wazatherfisherman

The Eels of Glasshouse Rocks

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    When I was about twelve years old, one of my schoolmates invited me to go on holiday with he and his family-the Lark's- to Narooma on the NSW South Coast. We stayed in a caravan park adjacent to a lagoon on the southern side of the town close to the main beach. As a twelve year old, it was a magic location with the lagoon and beach so close for fishing and swimming. Also, there was still plenty of 'bush' as the area hadn't yet been developed to a great extent, leaving plenty of scrubby, tree covered space, ideal for young 'adventurers. Along with the area's interesting low cliffs, rocky shoreline and coast, there were limitless things to do and explore.

 Fishing was one of our favourite day time activities and a great many days and hours devoted to the pursuit of fish we could catch and then eat. Our holiday was a two week trip, so after exploring everything close to the caravan in the first week, the beginning of the second week saw us starting to venture a little further each day.  One of our plans involved walking to a large rock monolith known as Glasshouse Rock, which sat on the far end of the second beach, to the south of the caravan park. The plan was to take a small haversack each, with enough food and drink for the day, plus our couple of small fishing rods, some basic hooks and sinkers, a knife and the usual bag of green prawns for bait.

It was quite a walk to "the rock", from memory about forty minutes from the caravan and too far for any of the adults, so accompanied by two other boys our age from the next caravan, we set off with the usual warnings of "be careful and make sure you get back before dark".  

Once arriving at the rock, which stood high out of the water, a bit of exploration showed us several promising looking fishing spots around it's base and we proceeded to try them all, one by one.   After the long walk, the fishing was a little disappointing with only a couple of the 'desired' eating species being landed, in the shape of three barely legal sized Flathead and a small Bream, not much of a result for the effort involved, however something to "trophy" when we got back. Then we decided to try fishing from the western side of the rock, facing back in towards the beach. This side was a maze of small channels and holes in between broken reef and rock, surrounded by big patches of kelp. To be honest, it didn't look very promising, but we gave it a try. We got plenty of bites but only caught very small fish such as Sweep and tiny Black Drummer, nothing over six inches long and certainly nothing big enough to eat. Then after 'lowering' the line down a crack between rocks, suddenly a much heavier fish was struggling as it was pulled straight up and onto the rocks. This was a "Spotted Groper"(or so we called it) and at about fifteen inches long and a couple of pounds, was a great capture. The crack the "Groper" came out of, separated two really large boulders and was two feet wide by about eight feet long, with kelp protruding out for most of its length. The kelp moved backward and forward in rhythm with the movement of the ocean swell which lapped around the back of the monolith, and on each 'draw' of the water back towards the ocean-side, a deeper crevice was revealed, allowing our baits to go down further into a hidden labyrinth below.

All of a sudden, fishing had changed! Every bait that dropped down into the unseen lower cavern resulted in fish that were at least a foot long and put up a much better fight than the small stuff we'd been getting earlier. In the next hour we managed about twenty fish between the four of us. We weren't sure of the different species proper names, and whatever one of us suggested, became the 'official' name we gave to each variety. There were "Rockheads, Stripeys, Cods, Parrots and Spotted Groper". Nothing under a foot long and each one a prize to its captor. The 'slaughter' only stopped when the bait ran out. The two huge boulders that we'd been fishing from were angled down, each one sloping towards the other and as we were pretty much fishing at water level, the higher tops of the boulders blocked our view of the way back to the beach. We hadn't noticed that the tide had come in considerably and there was now a couple of feet of water over previously dry sand that separated us from the beach.  

