking the sack you don't disturb the "guts" of the cunje- which is the delicate red part and the yellow- this helps in minimising pickers and whole pods attract the opportunist large fish who will "muscle" their way to the bait before the pests. If there are heaps of pickers, small whole red crabs are next best, just remove a rear leg and insert hook through the socket and out through the crabs belly. Small red crabs can be obtained by attaching a pink plastic octopus skirt- the ones used for trolling- on a piece of strong wire about 4-5 ft long and twirling it through waterline crevices. Use a larger skirt -say 6 to 8 inch length and the crabs will run out of the cracks and can be grabbed by hand. This is a better method than how I was shown originally, which was to plunge both arms down a crevice, with hands about 2 feet apart and slowly bring your hands together. The biting type crabs- "scuttley's, sowrie's and reef crabs" all run from your hands, while the red crabs stay put and hang on. When "feeling" for crabs, when you get both hands together you only have the non biter's. Both eels and octopus are not present in the cracks where there are numbers of crabs, just beware if you can't see any crabs as they might have exited due to threat of either of these, but safer and easy to use the plastic octopus "frightener" When using cabbage, try to find some "streamer" cabbage, which usually grows out of the red-brown short growth on the lowest ledges, mainly where there is water run-off. It is long and thin, commonly about a half inch wide by 8-12 inches long. A large bunch of these streamers is an attractive bait for bigger fish, but a single long streamer sent out as a Luderick bait is often taken. Personally, have done far better with this type of cabbage as opposed to the usual "flowering" broad leaf type or Black cabbage (which is olive green, has many perforations and grows individually, submerged in pools) As for where to cast in the wash, look for run-off points of the ledge, which continually return water from the platform, as this is the natural place fish are looking for food. Most of our Pig fishing was actually straight down deep edges of over 25-30 ft, the big fish sit along these walls looking for stuff coming over. If using cabbage however, bobby cork your cabbage between 3-6 ft if fishing the wash in close, as it takes cabbage a while to sink naturally and fish searching wash areas for cabbage are used to taking it closer to the surface. We had a spot called "Pig Rock" at the Mattens at Dover Heights, where both a really huge pool flowed off next to it and there was a massive cunje bed only yards away. Although around 30-35 ft deep, the big Pigs were usually only about 12-15 feet under the surface as that was the level the natural run-off food would have sunk to at the location. They would wolf the bait down as it sank down along the wall below where we stood. The gun burley for big Black Drummer is chicken layer pellets. They need to be completely soaked until they break down, if not completely broken down, the fish will ignore your bait and gorge on the pellets.They are right to use when they have broken down into a mud-like consistency, they get the fish into a good feeding pattern and they beat the rubbish fish and Bream, Tarwhine etc to the bait 90% of the time. If bobby cork fishing the wash zones and you are having problems with Kelpfish etc , come up about 18 inches in depth and use large baits. Bread works well if pickers are around and Kelpies aren't that interested in it either. We used to bobby cork for them at places like Burning Palms in the Royal National Park and do well on the smaller ones using cunje set about 10 ft under a cork and cast to the shore side of rock outcrops. There is a spot there known as the "Tablet" which produces a lot of smaller Pigs on dead flat sea days and it was easy to get them there on 12 lb line. When collecting cunje via the "whole-pod" method, it's wise to only take one cunje from each cluster, so as the rest aren't disturbed and of course check regulations re bait collecting. When pussy-footing use a small piece of lead just to keep you in contact with the bait unless fishing in under 3 ft of water, you'll kmow when ones taken it! Hope this information is useful. Any other questions feel free to ask. They are my second favourite fish to fight (after Kingfish) and are great to eat. As for line size for the eastern suburbs, we used 18 lb Tortue for them and lost 50% of the ones we hooked, go up to 23 lb and you get more than 50% less bites. If chasing the 2-4lb models you get a lot more bites on 12-14 lb , but you'll lose the odd one and most of any real big ones Regards Waza
  4. Hi Pete knowing exactly where those crevices are at Moe's you've got my sympathy! Running and jumping them from the tip of Moe's was always race against that blasted wave break. Wouldn't want to go in the horseshoe where they empty either. Those barnacles are so damaging on skin. Been in twice fishing and twice while just walking/swimming, it's no fun, especially in remote places. Safety gear so sensible to wear and take. Like you, I reckon I was in some sort of shock
  5. Hi Noelm those volcano barnacles are shocking to have a ride over. One of the old Mattens crew- Frank- had a ride over them on his backside wearing only speedo's, he got some shocking injuries that bled for a couple of hours. Still had to climb the cliff to get home though.
