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Everything posted by wazatherfisherman

  1. Hi Stu he doesn't gamble usually but we told him to get himself a lottery ticket with that luck. It should also be noted that large quantities of that energy drink are also no good for you!
  2. Hi Rebel it could have been a tragedy so easily
  3. Hi Neil he never should have attempted the climbing part and there wouldn't have been a problem. We were powerless to even look for him without the little boat and I dare say he wouldn't have survived the night if he hadn't made it back by himself- it was absolutely freezing. When we were younger we dubbed the creek "the coldest place on earth" as we originally fished there in car-top aluminium boats. I was really glad to have another first-aider to reference with that night because we couldn't have got him out of there or got help in due to the fog. Glad you enjoy reading these posts
  4. Hi Blackfish yes he was extremely lucky and didn't even lose his gear- the Sustain was the second most expensive spinning reel (behind Stella's) at the time.
  5. Thanks Pete if he wasn't such a tough bloke he would have been in dire straits- no more alone trips up there after dark
  6. One year on our annual houseboat trip, half the guys had to leave early for work commitments. Nothing new about that happening, it's always hard to coordinate 6 or 7 people for an entire 5 day trip during the week. Weekend trips weren't as difficult to organise, but with either work or family commitments, the longer trips would normally have at least one or two early retirements. So by day 4, there were only three of us left aboard, John M, Myself and our other mate who I'm going to call RB, as the following story did embarrass him. The RB stands for Red Bull, his favourite drink and it contributed in part to the events of the night. After dropping off three of the guys at Cottage Point where their car was, we made our way back up to Waratah Bay in Cowan, where we'd stayed a couple of nights already that week. There's only two public moorings in the bay and even during winter, it's hard to find one free, we did have one the previous night, but as you can only stay on them for 24hrs at a time, generally, as one vessel vacates, another quickly takes it place. Having a mooring to tie up to is very convenient and also takes the worry of both anchoring and being moved around by the wind- which can be a common occurrence during the strong westerly winds of mid winter. By the time we arrived back at Waratah, the moorings had both been secured by other craft, so we decided to anchor in the deep water on the downstream side of the bay, out towards where the bay merged into the main part of Cowan Creek. We've caught a lot of different species while fishing this deep area, other than the main target of Hairtail, we've got Bream, Snapper, Flathead, Mulloway, Tailor, Salmon, Frigate Mackerel, John Dory and even a 16kg Blue Groper- just to name a few, plus quite a few small sharks. As the spot is virtually at the entrance to the bay, almost anything can turn up and each new incoming tide brings the expectation of a new school of fish arriving. We'd had a good trip this year, with plenty of quality fish caught, no Hairtail, but the other fish landed were really good size and as long as a few get caught each year, the year's trip is deemed a good one. The bulk of the catch were Bream and good sized Tailor in the 1.5kg+ size range, they always give you a good fight on the 4-6kg tackle and taste great when cooked on the boat's BBQ. Those who don't like eating them may never have had one cooked super fresh like this- cooking them in the fat left after doing a few sausages gives them a real nice flavour. After anchoring with both bow and stern anchors, we re-set our burley containers and fished for Yellowtail for a while- we still had a fair few live ones in the box we keep them in, but you can never have too many, as they supplement the nights cube burley as well as being the prime live bait. Once the Yellowtail have turned up in the burley, they generally stay around the boat pretty much all night- which is great for attracting all the bigger fish that feed on them. Catching these Yellowtail is a really simple matter, a size 12-14 longshank hook on 4lb line, with a tiny piece of split-shot pinched on about a foot above the hook for weight is all you need. Bait for them can be literally anything, but a really tiny piece of any type of Tuna or Bonito with the skin left on is perfect and you can catch stacks of them on one piece of bait by basically just 'poling' them in. Yellowtail secured in the laundry basket hung over the side, burley cut up in readiness for the night and an early dinner for us, well before dark. Nobody ever thinks of doing