The decision was made to just gut the fish and then leave,  so we all took turns with the knife to slit our fish's gut cavities. We hadn't taken a fish scaler with us anyway. By the time the gutting was complete and we dropped all the gut down the fishing crack, the route back in to shore had deepened to well over waist deep and it took a few minutes to wade back through the swirling water with our now full haversacks. The long march back to the caravan was done quicker than when we'd left, and our triumphant return with fish laden haversacks brought a bit of a crowd to the caravan site. Plenty of admirers congratulated us on the large haul and several fish scalers were swiftly produced. A burst of laughter from a couple of older, more experienced fishermen, followed by the re-naming of our catch to "Rock Cod, Wrasse, Butchers P's, Parrots (we got that one right!) and Wirrah's didn't deter our scaling and cleaning efforts. Once the catch had been prepared, the large caravan-park barbecue was fired up and foil wrapped fish placed all over the grill plate. Mrs Lark must have known that most of our fish were called as rubbish species and cooked a heap of sausages, for 'variety' she said.

When the lot was all cooked, we four fishermen were given the privilege of having first dibs on which fish we wanted. Luckily, I had overheard one of the experienced blokes state that "you can eat the Parrots, but the rest are crap"- so I chose a Parrot. It was ok, and we were all given a 'taste' of each of the other fish, so we could decide on the merits of keeping any future captures. ALL the other varieties were pretty terrible, yet we ate them anyway, not wanting to admit they tasted so bad, as we had already made plans to go back the next day, with more bait and heavier gear.

The people staying in the caravan opposite us were English and 'Bob' who was probably in his fifties, asked if he could tag along with us the next day. We didn't really want to give up our secret spot, but Bob said he'd shout a couple of bigger bags of green prawns for bait and as twelve year old's with limited spending money, we agreed. The next morning, Bob came to our Caravan with two really large bags of frozen green prawns and told us to go without him, as his wife needed him to go somewhere with her. He didn't want to disappoint us about the bait and said he'd meet us at Glasshouse Rocks later in the day, so off we went again on the long walk down the two beaches.

When we arrived at the spot, we went straight to the 'crack' as we now called it and armed with heavier handlines instead of our small rods, we started fishing. This time, when the lines went down the crack, the bites were different and pretty soon green eels were being dragged out and up onto the rock. No fish, just bloody eels, one after another. Maybe all the guts we'd dropped in the crack before we left yesterday had attracted them? Do eels travel in schools? We didn't know, but after dragging about a dozen out of our crack, we were convinced that nothing else was going to beat an eel to the bait.

The main trouble with eels is that they always swallow everything, including the hook. They then tie themselves in knots and tangle everything leaving a major mess. They are also slippery and extremely hard to kill. To a twelve year old boy, a slippery green, bait stealing eel was such an unwelcome catch. Each one cost us a hook, as nobody was game to try and retrieve them from somewhere deep inside the eel's throat. We didn't want to handle them and a quarry you couldn't kill was even worse. Eels have 'beady' little eyes and quite visible teeth, added to this, their aggressive demeanour demanded that the best approach was to cut your line before they wrapped themselves in a knot- at least you'd save your sinker from being caught up in the ensuing tangle. To say we were disappointed would have been an understatement- we'd come so much better prepared than the previous day. We had left the rods and reels behind and arrived with heavier strength handlines. Dropping our baits through the crack to the hidden cavern lying beneath it, was much easier, except the damned eels intercepted every bait before a fish could find it, if indeed there were any fish there at all now the eels had moved in.

We all agreed that we should try some of the other smaller cracks in close proximity to 'our' crack, as the eels must have taken-over and chased the fish out. Trouble was, most of the other cracks only seemed to be about three feet deep and none had a hidden cavern below like our original crack, with it's deeper water that went down to five or six feet. After trying about twenty-odd other spots, finally one was found that had the same type of features that we were seeking. Same kelpy surrounding, same sort of deeper cavern below and there were fish in it! Only problem was that it was a much smaller crack, roughly fifteen inches wide by about thirty inches long and too small for the four of us to all fish in at the same time. It was decided that we'd have to take turns, one line down the crack at a time. The rule we made- you could only take one prawn and use it as either one or two baits. If you caught a fish or lost your prawn you had to go back to the end of the line while whoever was next jumped in to replace you. This system seemed to work and same as the day before, fish started to be dragged from the crack, rather than the eels from the original spot. We decided to call this spot "Son of crack" and More 'Stripeys, Rockheads and Spotted Groper' were dragged out-(they were our names and we stuck to them!), each one cheered by the other boys next in line.