  6. Hi Yowie it's amazing when those giant boulders are just "gone". The big one at the Mattens was as big as a shipping container and 40+ yards from the water, nobody could believe it was gone, especially from where it was sitting
  7. When you're young, you do things that are often foolhardy, even downright dangerous. When I was 17, I used to get Wednesday's off work and usually go fishing, either to White Rock near Bradleys Head in the Harbour, or often to the Mattens at Dover Heights. Both locations during the week you'd usually have the spot to yourself, which can be OK for the Harbour, but rock fishing alone is far too risky. Anything can happen, other than the obvious dangers of climbing cliffs, negotiating tracks and the ever present swell, something as simple as turning an ankle can leave you in a helpless position, with nobody to either render assistance or raise any alarm in case of a more serious predicament or immobility. So trips to somewhere like the Mattens were always with companions. Nevertheless, when young, like they say- "you're 10 feet tall and bullet-proof"- which is great confidence-wise, but not necessarily always a good thing in regards to safety. The plan had been to travel to mentor Wally's place at North Bondi and go down the cliff and just spend the day chasing Blackfish, however, Wally couldn't go at the last minute due to his wife becoming ill and he rang me just as I was about to walk down to Croydon railway station to get the train to Central. Bugger- what to do now? Gear and lunch packed- go to the Harbour? No weed or cabbage though and although quality cabbage grows on the sides of the zoo wharf, you need someone to hold your legs while you stretch over then under the wharf to reach it. Maybe I could still go to the Mattens? If the sea is as predicted- "slight seas on a low swell" and I stick to the safer spots, should be OK. So off to get the train to Central, then the bus from Eddy Avenue to Dover Heights. On arrival at the cliff top park, first thing all the fishermen do is walk slightly south of the spot you get over the fence, so you can view the conditions far below. A quick look revealed a really flat ocean, however it's an unwritten rule of rock fishing to have a long look at the sea, as sometimes there might be a swell that's quite far apart, even though it looks flat, it can still be too dangerous for fishing. About fifteen minutes is the "accepted" time for viewing the sea, barring rogue waves, you get a pretty good idea of any pattern provided by watching the sea-to-land water movement. Looked pretty flat, maybe too flat in fact. No wash means no food going in naturally, so fish are naturally more cautious and obviously unable to gorge themselves, like Blackfish often do when feeding. Sea observed, decision made, down I go, being more careful than usual. Safe at the bottom of the climb, gear untied from pulley and rope tied off to a sandstone protrusion. About half an hour from getting over the fence at the top and I'm at the spot. No water coming over anywhere, bar the end of "Bombie" ledge, which is only fish-able on the lower part of the tide and then only during flat seas as it's only just above waterline. The whole location is a Blackfisher's paradise, offering up almost every kind of fishing scenario, from a tidal "lake" where you could fish either 6-7 ft deep in the main body of water, or about a foot deep in the shallow end- the most exciting form of Blackfish fishing, to various deep water washes, soupy white water fishing, cunje beds and shallower boulder bottomed drifts. Unusual "straight-edge" fishing for them is also on offer on really flat days, in another spot there, cunje is used instead of green growth and when you can fish there, action is also really fast. So gear rigged, fixed float set about 11 and a half feet deep- about 6 inches short of the rod's length, 6 and a half pound Tortue mono on the Golden Eagle centerpin greased the night before with Vaseline to keep it floating. Fingers given a good wash to make sure no Vaseline taints the bait. Shoes swapped for rock plates. Keep-net unrolled. Film container with a few spare hooks and an extra couple of bits of sheet-lead in the pocket. Now which spot to try first. As there was hardly any swell at all, there wasn't much in the way of wash and if there's no wash going in, then the fish are either really scattered or more likely in an area where at least a little water is moving back off the platforms, bringing in a little food, or at least the chance of some. On days such as this one, with clear water- due