anything other than fishing during the prime time of dusk, so dinner is either well before dark or some time late into the night, not that dinner is usually very complicated, as we've got used to taking a few pre cooked meals like lasagne's in individual disposable foil containers. Having food pre-cooked and in containers for each crewman, means you eat when you feel like it, just placing dinner containers in the boat's oven. Simple measures like this contribute to an easy trip, in fact, quite often, the only meals that require cooking are the breakfasts or the occasional fish meal done on the vessel's BBQ. Another 'big' factor with taking pre-cooked meals is no washing up is necessary! Sounds lazy I know, but it's just part of making for an 'all fun-no stress' type of trip each year and we like to think we've 'refined' it down to maximum comfort and fishing time. Usually on these trips, the houseboat's supplied tender- an 'unsinkable' poly rowing boat complete with oars, gets a fair bit of use fishing wise. These little boats only come supplied with oars and a bailing container, no anchor or anything else at all, as they are basically just used for transport from the houseboat to the shore or riverside store at Cottage Point. Daylight hours have the boat in use for getting in to the sandbanks, which lie at the end of pretty much every bay in Cowan. Accessing these banks you can stretch your legs, pump nippers or have a fish on the edges of the drop-offs that connect the banks to the deep water and undoubtedly some of the guys will have a fish along these spots. Due to both the cold and heavy condensation levels of the area after dark, the little boats aren't often used of a night and we generally moor them amidships against the houseboat where they don't get in the way of fishing. With only three of us left aboard for the final night of the trip, we set plenty of live baits out for Hairtail and established a constant cube trail to supplement the other two burley dispensers we had out all afternoon. One of these has basically just mashed Pilchard and 'flaked' Tuna while the other is only finely mashed bread, which drips out constantly and keeps the Yellowtail mass close by. Everything set, we waited while the last bit of daylight quickly merged into darkness- prime predator time. It was a really large incoming tide, the water was nice and clean and the bioluminescent life was making every water movement 'glow'. For those who haven't seen this glowing effect, everything that moves in the water disturbs the tiny bioluminescent creatures (which look like tiny clear scales) and on being disturbed, emit a short amount of 'glowing light'- which reveals whatever has moved within a few inches of them. Some nights, everything from the anchor rope to your fishing lines will have a glowing trail emanating from them and everything fish-wise that moves around quickly and excitedly can be seen. Everything except the Hairtail that is, their super 'teflon-smooth' skin enables them to move around easily without disturbing anything at all and gives these strange fish the ultimate stealthy approach when chasing prey. A couple of hours after dark and no Hairtail had showed up, a few more good sized Tailor had come aboard and a few squid, but the hoped for Hairtail were a no show. As things got quiet towards high tide, RB decided that he'd take the tender out and have a go along the drop-off, about 250m away. There's a small creek that pushes up another 250 or so meters from the drop-off, it's only a trickle unless the tide is well in and often there are some really large Bream moving around in this spot towards high tide. We'd had a couple of drinks, only a couple, as we'd long banned getting drunk on houseboat trips and everyone only takes enough grog for a coupe of drinks per day. It is after all a fishing trip and although a couple of drinks is fine, with cramped living conditions, it's a better trip without much grog aboard, and this has been a 'condition of boarding' for quite a few years now. RB loved drinking Red Bull energy drinks and had probably had at least 4-5 throughout the afternoon, plus a couple of Scotches after dark, but was fine to go out in the tender, as he wasn't going very far and there were two other houseboats (on the moorings) and two other small fishing boats within view. Before quietly rowing away from our houseboat, he did however grab a four pack of Red Bull cans to take with him and he headed towards the junction of creek and sandbank which was just obscured by a corner from our position. John and I fished on, catching a couple more Tailor and a couple of squid on the live baits before a thick fog started to descend on the bay. RB had been gone for well over an hour as the fog started to come lower and we were surprised