And no eels.

We had completely forgotten about Bob coming to meet us and were well into the second bag of prawns when he arrived. He asked what we'd caught and we showed him the dozen or so fish that we had placed in a dry crevice of the volcanic rock adjacent to "Son of crack". He said he expected to see a bigger spot that we could have all fished in together and we explained about the eels in the original spot. Eels? He wanted to know more about them, saying both he and his wife used to eat them back in England. What! The thought of eating one of the nasty buggers just never occurred to us, after all they were slippery and menacing, impossible to handle and would definitely bite you if given even half a chance!  Besides, you couldn't kill them anyway, so we thought.

We stopped fishing "Son of crack" and accompanied Bob back over to "Crack", some thirty yards back from where we now were. Bob had brought another bag of prawns with him 'just in case' and a couple of Mullet, which was good thinking as we had used the original lot up.

Bob seemed intrigued at our fishing spot. I remember him looking at the crack and saying "now who'd a thought there'd be anything livin' down that hole?" He said "ok, show me one of these eels."

A couple of baited lines were quickly deployed down the crack and we showed him how you could get the bait down the required extra depth by letting the water flow move the kelp, revealing the way to the hidden chamber below. Pretty much straight away, an eel was dragged out on one of the lines, but to our joy, the other line produced a large "Spotted Groper". Bob was impressed and he told us he'd deal with the eel while we went to grab all our gear from Son of Crack. With that, he simply grasped the slithering eel firmly behind the head and removed the hook with an old pair of pliers. WOW! What bravery to firstly pick it up and then get near it's tooth-laden mouth and get the hook back! We rushed back over to get all our gear from Son of crack and upon our return, found Bob standing about thigh deep in the water at the base of the huge boulder which formed the high beach side of the crack. This side was more like a wall that climbed about five or six feet above the water and actually out of sight from anyone fishing our crack on the opposite side. When we asked why he was in the water, he said come and look at all these nice eels! Nice eels? That was a completely foreign concept to four young boys who'd been annoyed and menaced by them, not to mention how many hooks we had already sacrificed to them.

Bob laughed and said "watch how many heads appear on the wall there"- he then produced a palm sized piece of mullet tied to a loop of cord and 'waved' it along the wall about a foot under the water. Sure enough several green heads appeared, less than a foot apart, protruding out about an inch from the multiple crevices of the underwater wall. What he did next both fascinated and horrified us.

Bob said "ok, this is how you get 'em" and chose an eel on the outskirts of the group to target. He then enticed the eel to come further out of it's lair by wafting the mullet, then dangling it just out of the creature's reach, slowly drawing it out about a foot. As he drew the eel out,his other hand was sneaking down the wall above the eel. He then allowed the eel to grab the mullet, which was firmly attached via the corded loop to his wrist. The eel would bite onto the mullet and try to pull the whole lot back into it's lair, but due to cord around Bob's wrist, would only manage to shred off a little bit of the exposed mullet-flesh as it seemed to 'suck' back into the wall.

Within a few seconds the hungry eel would come back out showing no fear or hesitation and head straight for the mullet offering. This time however, Bob let the eel grab the mullet and he quickly gabbed it with the hand that had snuck down the wall above the eel. I know both how slippery and strong these eels are, plus the fact they could almost 'retract' their own heads into themselves and was amazed that they could be so successfully held by anyone. Bob must have had really strong hands, as he quickly pulled the eel from the wall and waded in to show us. None of us wanted to get too close to it and Bob laughed and carried the slithering eel to where his backpack sat a few yards from the wall of eels. In the few seconds between wall and backpack, the eel had wrapped the rest of it's body around Bob's arm, which didn't seem to bother him, but certainly horrified us!