to little turbulence, you might take a while to bring them in with burley, as it doesn't disperse with minimal current, often trying a few of the spots before you locate larger numbers of fish, then "activating" them into feeding mode. After trying three spots and only catching a couple of fish, I decided to go down onto "Greeny", a long low platform straight out in front of the cave, that we used for a base when staying overnight. There is a large pool all over the back of the platform, which flows off to the most southern extremity of the Mattens, emptying in a permanent wash. Normally, there are really large fish off Greeny, but due to it being low, it's only safe to fish the lower section of the tide. In years to come, it became our number one spot for big Bream and where most of the guys caught their biggest Snapper, often while Tailor fishing in the dark. This day however, the Blackfish weren't there and a few drifts and a heap of burley kicked in provided only a couple of "Cocky's"- Rock Cale- a species treated with contempt by most ocean Blackie fishers. After having a look at the nice, soupy looking wash at the extreme end of Greeny- the area's only "permanent" wash, I decided that as the tide went down a bit more and no water at all had come anywhere near coming onto the ledge, that it would be OK to try there next. This spot was called "Bombie", as about 30 yards out from the end of the platform, there is a huge rock under the water that comes up to within about 8 or 9 feet from the surface and it displaces inward moving swell, throwing small curling waves and "lumps" of water in different directions. There are always fish hanging around this spot, as there are a couple of swirling eddy's, keeping any food washed in in a small area and the water naturally pulls outwards from the ledge. There is also a large cunje bed against the shore, abundant red crabs and really long "streamer" cabbage- the favourite food of the biggest Blackfish. These streamers, up to about an inch wide and eighteen inches long, grow very close to the edge and when the tide covered the ledge, the big Blackfish often come right up onto the rocks, grab a huge bunch of streamers and tear the whole lot off, before rolling back into the water. Watching them from high up above, floating up en-masse and shaking violently to tear the streamers off is quite surreal, with numbers of them actually lying high and dry for a time, waiting for the next swell to float them back off. On calm days however, with virtually nothing much being dislodged, the fish feed on what's called "black cabbage"- which is the softer (than the strong streamers) green cabbage that grows permanently under water in the larger pools, most other cabbage is exposed at some stage of the tide- black cabbage isn't black, but in fact darker olive green and grows as individual plants more so than in a "colony" of others. It is also softer to touch and has multiple perforations, or holes, throughout the individual leaf structure. The reason the fish feed on it during calm conditions is that due to it's soft, more fragile texture and small individual root system, it is the only cabbage to break off and wash in with minimal wave action during calm seas. I guess fish instinctively know what should be/is washed in and black cabbage is the go-to cabbage for glassed out conditions due to it's availability to the fish. So after baiting up with black cabbage (which I'd only just learned about) I moved to "Bombie" and cast out well away from the danger zone of close to the rocks- danger zone? Yes danger zone because there are large numbers of big Black Drummer close to the edge at this spot, mainly in the 6-8 lb size range, and too hard to stop on Blackfish tackle in this particular location, some of the deep water spots you'd occasionally manage to stop one, but not where the bottom's in sight- they just go too hard. Drift commenced, float moves to the closest eddy and down it goes. Beauty, hooked up. Two minutes later and a nice fat Blackie is lunging around close to the edge. I look south as I maneuver the fish to my selected wash up spot and suddenly hear the noise that chills rock fishers to the bone- the sound of the water dropping rapidly right on the edge. Large drops mean large rises in terms of water, and as I turned 90 degrees to face the sound, I was confronted by the level of the ocean at over waist height, just on my low spot on the end of the ledge. The bombie had thrown up a lump of water directly at me. I was standing right in the most vulnerable place too, right on the edge, before