he hadn't come back, as the night air was by now absolutely freezing, but he's a very experienced fisher and outdoorsman, so we just assumed he was getting some decent fish. Another hour passed and the fog descended right to water level, it was one of those pea-soup thick fogs- one you couldn't see any more than a couple of meters through and it looked like ultra fine rain with smoke in our torch light. By this time, we were getting concerned and put one of our head torches on 'strobe' function, as well as all the lights on in the houseboat, before calling out and whistling for a good few minutes. No reply or sound of anything at all. There was another large houseboat moored about 50-60m from us and before the fog rolled down they would have probably been able to see around the corner obscuring our view, but they were inside their vessel with young kids and no doubt had all the doors and windows closed and we got no response from them either. As we knew RB was going to go up the creek with the high tide, we just hoped he was getting some Bream and there wasn't some sort of problem because we couldn't really up anchor and drive a 50ft houseboat around in that sort of fog safely anyway. Time passed and the tide was dropping considerably, which meant that RB would have to get out of the creek before he became stuck for the night, but still no response to our calls and for those knowing the area, of a night, with no wind at all, you could hear a pin drop- it's that quiet. It was now over 4hrs since he'd left and we could no longer see the other houseboat's lights or in fact anything at all. No good calling anyone, as with the fog like it was, visibility was basically only a few meters for everyone. Then all of a sudden, we heard a noise towards where we knew the shore was, and recognizing the sound of an oar splashing the surface, knew it was RB coming back. When he appeared out of the fog, he was kneeling in the little boat and using an oar like a paddle. As he got up close to the houseboat, he still hadn't replied to our greeting and we knew something was badly wrong. On reaching the side he said "help" and we gaffed the short tow-rope on the front of the tender and pulled him around the back to where the boarding platform is and got him out of the boat. RB was soaking wet and had some shocking scrape marks on his head and hands, with plenty of dried blood on his forehead. He was absolutely freezing and shaking dreadfully, but could barely speak, and just said "drink quick", so we got him a water and he gulped it down. Only then he managed to speak and said he'd fallen in and become disorientated as to where we were, in relation to where he was. We decided to put him in the shower to warm him up and he recovered enough to tell us what had happened, but was suffering from hypothermia from being wet and freezing for an extended period. After getting dry from the hot shower, we got him straight into his sleeping bag and put a stack of the houseboat's supplied doona's on him while John and I talked about correct procedures for hypothermia, although we both have work-cover accredited first aid certificates, neither of us had ever treated the condition before. It took a while, but RB finally stopped shaking and started to warm up, before relaying what had happened after he rowed away from us. He said that after fishing along the edges for a fair while and slowly floating up to the sandbank at the inner side of the bay-right where the creek came out- he'd spotted heaps of good sized fish disturbing the bioluminescent life and thought they were Bream and he'd try for them. Every time he got close though, the 'glow' from the little boat's movement would spook the fish, which moved further up into the tiny creek. So he decided to tie the boat up against the shore and stalk them on foot. He got out of the boat and moved along a little, but the side of the bay he was on has basically no access along the shore, so he decided to go upwards. This proved to be a bad move because he continued going upwards and soon found himself pretty much on the side of a sheer wall about 15 or so meters above the water. He could still see the bioluminescent movements almost below him and moved slowly along the edge, high above the water. His plan was to come down on the only accessible large boulder a bit further up and fish from it just above water level. The stone part of the 'wall' ended and was replaced by really steep bush with a soil base and he moved along this edge by grabbing saplings and hillside vegetation to steady himself. He was wearing work boots, but they didn't have a great tread on them and he had wet weather gear on and was pretty hot from his climb. After making it along to above his destination rock, he drank his fourth Red Bull can and