Bob reached into his pack and grabbed a large hessian sack, and he swiftly unwrapped the eel from his arm and tossed it in, then tied a bit of rope around the top to prevent it escaping. He looked at us and said "that boys, is how you catch an eel" and waded back in to go for another one. We watched as Bob repeated the same process again, drawing the eel out and grabbing it,then placing it in the sack. We decided Bob was probably the toughest man we'd ever seen! After he'd caught a third eel, crack fishing was resumed and we lost sight of Bob and his eels, due to us now being on the low, opposite side to where he was.

Same as the previous day heaps more fish were dragged from the crack and only one more eel. I caught a big 'Parrot' and stating it would be my dinner, decided to have first use of the knife to go and clean it. I took the Parrot around the other side to show Bob and told him we were catching fish again and not eels. He replied that all the eels must have moved to where he was, as he had caught about half a dozen.

By the time I'd cleaned my Parrot and rejoined the boys, the bait had run out. It was mid afternoon now and we decided to clean the whole catch. Bob had a knife and a scaler and we'd also remembered to bring a scaler, so while Bob kept eel catching, we four boys cleaned our catch. When we were packed and ready to go we asked Bob if he was going to walk back with us. He said he was going to stay a little longer as he had never caught as many eels anywhere and said they'd feed he and his 'missus' for a week. With that we left on the long walk back to the caravan.

On arriving back, the adults informed us that we were going to get dinner up in town and to see if anyone in nearby caravans would like our fish. We could always catch more tomorrow if we wanted to. We took my big Parrot and a smaller one to Bob's wife in the next van and gave the rest to various others in the caravan park. Then after getting cleaned up, drove into town for an early dinner of hamburgers and chips.  When we got back from town, Bob's wife was talking to a group that had just come back from beachcombing and had passed Glasshouse Rock on their way back to the caravan park. They'd seen him from a distance, standing in over waist deep water at the base of what we knew was the eel-wall. He seemed fine from where they'd sighted him and they just walked on by. About an hour later, the sun started to lower in the sky and Bob still wasn't visible, even in the distance. His wife was worried, he had his watch with him and was well over an hour late. We told her about the eels and how he said he'd never seen or caught so many, he was probably just filling up his sack. About half an hour later and with the sun now completely down behind the hills to the west, Bob was still nowhere in sight.

A search party of we boys and several of the men from surrounding caravans was organised and right on dark the group armed with torches, set off on the long track down the two beaches towards Glasshouse Rocks

. About fifteen minutes into the walk, Bob suddenly appeared. He had his backpack on and was shaking his head as we sighted him in the torchlight. He didn't have a shirt on, instead, he had it wrapped around his left hand and it was completely red with blood. He was glad to see us and thanked us for coming to look for him, but said he wasn't feeling well and had lost a fair bit of blood. He said he didn't want to stop and tell us the story until after he got medical attention. All he said was a "bloody eel" had 'got' him.

 Two of the men carried Bob's backpack and large heavy sack as we all walked with him back to the Caravans, where quite a large group had gathered. They'd been assuring Bob's wife he'd be OK and everyone was relieved when we returned with him. Someone from the caravan park rang the local doctor and Bob and his wife were driven into town to see him. As it had been a long day, I was asleep when they returned with Bob, some couple of hours later and didn't know what had happened until the next day.