I could brace for impact or stand on one leg leaning into the wave - the usual "defence" for a swell over the ledge- the water pushed me sideways, straight off the edge and into the water, where I went under in about 15 foot of water. Within a few seconds I was about 7 or 8 feet out, in the natural current, but away from the edge. Instant panic. Everything you've learned and read about what to do if you go in, says swim out a bit from the rocks so you don't get "sucked down" with the water flow, but instinct wants you to get out immediately. I still had the rod in my hand and I didn't want to let go of it, I'd built the rod and it wasn't new, but it was my first quality Blackfish reel- a Grice and Young "Golden Eagle" and it had taken a while to save up for- in 1978 four days work only gave me about $72 clear. Even though the sea was really flat, when you only have your head out of the water, everything looks bigger- the height of the platform to climb back out on, the distance out from shore, the next rising bit of swell, albeit really small, the little bit of soupy looking water- which also looked sinister- I've always been worried about sharks after seeing some big ones just "appear" from out of nowhere. How your perspective can change in just a few seconds. Also and forefront in my mind was that the two eddy's situated off this particular location, just slowly swirled around in a circle, with anything drawn in, such as a float, would be held pretty much where it was. Getting back in and away from these eddy's could be a life or death move. Some years later, two of the guys- Fraser and Brad were to find out, that making it out of these same eddy's is very difficult indeed, after both being washed in from the same location, under pretty similar sea circumstances, only this time, Rob, who wasn't taken by the wave that got them both, was quick in getting the pulley rope from the cave and managing to get it to them. Brad was to later say that he didn't think he was going to be able to stay afloat, as trying to swim out of the eddy, wearing heavy rock plated shoes, was like swimming with bricks tied to his feet, regardless that he was a good swimmer. So with rod still in hand, I swam sidestroke towards the big cunje bed adjacent to where I was originally going to wash my Blackfish out on. The bed, slopes gently into the water from just off the cliff wall and is completely covered in cunje "pods", it sits about 3 feet lower than the platform I got knocked off, but due to the angle of it, combined with both water run-off from the big pool behind the ledge and the oncoming wave/swell action, the water is quite turbulent, however there isn't much current. I had to swim hard, as I knew if I got taken into the eddy I'd be in trouble. I made it away from the drifting area, out of the current, and just as I was wondering where to aim for, another push from the water behind me landed me on the cunje bed, where I found myself standing up as the water receded. At first, I couldn't move as my rock plates had sunk in between cunje pods and I guess now that I was just startled at being back on solid footing without having to do much, but I snapped out of it pretty quickly, got my stuck plates up and ran the 6 or 7 yards to the safety of the back of the platform. Phew! Only then did I realise that I was OK, not a scratch on me and I still had my rod and reel in hand. Winding the line in from the reel, which had had no tension on it whatsoever, I discovered the line was wrapped around the cunje in multiple spots, so I broke it off and climbed up off Greeny and went to sit in the sun to dry off from my untimely swim. It took me a fair while to stop shaking and longer to dry off. About an hour passed before I re-rigged and went to fish a safer spot, keeping in mind what had happened and how lucky I'd been to not get caught in the swirling eddy. After fishing for a short time, I decided to give it away for the day and go home before peak travel time. I got unusually nervous climbing back up the cliff and took the goat track very carefully also. Thinking about the whole event while on the way home on the bus, it seemed to hit home as to how lucky I was and I couldn't wait to get back to Central, then on the train home to Croydon. I didn't dare tell my Mum that I'd gone by myself, as she would have banned me from going again, but I did fish the same spot plenty more times, albeit never by myself again. This might sound like I didn't learn much of a lesson from the experience, but I did. NEVER go rock fishing by yourself- it's just stupidity.