started the near vertical descent down. About 10 meters above the rock he started slipping and regardless that he grabbed plenty of vegetation on the way down, he picked up speed and tumbled at least 5 or 6 meters down the last bit, landing between the only two boulders at water level. Everything on the level he landed on was covered in oysters and he cut himself as he tumbled and slid- only his expensive wet weather gear saved him from more skin loss, but his $600+ jacket and waterproof trousers were torn badly. He actually landed on his feet and never lost contact with the hillside or he would have been injured really badly and was also extremely lucky to have landed between the boulders and not on one, how he didn't at least break an arm was genuinely miraculous, but injured and shocked he was. He was also lucky that landing in the water, albeit shallow, helped to cushion the fall, but he did bang his head badly and had a lump on his head by the time he got back to us. He was completely saturated and had lost his expensive rod and reel and small bag of bait and tackle. When he realised he hadn't broken any bones, he waded back through chest high water to where he'd wedged an oar in the rocks and tied the boat to it, but couldn't pull the oar out of where he'd wedged it, so decided to use the remaining oar like a paddle and headed in what he thought was the direction back. After paddling for a while, he realised he'd gone the wrong way in the fog and was totally lost, no other craft visible to him, so he turned back and managed to find the creek mouth eventually, in part because the school of fish was now coming back out of the creek and their glowing trails were his markers. When we asked why he hadn't called out? He replied he was so dehydrated from drinking Red Bull and chain smoking cigarettes that he couldn't even call out, which was what he was like when he finally made it back to the big boat. As we weren't sure if he was suffering from concussion from the lump on his head, we decided to keep him awake, with John and I talking to him, we finally let him get a bit of sleep several hours later, when the silence was broken by the sound of a reel's ratchet alerting a fish had taken a live bait. As fishing had been completely forgotten since RB's return, lines hadn't been monitored at all and the ratchet heralded a decent fish was moving with a bait. We left RB in his pile of warmth and went out to attend to the fish, which was on one of John's rods. It was a big Tailor and had been on the line long enough to have swum several laps around the boat, picking up every other line in the process and causing the most monumental tangle of all time. All the lines had to be reeled in and the resulting mess and line snarl had to be cut off- no chance of untangling multiple live baits that'd swam around and around each other. By the time we reset all the baits, RB was sound asleep and seemed to be breathing OK, so we let him sleep and kept an eye on him, before resuming active fishing again. We caught some good fish before dawn, but as soon as it was light enough, John got back in the little boat and went looking for RB's gear. About 20 minutes later John was back with the lost rod, tackle bag and the missing oar. He said there was a huge 'slide mark' on the side of the hill and we should have a look at it before we left. When we'd had breakfast, John and I rowed over to the slide mark to check it out and sure enough, where RB had come down was in the small gap between two large boulders. He'd taken everything in his path down with him as he slipped- soil, shrubs and dirt were all over the rocks below the slide, indicating exactly where he'd come down and we just shook our heads as we looked- he never should have attempted what he had-it was far too dicey. We rowed back to the houseboat and found RB up making a coffee, so we knew he was well enough to question more, especially after us seeing his accident site and John retrieving his expensive Sustain reel and custom rod. The trip finished that day, but at the post-trip meeting, it was decided in the future, nobody was to take the small boat out again after dark. RB was extremely lucky to have survived that night, if he hadn't been able to find us he may well have frozen to death and that's after missing landing on the rock, hitting the oysters and becoming dangerously dehydrated from only drinking Red Bull. It could have been a tragedy and it's the one thing we've never made jokes about, even years later.
  7. So sorry to hear, my condolences to Stewy and family
  8. Hi Pete thanks! We used to call them "next door neighbour fish" and outside of comps just mucked around with them with light line- better stuff to eat, but they turn out real well if you smoke them. Rather eat the bycatch!