 Shortly after breakfast the next morning, Bob and his wife (who's name I can't remember) came around to tell us what had happened. He told us that after we left, with the water starting to get a bit deep on the eel-wall, he decided he would only catch a couple more. He followed the same process he'd used the whole time- tempt the eel out and sneak his other hand down the wall from above and grab it. What he hadn't noticed was another much larger eel, that was hidden from sight in a crevice just above the eel he was targeting. As Bob's hand moved down the wall, this large eel, already hungry from the scent of mullet scraps floating in the surrounding water, quickly poked it's head out and grabbed the little finger on his left hand as it came down the wall. It then sucked back into the wall with it's jaws firmly locked on Bob's exposed little finger. The eel had grabbed his entire finger, from tip to the knuckle and locked it's jaws on. The more Bob tried to pull, the more the eel would wriggle, which hurt like mad. To add to his pain, every so often ,the eel would 'chomp and chew' on the trapped finger. Eels can swell themselves up and this one swelled and was impossible, even for Bob, who was obviously an 'experienced' eeler, to budge. With the water now up to his chest and no way to make the eel release his finger, his only hope was someone coming to his rescue. He hadn't noticed the group from the caravan park go past as he was too focused on his eeling and he probably hadn't yet been bitten when they passed, so he had no choice, he just stood there and waited. Eventually, with much blood and pain he decided he had no choice, he had to rip his finger out, regardless of how much it would hurt.

He psyched himself up, took a really deep breath and as he breathed out, pulled harder than he had before. Thankfully for him, his finger came back to him, albeit shredded dreadfully to the bone and almost hanging off. He had then grabbed his shirt and tied it around the wound, before grabbing his bag and sack of eels and started the long walk back just before dark. Bob was a tough bugger, he must have been to have ripped his finger back from the eel and also for carrying his pack and big sack of eels. There were about a dozen eels in that sack, ranging from eighteen inches to over three feet in length. And most of them were still alive, well at least until Bob tipped them out on the grass next to his van, where he chopped their heads off with a big machete-like knife. That night, Bob's wife fried up some of the eels and brought us a big tray full of pieces. I have to say that it wasn't too bad, certainly better than all the fish we'd cooked two nights before. From that moment, early in my fishing career, I was always wary of eels and It still remains the only time I ever ate one.  
 

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Great story  i have a huge dislike for them  i had a very large eel grab my gloved hand while grabbing crays at 25 ft deep  nearly passed out before hitting surface  from trying to rip my thumb out of its gob   i know the feeling bob had   scary

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30 minutes ago, rickmarlin62 said:

Great story  i have a huge dislike for them  i had a very large eel grab my gloved hand while grabbing crays at 25 ft deep  nearly passed out before hitting surface  from trying to rip my thumb out of its gob   i know the feeling bob had   scary

Thanks Rick - ever since the Glasshouse incident I have been wary of them, yet got bitten by one that some idiot dropped in our "drink bottle pool" when I stuck my hand in to retrieve my drink on the rock platform. Luckily for me it still had a hook in it's mouth and couldn't close that well on my finger

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What a tale! Thanks for sharing.

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I took an hour out from reading my book and read  your harrowing story of Pommie Bob and the finger eating eel. I have caught many eels during my early fishing days and always enjoyed the fight which they put up. However, once out of the water you wonder if it was a good idea as they writhe and tangle everything in sight. Trying to unhook them is a very dangerous process too so defo a need for cutting the line off. 

Thanks for relating your story Waza, an enjoyable read. Cheers mate, bn

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4 hours ago, masterfisho7 said:

Man some report 

Hi Masterfisho7 that was about 47 years ago and I've been wary of them ever since. Got plenty more eel stories

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3 hours ago, big Neil said:

I took an hour out from reading my book and read  your harrowing story of Pommie Bob and the finger eating eel. I have caught many eels during my early fishing days and always enjoyed the fight which they put up. However, once out of the water you wonder if it was a good idea as they writhe and tangle everything in sight. Trying to unhook them is a very dangerous process too so defo a need for cutting the line off. 

Thanks for relating your story Waza, an enjoyable read. Cheers mate, bn

Hi Neil glad you enjoyed it. Never trust an eel!

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Great story.. one of the best fishing reports I've ever read. Makes me re-live the early beach fishing days down the south coast catching salmon after salmon with the odd bream thrown in to make you feel like a hero :)

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A terrific read Waza, thanks for sharing.