  8. Hi KC next time you see them that cheap buy a few! You're a gourmet chef, I bet you could turn them into a wonderful dish. I bought some real big ones one year to take up for the "Greenback" tournament at Cabarita Beach (there are other species prizes on offer also) and thought they might be good for some Jew. My mate's wife spotted them and said you guys won't even use them, you should leave them here and we'll put them on the bbq. We did- they are really nice to eat, like a giant sweet prawn
  9. Mantis shrimp make up a significant part of the diet of small Mulloway and are sold frozen as "killers". Several years ago they were on the front page of the Telegraph under the heading of "New Species Discovered in Sydney Harbour"- which made us all laugh as we used to get them live from Drummoyne Bait shop and have caught them several times on live prawns. They are often seen in summer scooting around lit wharves like Taronga Park.
  10. In answer to the question has Fishraider helped during the lock-down, for me, it's a HUGE yes. I've been at home for near 4 months, other than two trips to the Dr and chemist. All food is delivered and any bills paid via the computer. Only had a couple of visitors during this time- one being Raider DerekD, who also talks to me every week on the phone, so isolation with my house-mate I guess is the same for me as everyone. During the last few months, by posting stories of times past, some of my old fishing mates (some are Raiders) have reconnected with me and plans are to get together when this is all over. Writing posts about "yesteryear" has also given me something positive and constructive to do and am seriously considering putting all these stories in book form- something I never would have considered without the positive feedback I've received, was really just trying to contribute things for folk to read, about things they probably don't know a great deal about, like fishing the big cliffs. It's also given plenty of time to go through heaps of interesting and informative topics on the site and learned plenty of things from looking at old posts. Agree with the comments from Scratchie, Big Neil and Frank S- this is a really unique community and having met all three guys and quite a few other Raiders, we're all in great company and I'm really happy to be a Raider. Regards Waza
  11. Hi Praga like Burger says, wharf fishing is OK on Sundays, some wharves like Cremorne are really hard to fish during the week due to multiple ferry arrivals. Bradleys Head old stone wall below the mast of the Sydney isn't a bad spot, and there are also Leatherjackets that can be fished for on your Luderick set-up if Luderick are a no-show. There is also a small fort to have a look at as you near the end of the road down. The old stone wall was a premier spot when there was a wharf attached to the end of the wall, but it still fishes OK, as travelling schools often sit on the Harbour Bridge side. Fish half tide in to half out 8-11 ft deep under your float and weed is generally better there, due to there's a lot of short weed growing along there. Best of luck if you try
  12. Like Volitan said green ulva and excellent Luderick bait. The roots of it are round- if the fish are extra finicky you either break the round roots off or put your hook well down amongst the flat section. Days when the fish don't "go on with" the bite when the float goes down, often you'll get the root section back and the flat section has been taken- removing the root section sometimes makes a big difference
  13. Hi GF about my third or fourth trip to the Mattens there was a fairly smooth sea, but our mentor Wally said no going down on "Greeny" today boys- I thought it looked really good and it was the prime spot for huge Blackie's - one of the other regulars started fishing there and had to run for his life a few times when a set of those thicker swells came in. I got washed in twice on the same day fishing the "Bombie" wash there and I was the only one at the Mattens that day, going to write it up shortly. We often fished the wave swept low ledges at night, but usually in a group- not saying that's a safe idea, but you had to pick the right conditions. That's where the truly giant Bream lurk- where the red crabs live
  14. Hi Yowie great story! Glad you survived! Have had a couple of "wet" moments at Burning Palms platforms myself when fishing the blowhole there and one while just swimming at the figure eight pools
  15. Hi Dieter a big lesson learned that day- stay away when it's rough! Even though we weren't fishing
  16. Hi Blackfish and thanks! Always been pretty careful since that day, but it was just good fortune
  17. Hi Burger Fraser read the story on Raider and we were talking about it on the phone before and after the post, he said from ground level it looked as big as a block of flats moving at them! If anyone was washed in that day there would have been no hope of survival
  18. Wow must have been a similar event- you wouldn't think objects that size could get washed in. I remember seeing pictures of heaps of big boulders that were deposited on the oval at Terrigal behind the Skillion years ago and also remember 3 bushwalkers being washed off the headland at Grotto Point in Sydney Harbour near the lighthouse- having been to all these places it is almost hard to believe water could get that big in the locations.
