There's one major reason I'm writing this report up, being the Rockfishing Safety Act. Today was a great day, aside from the power tripping copper I had encountered right at the end of my day, which I'll get to.
Not much action today at Browns Point but it's a beautiful spot if you haven't tried it. Be aware though, there is a bit of a hike to get down there. About a 10 min uphill/downhill, uneven ground bush walk. If you're not the fittest person in the world, the way down to Browns Point is pretty bad but it's worse on the way back up lol. The reward though, is that the water is nice and clear (looks great for a swim, a few folks came and went throughout the day for a dip) and it's not terribly snaggy, though there is quite a bit of weed and rocks close to the shore, so if you're casting further out, you'll be sweet.
Mrs and I had two rods out each, two rods on the more heavy duty side and two light set ups. Both our big rods got nothing. Tried garfish, mullet fillets, pilchards and squid and nothing was touched with one exception - when I reeled in after casting out about 45 minutes prior with half a squid (head end) on double snelled hooks, I reel it in only to find that the squid, plus the hooks, plus a good chunk of my leader were gone. I'll take a safe bet and say a shark came across it and couldn't help himself.
Our small rods is where the action was. We could see about 2m out from where we were standing on the rocks that there were some biggish, black coloured fish swimming around. They were interested in our bait and we did get quite a few pecks but nothing big enough to be able to hook em. I was about to reel my small rod in to change rigs after having it sitting in the water for about 15 minutes with a decent chunk of squid on the hook when BAM a huge hit. I pick up my rod and pray to the fishing god's that whatever it was hit again and they answered my prayers. Another big hit and I got it hooked. Put up a great fight, particularly because I was using light tackle. When it started getting closer to the surface I saw what I thought was a luderick. It kind of didn't surprise me at that point because I have caught a Luderick once before on squid (at Nambucca Heads). This fish kept trying to win the fight by going in to the weeds and under the rocks, fortunately the Mrs had the net ready to go and we managed to land a very nice fish which was later identified, thanks to my friends on fishraider, as a black drummer - my first. Measured in at 35cm and had a great weight to it.
Mrs ended up catching two today on the light tackle. First up was a Port Jackson that was heavy as shit and I'd say around the 70cm mark. I was blessed (NOT - I'm terrified of sharks) with getting it in the net, which it barely fit in to. Took a happy snap and off she went to live another day. I'm curious if anyone has ever tried eating one? Reason I ask is when I was at Airlie Beach earlier this year I saw guys targeting and dispatching grey reef sharks to eat.
But I digress. Next fish was a weird little red one and wouldn't have a bloody clue what it was but it was returned to the water after a timely struggle in removing the hook from her mouth (we try our best not to throw fish back in with hooks left in their mouths and avoid it as best we can). Threw her back in and she was floating on the surface. We felt so bad, thinking we should have just cut the line, but fortunately she got enough water/air through the gills and after 30 secs swam back down to live another day (and possibly lay her eggs, we think she may have been pregnant).
**Word of Warning**
Onto to my point about the PoPo and this, frankly puzzling, law regarding life jackets in Randwick council.
Now I understand the good intentions behind this law. I understand many lives have been lost when anglers have gone rock fishing. Shit, there was yet another death just yesterday in La Perouse (though the angler was wearing a life jacket ?). You'll find where I find issue with the laws near the bottom of this post.
I, as you can see in the picture, was wearing a life jacket. Mr Senior Constable Power Trip comes along and yells down at first the Mrs (who was not wearing her jacket, though she did have it and I told her numerous times to put it on) and says he wants to speak to her and she quickly pops over to the backpack to get her license and life jacket. I shake my head and have a chuckle because I couldn't wait to turn around later on and say to her "I told you so!" (it's a rare opportunity). I go back to casting.
THEN I hear this guy yell out "Sir? SIR?!" I turn around (this isn't the first time it's happened, it doesn't bother me) and say "sorry, are you speaking to me?" and he says "yeah I'm speaking to you. It appears you aren't wearing a proper life vest."
I look at this guy and think "are you not seeing this big, blue, ugly arse, f*** off vest I'm wearing or are you indeed seeing it and thinking I'm wearing it as some sort of fashion statement?"
I bite my tongue and say "what's the matter with the vest I'm wearing, sir?" he says "it probably doesn't meet the Australian Standards. Check it for the five ticks. I said "I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that that was a requirement, the signs just say 'life jacket'".
Now this is where it gets funny, and probably got my arse out of a $100 ticket. I'm facing him and take my vest off to check and see if it has these ticks on it. He then notices "the girls" which where well hidden by this stupid vest and says "oh... I'm sorry... ma'am". I say "it's all good, and no my vest doesn't have the ticks. I genuinely didn't know about it" he let's me and Mrs off with a warning, even though he had just handed out fines to 4 other people nearby us.
Where my issues lie with the laws are this:
1. Signage around the area simply states "Wear a life jacket when fishing. It's the law." Nowhere does it say Australian standards. Now I'm not a lawyer, but I do know how to interpret law as it is part of my job. The council cannot expect people to read the Rock Fishing Safety Act 2016 and read, at the very bottom of the act, that is states the jacket must be of Australian Standards. The very first section and subsequent subsection states people must wear life jackets, which is where I'd assume most people would stop reading the law, because it seems very black and white. It is not until you read down to either the last or very last section where it states Australian standards. If I were fined, I would've happily taken it to court and contested it and I believe I would've had a good chance at winning.
2. This is what really bothered me about this law and where I am quite tempted in making submissions to the council and subsequent lawmakers to have changes made to the law, purely out of unfairness. There was a couple, sitting literally right next to me on the rocks, with no life jacket but weren't fishing - no worries. But because I am there with a fishing rod, I can get a fine for not wearing a life jacket. How does that make any sense? If I was swimming and had my rod out, how could they justify fining me? Would they expect me to swim with a life jacket on? These are issues within the law that, in my opinion, need to be reviewed.
Nevertheless, if you guys are out fishing on the rocks, where ever you are, please wear a life jacket for your own safety. And if you don't want a $100 ticket, ensure that they meet the Australian standards. I'll be purchasing some for myself soon. The ones we had today went in the bin.
Apologies for the rant and if it is inappropriate for the fishing report but I did want to voice this with you guys because it seems now the police are dead set on enforcing this law now. If you guys reckon I should add my warning to another part of the site, please refer me to the appropriate section.
All in all a good day, though I can't say it ended on a high note.
Happy fishing to you all and stay safe out there.