Reminds me a lot of my childhood, growing up in a small, south coast town. 

We had a similar spot where you could catch your spotted groper (wirrahs) among boulders at the rivermouth and those rotten eels were always an unwelcome bycatch. I could never come at touching one and like you, would cut them off.

The local aboriginals would catch the wirrahs and boil them up with other goodies to make a soup. They called the wirrahs, muckindee and over the years I've grown closer to a nearby aboriginal community and tasted the soup a few times. Honestly, its pretty tasty.

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Super,Super Story.

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That’s an epic story from your younger days Waza & a great read I’m sure you’ve got hundreds more in your memory bank, I’ve heard they can be quite tasty but would never go there due to the hassle or there fangs

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31 minutes ago, 61 crusher said:

That’s an epic story from your younger days Waza & a great read I’m sure you’ve got hundreds more in your memory bank, I’ve heard they can be quite tasty but would never go there due to the hassle or there fangs

Hi Dieter will put a couple more eel stories on when my typing finger recovers! 

Those green eels that everybody hates so much actually cooked up (fried in a pan in thin batter) better than all the other fish we got down the crevice including the "Parrots" - which were in fact Wrasse- but they are higher in heavy metals, mercury and apparently cholesterol, due to them being at the "wrong end" of the food chain.

Pretty sure the eels Bob was used to in the UK were a far better feed.- 

I used to occasionally charter a guy who pro fished for many different species and he actually did really well selling Pike Eels- could always sell them for good money he said and wanted details of where we were pestered by them. Green Eels were no drama compared to Pike Eels- by far the most agro sea creature I've encountered

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20 hours ago, big Neil said:

I took an hour out from reading my book and read  your harrowing story of Pommie Bob and the finger eating eel. I have caught many eels during my early fishing days and always enjoyed the fight which they put up. However, once out of the water you wonder if it was a good idea as they writhe and tangle everything in sight. Trying to unhook them is a very dangerous process too so defo a need for cutting the line off. 

Thanks for relating your story Waza, an enjoyable read. Cheers mate, bn

Hi Neil got a question or two - did you eat any of the UK eels and were they any good? Also do they eat those giant Conger Eels from the wrecks over in the UK?- They seem to be chased like Mulloway over here as one of the larger ocean species

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9 hours ago, Bolts1 said:

Great story.. one of the best fishing reports I've ever read. Makes me re-live the early beach fishing days down the south coast catching salmon after salmon with the odd bream thrown in to make you feel like a hero :)

Hi Bolts1 -Bob was a hero to we four boys! Just for the bravery of grabbing one of those scary things!

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Thats an awesome tale Waza starting from the excitement of youth and discovery and not knowing negative boundaries to hold you back.

Right up to the tough old bloke that help burnt that  memory in your mind and of course Eels.

 

Great yarn mate. Thanks for taking the time to type it out.

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1 minute ago, Blackfish said:

Thats an awesome tale Waza starting from the excitement of youth and discovery and not knowing negative boundaries to hold you back.

Right up to the tough old bloke that help burnt that  memory in your mind and of course Eels.

 

Great yarn mate. Thanks for taking the time to type it out.

Thanks Blackfish! Finding the spot, then catching fish down the crevice was exciting enough. Still marvel at Bob catching those things by hand

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10 hours ago, wazatherfisherman said:

Hi Neil got a question or two - did you eat any of the UK eels and were they any good? Also do they eat those giant Conger Eels from the wrecks over in the UK?- They seem to be chased like Mulloway over here as one of the larger ocean species

Jellied eels are considered a delicacy in the UK, however having tried them they are NOT my cup of tea.

Conger eels are like a trophy species as they can be difficult to catch and present huge problems once boated. They are tremendously powerful. Not generally considered a "table fish of any significance". Cheers, bn

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Wowser, what a report and even more what memory for detail.