  19. Hi Pete I "um'd and ar'd" whether to go down with Fraser and Phil, so glad I didn't. It was scary from our safe height. Only good fortune saved both Fraser and Phil that day. When we returned about a week later, a rock the size of a shipping container that made camp number two- complete with a Tooth's Brewery tarp attached between the rock and the cliff wall was also gone. Hard to imagine, but it ended up washed in over the edge, about 40 yards due east of where it sat against the cliff wall. Became a prime ambush spot for both Jew and Kings! To move that big an object it must have been a series of even bigger waves.
  20. Hi Burger it could have so easily been a tragedy!
  21. A group of us had planned a trip on the rocks, but the forecast of a really big swell had us change plans. Narrabeen Lake was the new location and as it was "safe" fishing compared to the usual cliff climbing expedition, a few extra guys were going to come. No problem, except there wasn't enough gear to go around, as the group was six regular fishers and seven newbies. As young blokes (I was 17) we only had a limited amount of outfits and some of them were stashed at the usual spot- the Mattens at Dover Heights. So it was decided to go to the Mattens at first light and retrieve a few more rods and reels before heading to Narrabeen. On arrival at the cliff top park just after dawn, we had a look at the ocean below, which revealed a really large and powerful groundswell coming in and swallowing up most of the ledges. The swells were a bit apart, but really thick and massive, making gear retrieval looking pretty difficult. However, as we still needed a couple of outfits, we decided to climb down the cliff as far as the pulley- situated about 130-140 feet above the water, check the sea out and make a final decision then. It was a good chance for the newbies to have a look for future reference, without having to do the big rope climb to the bottom. On reaching the pulley level, we sat and watched as line after line of huge swells came in from due east. It was a "westerly roll-back" swell, the kind that's most dangerous for fishermen and loved the most by surfers. These giant groundswells usually arrive within about 24 hours after a couple of days of really strong westerly winds. Big,thick, full lines of swell, that just engulf all before them. The stronger the westerly had been, the bigger the swell. They were lifting straight over our usual fishing areas, covering the rocks with about 8 to 10 feet of water, in some spots, right up to near the base of the cliff. After watching for a while, a pattern was revealed, there'd be about a dozen huge swells, then a bit of a lull for a couple of minutes, as the mass of receding water and "back-wash" flowed off the submerged ledges, almost like levelling out the next oncoming swells. Then another.dozen or so huge sets would roll back in, covering everything with ease. The white water was so churned up, it stretched out about 300 yards from the rocks, all you could see on the surface was white foam. I remember thinking that not even the fish would be able to handle the ocean in close, if feeding, they would have had to sit right out the back, as nothing would have been sinking close in. After having a long look at the sea, two of the guys- Fraser and Phil- decided that they were going to go down the ropes and see if they thought it was realistic to stay against the cliff wall- there was only one part of the route that looked hairy, if they waited for the lull, they could sprint the 150 or so yards on flat going, between swells to the relative "safety" of the drier, boulder-studded bay and go "high" and around the back, probably about 150-200 yards back from where the ocean met the rocks. No water would go up into the back of the boulder bay, it was both well back from the sea and up high enough. So Fraser and Phil climbed down the cliff, while the rest of us sat near the pulley watching the swell. On reaching the bottom of the ropes, you walk down step-like ledges and then disappear from the sight of those above, reappearing about 100 or so yards further south, on a long flat section of rock platform. This was the danger area, as although you were a long way back from the sea and up about 15 feet in height above sea level, you would be on flat ground, with the cliff wall on one side and nothing to climb up or hide behind when one of the big swells flowed over. They timed it well and ran the flat bit, making it to the boulder area well before the next big set of swells rolled in. They then went high up in the boulder bay, staying well up and away from the water. From the boulder bay, the next part of the journey was up high and back from the sea, then down a series of narrow stepped ledges that took you to about 15 feet above sea level, but protected from the swell by the higher "lake rock"- which was part of the main platform some 50 yards to the east of the cliff wall they were moving along. The next stage, after climbing down opposite lake rock, was