  9. Hi Jim hope you're well- although they are available throughout winter from the coast, during the years when the murks were flowing there were just millions (literally!) of them and you could see them in the water everywhere. Since the treatment outflows were moved offshore, the massive schools are no longer visible and I don't know if the Trevally moved out to the new deep ocean outfalls as they were always sitting in the top few meters of the water column. Perhaps they just adapted and feed lower? There are still plenty at places like Sow and Pigs reef in the harbour
  10. When we first started rock fishing at Dover Heights, we often made the trips overnighters. Being pretty new to fishing the rocks, we took pretty much everything we thought we might need, which lead to carrying far heavier backpacks than we really should have when navigating down cliffs and around the rocks. Like many young fishers, regardless of all the equipment we took, we rarely took enough food with us, rather relying on catching something we could cook instead. At first, most species of fish were a really welcome catch, so you took everything from Luderick gear through to gear for spinning, bait fishing etc, in order to make sure you took a bag of fish home- as 'evidence' was needed in some households to justify the effort put in. Due to the location being such a productive area, if your initial targeted species weren't around, you could change approach and still get into some fishy action. Over time however, with more experience, we learned to target fishing styles more 'specifically' which of course resulted in better bags of what we wanted to catch. With the exception of live-baiting for big fish, (which came a lot later from our initial forays) we concentrated our daytime efforts on either Luderick fishing or "cunje" fishing. Cunje fishing involved using either cunjevoi or crabs (I know we called it cunje fishing- but it's a 'style' of fishing) and fishing mainly with the simple rig of a small ball sinker running between swivel and hook, targeting Bream, Drummer (now called Rock Blackfish) and Luderick. Bi-catch were Groper, Tarwhine, Leatherjackets and various rock dwelling species. Very occasionally a Snapper or Salmon would be landed, but generally throughout daylight hours, it was the first three species that filled our keepnets. This basic rig catches all the different species found around the Sydney ocean platforms, it isn't 'hi-tech' but you could pretty much only use this rig for any species and expect to do well. On flat sea days, with access to a big variety of different spots to drop a bait, cunje fishing was usually pretty productive, but always came after the 'usual' start of fishing for the day. Main reason for this being, that all fishers realise the value of fishing the pre-dawn/dawn period, so throwing a ganged Garfish, Pilchard or lure around would get you a few Tailor or something even bigger, besides, you had to gather your crabs and cunje before your cunje fishing could commence. As it was pretty easy to catch a few Tailor first thing in the morning, they were often the fish we'd cook up for breakfast on the rocks. For many years there was a basic BBQ, made up of a hot-plate cemented above 4 beer can supports over a depression in the rocks and it got plenty of use. Fresh caught Tailor is always tasty if cooked soon after capture and was often shared around with whoever was there fishing. With Tailor being a fish that doesn't freeze well at all, 'cunje fish' were better to take home. Usually if we cooked fish, it wasn't any fancy method, just a whole fish or a few fillets cooked skin side down on the plate, I always had salt and occasionally a lemon, otherwise it was just plain fish. It was nice to have a hot meal, especially if we'd been there all night, as by morning, you'd have pretty much eaten all your food and often only the space food sticks in the 'emergency kit' were all that was left. Space Food Sticks were a great thing to have in the kit as they were small, nutritious and reasonably filling, and I've often wondered why they stopped selling them. Fire wood of some sort could be found if you went for a walk up amongst the large area of boulders a few minutes from the camp area, as there was nearly always enough small branches to start your fire and there were usually a few pickets from the cliff-side fence that had found their way to the bottom of the cliff, along with the odd piece of driftwood- not enough for a big fire, but just enough to cook your fish. When it came to cooking fish we had a rule- if fish were going to be done on the hotplate, whoever caught the second fish had to get the fire going and do the cooking. Why the second fish? Didn't seem right to make whoever caught the first one do the cooking, so it made for healthy competition to get the first fish of the morning. Having said this though, no cooking was done until the first session either ended or tapered off enough to send the cook away from any action. Even though we often stayed overnight, sometimes, due to the sea making it too dicey to fish most of the lower platforms, we hadn't caught anything or anything that was going to be sacrificed to the hotplate. So the early morning Tailor session was vital for catching breakfast, as you could rely on getting