another dicey bit, even though they were well back from the sea. They had to run about 100 meters to the "cave", again, up high, but not that far back from the big swells flowing in. From the cave, up about an eight foot rope, then up a few easy climbs, finally getting you to a small, wind-eroded ledge, nestled into the side of the cliff wall, probably about 80 feet up above the sea. This was our "rod-stash" spot and it provided a hidden, grooved crevice, where we left about half a dozen 2 piece rods plus reels.They were hidden from sight and in a place on the cliff where nobody would have any reason to be, besides, everyone fishing the location, pretty well knew each other and for many years, theft was not even a consideration. No outsiders fished the location, you only knew the way down if you were taken down by one of the regulars, it wasn't just a place transient fishers would ever turn up. We watched from the safety of the pulley area, as they took the furthest route from the water for all the stages, making the usual 15 minute scramble into a safer, albeit slower route and it took them over 30 minutes until out of our line of vision. We couldn't see them for their final 100 yard dash and climb until they reappeared about 20 minutes later, retracing the same high path on the way back. The guys had been down the bottom for over an hour and the tide was on the rise, enabling the big swell to flow over and reach just a bit higher into the boulder bay, meaning they had to do a fair bit of climbing up onto some of the huge boulders that were normally walked past. As set after set of big swell swallowed up the last section, they had to wait it out until another lull appeared, but no lull came, just more sets of the massive groundswell. It appeared from where we were, they were going to have to take a bit of a chance at some point, as the sea was still on the rise and the last 150 or so yards back, across the long flat stretch was definitely the most dangerous of the whole exercise. Plenty of water was flowing over the last section, it seemed like it was almost permanently under about three feet of foamy water, that flowed along the rocks like a fast flowing river. Each time the flow on the flat stretch finally receded to reveal the rock underneath, another series of swells would roll in and cover the area again.There was no way of getting back until another lull appeared, so they just stayed on the boulders and waited. Then we saw it, right out on the horizon. At first, it was almost like an optical illusion, even from our high vantage point, it didn't seem real. It was a line of swell, much, much higher than the already massive lines rolling in. Everyone up at the pulley level instinctively started screaming to Fraser and Phil, but they'd already spotted a lull and were off sprinting the flat section, through ankle deep water. They couldn't hear us in any case, the sounds of the ocean were simply too loud. They were running, sprinting along the flat section, right up against the cliff wall. Fraser about 15 yards in front of Phil and they'd soon be out of sight to us above, as the path took them well under our vantage point. Looking back out to sea, revealed not one large swell, but in fact there were three, all huge, much bigger and thicker than what was already a scary ocean. Fraser and Phil had been out of our vision for well over a minute when the first swell hit the platform below, just gliding over the whole area and leaving it totally underwater, the second swell flowed over the already submerged area below us and it looked from above that there was about 8 to 10 foot of water on the level the guys had just been running across. Leaning over the edge near the pulley, mate Ross called out "Fraser's on the ropes" and we all stuck our heads over the edge for a look. Sure enough, Fraser was on the climb ropes below and the third, massive swell hit the rocks and pushed up the cliff, but Fraser managed to keep hold of the ropes and although totally immersed and soaked, was still there when the water receded. Phil however, was nowhere in sight. The pulley itself sits on the northern-most edge of the ledge and after seeing Fraser still clinging to the climb ropes almost directly below it, thoughts turned to Phil, still unseen, somewhere below. Most of us raced about 20 or so yards to the southern extremity of pulley ledge, to see if we could spot Phil. Personally, I thought the worst, having been cleaned up by a large wave myself once, I knew how impossible it is to either resist or even go with the water flow and this was a series of 3 huge waves, that completely covered all the ledges below with over 10 feet of fast flowing water. I admit, that I was looking for Phil's body in amongst the whiteness of the foam, fully expecting to see him floating helplessly, somewhere over the edge in the sea. Meanwhile, Fraser to his credit, climbed back down off the ropes, to the unsafe level he'd just got away from, in order to look for his mate Phil. To say it was an act of bravery, was an understatement, considering he'd just had a near death experience himself. He disappeared from vision for only a minute and was back with Phil, who was still clutching an armful of rods (Fraser had the reels in a backpack)- what a relief! After making sure of no more of the gigantic swells were anywhere near, they tied the gear on the pulley rope and climbed up to the pulley level. It was all smiles at the pulley level and everyone marvelled the guys had each got back in one piece The question we all needed an answer to was- how on earth did Phil manage to stay on the platform? We all stopped talking and let him explain how he'd cheated certain death. He explained- as the first wave got near the rocks, he knew he couldn't make it around to the ropes, so he ran up into a crevice that ran north, up into the cliff wall, luckily for him, it also had a "honeycomb" texture each side and he went up in it sideways, as far as he could get, then turned his body 90 degrees, so he was physically stuck in there. When the water engulfed the platform, it of course pushed up in where he was and he was totally immersed, but due to being wedged in, as the water pulled out from the crevice, he was physically stuck in by turning sideways. The honeycombed sides gave a bit of foot, elbow and hand grab, but the simple turning of his body, undoubtedly saved his life, as the "suck-out" of the water had prised his grip free, but he just wouldn't fit out of the narrow crevice while turned. Being totally engulfed by the water was frightening, at platform level, he had no idea there were three waves, the sets had been around a dozen swells each time. All he was hoping for was that he wouldn't get sucked out of the crevice or drown from being underwater while the water flowed from the ledge. It was a big decision to leave the safety of the crevice when the water receded also, as he had no view whatsoever of the sea, bar the water flowing off the platform. He made the decision to go when the majority of the water was off the ledge, but just as ready to run back in again if more giant swells were going to hit. Fortunately no more swells after those three, and he ran the last few yards and resumed his climb up the stepped ledges to the ropes, some 20 odd yards around the front from where his crevice was. Tale told, Phil was still pretty keen for a fish, so we all climbed back up and headed for Narrabeen. A couple of hours after we left the cliff, another series of giant swells hit the coast and three fishermen were drowned at Bondi Murk, about a 3/4 mile south of the Mattens. These guys, were in a party of four and had only just walked down from North Bondi Golf Course to start the descent to the Murk, three were on the old iron ladder fixed to the wall when the swells hit and one above them on the ledge. I got this info from the survivor, when he came in to the tackle shop to buy a whole new kit of gear a few weeks later. They'd just gone to have a quick look to see if there was anywhere safe enough for a fish, where they were hit by the wave was almost inconceivable, well back from the water and not far down below the greens of the cliff top golf course.The survivor, only lived because he dropped his fishing gear and clipped his home-made belt to the ladder, which was cemented into the wall. The water ripped his hands and feet from the ladder, but his belt- which he'd made only a month earlier- had kept him attached to the the rung of the ladder. A companion below and above on the same ladder were both washed off and not found, as for the other victim, he was nearly 20 feet above the ladder. The story of the washed in fishers at North Bondi was broadcast on both TV and Radio stations throughout the day and due to our large group, someone's family heard the broadcast and frantic phone calls were made by most of our families, thinking it could have been us. We of course, were happily fishing at Narrabeen, oblivious to the news. Haven't seen Phil for many, many years, but Fraser and I are still great mates and we were talking about "THE" wave only recently, it was the inspiration for posting the story.
  22. For me, it's part hunting- for a particular species- even fishing for tiny fish for bait, the hunter comes out...part experimenting ideas and trying different things, part using rods and rigs and lures you've made yourself, or bait you've caught/collected yourself. It also takes you to places you probably wouldn't go to otherwise and shows you things you'd just never see. The mystique and "mystery factors" of what's going on below the surface. The sights you'll never forget, of creatures, scenery, weather. The water itself, it's noise, smell and movement. Not to mention, you meet like-minded folk with a common goal (like here on Raider) and you're out enjoying nature and "real" life, often at dawn or dusk or watching the night sky. Seeing a storm roll in. The best laid plans and organisation can count for nothing. The unexpected happening. Infinite variables. I just love it all