at least a few Tailor most of the time. Depending on how much moon there was, would usually determine how long the Tailor would bite. On nights with a lot of moon, the fish would bite throughout the night, often in bursts at different stages of the tide. These nights, you had to get your fish before first light or you'd miss out, due to the fact that the fish had been feeding over an extended period and finished before the sun came up. Conversely, on nights of little moon, the Tailor bite would last much longer in the morning and whether bait fishing or spinning, the fish were still active even after the sun had risen. The only exception to this was if there were visible surface-feeding fish around. Every so often though, even the reliable Tailor would fail to appear, or if they did, it would only be for a minute or two as they were on the hunt for bait fish around the edge of the wash and raced through on only one quick pass. This was more likely to happen if there were only two or three of us fishing, as with more fishers and more baits in the water, it would capture the school's interest enough to have them search around for the rest of the 'school' of baits. These were the mornings when bait fishing rather than lure fishing was a far better idea, a good thing to remember when fishing in groups. With the odd day without a Tailor for breakfast, it was usually a couple of Luderick that ended up on the BBQ instead. By the time the Tailor gear was swapped for the Luderick gear and then a bit of work burleying the Luderick in, hunger would really kick in and the first couple of Luderick would be destined for the fire. After taking a while to get the first couple of Luderick one 'Tailor-less' morning, the three of us fishing were pretty happy when the second fish was washed up and secured. As Fraser had caught fish number two, Rob and I urged him to cook. Due to our arrival in the dark, no firewood had been collected, so off went Fraser in search of something to burn and after scouring the area, came up empty of fuel. He yelled out that he'd take the walk back to the bay of boulders to find some and was off on the ten minute walk. About half an hour or so later he appeared again, clutching a few bits of wood and proceeded to get the fire going. Another half hour or so went by, in which time Rob and I caught a couple more Luderick, but still no call of "come and get it" from the cook. Rob said to me he was worried that something had happened to breakfast, as it had taken far too long and yelled out to Fraser who was about 100m from where we were still fishing. We got a wave back, but as the sea was noisy that day, no reply could be heard over the sound of the waves. Rob then said to me ''he's burnt the fish for sure, we'll end up having to cook these two and he can come and catch himself one"- then Fraser was back, rod in hand and we said "where's the fish?"- "Oh they fell in the fire and got ash and crap all over them- we'll have to get a couple more". We called him hopeless and laughed saying we've got ours, he'd have to catch one now if he wanted a feed, before pulling up and grabbing the two fish from the keepnet, which we then gutted and took up to the fire. We poked around in the ashes to revive the fire and surprise, surprise- partially hidden under the only decent sized bit of wood were two perfectly picked clean Luderick- the bugger had eaten them both! To this day if he misses out on something food-wise, we simply say "Oh it fell in the fire!"
  11. Hi Bessell1955 that story would apply to plenty of river users I reckon. One of my other mates took his boat up one year when we were on a houseboat trip so we would have a sounder and the ability to quickly pick up/drop off other mates. We left the houseboat with three on board and headed up Smiths Creek to have a look around and were gone for about 2hrs, in which time the fog descended, so we decided to return before it was too low over the water. Too late! Before we were out of Smiths it was virtually water level, so we stayed close to the shore and putted along until we saw the sign at the mouth of Smiths marked "Bobbin Head" and an arrow pointing to the right. Craig who owned the boat said "no problem- we just go in a straight line to Waratah Bay once we're past the point" and proceeded to move out into the fog away from the identifiable shoreline. I immediately objected to leaving the shore, but he was adamant he could drive a straight course back. About 20 minutes later, he said "see I told you we were OK, there's the other Bobbin Head sign"- I started laughing uncontrollably and shaking my head and he asked what the hell was so funny? I told him there is only ONE sign pointing to Bobbin Head, which he steadfastly refused to believe. We had done an entire circle and ended up back at the sign after 20 minutes! He of course argued that there were two signs- there had to be, I was wrong. We eventually found the houseboat and the next morning we set out to find the other sign. There is of course only one sign, but he still refused to accept we'd done a perfect circle when he was going 'straight'. It was hard to believe, but there is only one sign and that's what we saw both times. We've laughed about that for years and he still reckons there MUST be another sign. Foggy fun! Regards Waza
  12. Hi Neil lucky you missed the roo! The Cowan fog is often 'impenetrable'!
  13. Hi Pete I reckon many trawlers just aren't watching out for small craft and assume you'll get out of their way! Always enjoy fishing the fog, especially in Cowan where it's so often foggy in the night/early morning
  14. Hi Noel it's amazing how far off course you can get without realising! Scary when you're outside
  15. I'm sure everybody's had 'fog experiences' at some point in life, some are eerie, some almost magical and some end up being downright dangerous. Most fishers would have had trips to the water that involved the fog, whether in a boat or shore based, the quiet, smoky stillness is well remembered. I've been on a few trips where fog has played a big part in what's happened. After leaving Drummoyne ramp one morning in a decent fog, by the time we made it down past Cockatoo Island the fog started to really drop to water level and pretty quickly, visibility was down to only about 10 meters. The skipper had organised to meet a mate at Sow and Pigs Reef, so he decided to keep on going, but the visibility was so bad we could only just putt along at walking pace. After about 5 minutes we got sight of some shoreline and started moving closer in to look for something familiar. On the shore we heard a voice and it ended up being a guy walking his dog. We yelled out and he came a bit closer, when we asked him where we were he said Berry's Bay- we'd done a 90 degree left turn from the western side of Blues Pt and were heading into the bay. We turned around and it was OK travelling along the shoreline, but as we rounded the head and turned towards the Harbour Bridge, again it was too foggy to see very far. I wasn't keen to keep going and insisted to stay along the shoreline if we were going to keep moving, but instead, he motored out into the fog and kept going. Bloody stupid idea. Crawling along blind in a pea-soup fog wasn't safe- regardless of only going walking speed and once again you couldn't see any land. My argument was that we would soon be in the major traffic area adjacent the bridge, with ferries moving around and we wouldn't have a clue where we'd be after passing there anyway. Then we heard the unmistakable sound of something coming towards us- it was one of the big Rivercat's and it was right in front of us. Luckily for us the captain had seen us and slowed right down before yelling a few choice words. He had every right to be angry as we just shouldn't have been out there moving along blindly. The Cat skipper told us to go hard left so we'd be close to Lavender Bay and out of the way, which we did. Once we sighted the shore again I felt a bit better and we stayed in there until the fog started to lift about an hour later. Once we started moving again you could see well enough forward, but I'll never forget going under the 'invisible' Harbour Bridge and hearing a train up above us- surreal stuff! As we passed through the 'washing-machine' area (so-called because all the boat traffic from Circular Quay makes it turbulent) just past the bridge, the sun started appearing and the fog began to break up. It ended up being a top day, but it could have been disastrous. Up in Cowan Creek during winter it's pretty common for the fog to descend right down to water level and it's almost a certainty if it's rained earlier and there's little wind. Some nights it comes not too long after dark and others it isn't until the really late hours. Four of us had gone Hairtail fishing in our mate Ross D's boat, my brother, mates Fraser and Ross and myself. We were fishing on a midweek night during May and as it was early season, Ross wanted to give the boat it's first decent run for a while, so we headed to Flint and Steel near the junction of the Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay. More renown as a Mulloway hot spot, the 'Flint' is also on the migrating Hairtail's route to Cowan Creek, where they are head to spawn. The spot we fish at the 'Flint' sits on the upriver side of the point and due to the really strong tidal flow coming out of the Hawkesbury River, we only ever fish there on smaller run-in tides, which can be really good for the incoming Hairtail. This night, we arrived before low tide and had a couple of goes at anchoring before we were happy with where we were. There can be a lot of undesirable species there if you end up too close in to the hard reef, but as we were fishing whole Pilchards on ganged hooks without lead, your bait rarely gets anywhere near the bottom. When the tide turned and started to run in, we had the best night's Hairtail fishing we'd had for years as there seemed to be endless Hairtail coming past. The Pilchards, pinned on ganged hooks -which were attached to a wire trace- rarely sank out of sight of the cyalume light-sticks that we place on the wire, before another fish would take the bait. It was a windless cold night, and we had a ball catching plenty of fish, everyone swapping rods and constantly catching them until the rain came down. For about threequarters of an hour and we crammed in the cabin, drinking soup and eating our sandwiches while we waited for the rain to stop. We had so many fish (there were no bag limits and Hairtail are highly prized by all on board) that there wasn't anywhere to put another fish and we still had to gut the lot, so we decided to call it a night. Due to the weight of all the fish, after hauling the anchor, I volunteered to stay up in the nose of the cabin to 'balance out the load' (in reality I was pretty cold and tired that night!) so I curled up in the cabin and was quickly asleep. When I nodded off, we probably hadn't been underway for more than a few minutes and the boys were just cruising along slowly towards the mouth of Cowan on the way back to Coal and Candle Creek, with Akuna Bay boat ramp the destination. Shortly after passing Hallet's Beach, which isn't that far inside Cowan, the fog had come down and by the time they rounded Cowan Point and headed towards Cottage Point it was really thick and low over the water. There's a really bright fog light at Cottage Point that penetrates even heavy fog- it's necessary because there are a lot of moored boats out off Cottage Point- the only waterside development in Cowan. The boys had no problem seeing the glow from the light and turned into Coal and Candle, following the the shoreline while there was light until the glow of Cottage Point and it's fog light were out of sight. If I live to a hundred I'll never forget what happened next. I was woken from my warm and now comfortable spot, with three concerned faces looking at me and I'd barely opened my eyes when they almost said in unison "where the hell are we???" How on earth was I supposed to know-I'd been sound asleep for about 20 minutes!! Having been there plenty of times and having a bit more knowledge of the river than all of them, it normally would have been a fair question. However I'd been sound asleep and even snoring, so how on earth would I know? You couldn't see 2 meters through the fog, it was so thick. I couldn't see anything except fog all around us, it was like smoke, and it was cold and wet when I left the cabin to try and see something. I asked what the last thing they'd seen was and Ross explained how they'd come into the fog as soon as they came inside Cowan and had only made it as far as they had because of the big fog light's glow. We were in Coal and Candle, but where? There was no sign of the fog light behind us and you just couldn't see a thing, so I said we'll just have to drop the anchor and wait it out. That went down like a lead balloon, everyone was cold and we'd eaten everything already, but there was no choice, so over went the anchor and we crammed into the small cabin once again. It was around 1am and I thought we could be there for many hours. Around 4.30am a freezing breeze started up and the fog lifted a couple of feet above the water, Ross decided that he could see enough if he put his head over the side and we pulled the anchor and just crawled back to Akuna Bay- which also had a fog light on at the marina. By the time we idled into the ramp, due to sitting still for so long, we were absolutely freezing, so no fish were cleaned there and we got the boat on the trailer and the heater going in the car. For the record, we caught 56 Hairtail that night and they were real good fish, all around five foot and above- no small ones that night. The four of us haven't been in the same room together for many years now, but I still remind them of being woken up to the cry of "where are we?" -still the most unbelievable question I ever been asked!
  16. Hi YeahNah222 there are worms on Manly and Queenscliffe beaches, also Narrabeen and probably all the ones in between. Good luck, hope you get a few
  17. Hi Blackfish there are probably millions of them around and we rarely see them because they're nocturnal hunters
  18. Hi Rebel no doubt there's plenty up your way also!
  19. Hi Puddlejumper there's no mistaking the colours when they're lit up. Close call for sure
  20. Hi Pete your collection technique is a great idea (and safe!) I think people know these days they are deadly
  21. Hi Dave for some reason I thought they were only oceanic but they are certainly well up the rivers as well.
  22. Hi Noel glad to hear your son survived!
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