Its funny as reading it and knowing the area extremely well from both above and bellow the water I can happily inform you those areas are still prolific with fish. At times those underwater rocks do cover with sand, so it's not always as you described.

Thr gap between those rocks extends further than you can see from above the water and as it moves out into around 10m deep between the rocks the number of fish and species increase. We actually named the spot fish soup after first snorkelling it around 15 years ago. With all the fish are often grey nurse, hammerheads and occasionally bronze whalers sharks and of course woebegone's. Further around the next bay south is also pretty fishy, especially over the washy shallows of reef. It's an area we still hunt around most weeks.

As for the spotted grouper, we do see plenty of the protected black cod, blue  groper (brown females too) and drummer etc.

The eels are plentiful especially in the best lobster cracks. I never have any concern with them but they have given my daughter a few nasty bites before. I have seen green moray eels and small conger eels moving on mass accross the sea flor before, on both occasions they were moving to dead whale carcasses. When I followed them I discovered many species including large rays trying to get a feed from the whale, one ray had a fresh bite around 60-70cm wide through its wing. I collected some baleen and got out of there, it seems to be a location dead whales often end up for some reason and I now have some whale vertebrae for the collection too. I would of thought those eels you encountered were as you described drawn in by the fish scraps you had previously put there.

Checking any area out from beneath the surface is incredibly useful, not only for finding new fishy spots but also for learning fish behaviour and habbits. Some areas look fantastic but hold very little, things like snapper hold in just one small area between those rocks you mention but don't ever seem to roam or mingle with the fish soup mass of fish. To catch the snapper on a line you would need to climb the smaller of the rocks and fish its washy front edge between the third smaller rock above the surface further out. Not really recommend as you could get caught out by the tide and the rock itself is extremely crumbly.

Those rocks are also home to peregrine falcons.

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Awesome read and a great story,

I'm sure a lot of us can trelate to the fighting and struggles of eels, and many of us have stories of caravan park fishing and holiday adventures.

Look forward to reading more memories from ya

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Waza. What an epic tale, most enjoyable reading I have done in a long while. As I am a bad reader I generally get bored with long threads but your story and the way you tell it had me interested all the while I was reading it. It also reminded me of many of my youthful days adventures.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Frank

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8 hours ago, big Neil said:

Jellied eels are considered a delicacy in the UK, however having tried them they are NOT my cup of tea.

Conger eels are like a trophy species as they can be difficult to catch and present huge problems once boated. They are tremendously powerful. Not generally considered a "table fish of any significance". Cheers, bn

Hi Neil thanks for the info, I was given some English fishing 'magazines' in newspaper form, and there were articles and reports on the huge Congers- never mentioned their eating qualities

Regards Waza

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5 hours ago, JonD said:

Wowser, what a report and even more what memory for detail.

Its funny as reading it and knowing the area extremely well from both above and bellow the water I can happily inform you those areas are still prolific with fish. At times those underwater rocks do cover with sand, so it's not always as you described.

Thr gap between those rocks extends further than you can see from above the water and as it moves out into around 10m deep between the rocks the number of fish and species increase. We actually named the spot fish soup after first snorkelling it around 15 years ago. With all the fish are often grey nurse, hammerheads and occasionally bronze whalers sharks and of course woebegone's. Further around the next bay south is also pretty fishy, especially over the washy shallows of reef. It's an area we still hunt around most weeks.

As for the spotted grouper, we do see plenty of the protected black cod, blue  groper (brown females too) and drummer etc.

The eels are plentiful especially in the best lobster cracks. I never have any concern with them but they have given my daughter a few nasty bites before. I have seen green moray eels and small conger eels moving on mass accross the sea flor before, on both occasions they were moving to dead whale carcasses. When I followed them I discovered many species including large rays trying to get a feed from the whale, one ray had a fresh bite around 60-70cm wide through its wing. I collected some baleen and got out of there, it seems to be a location dead whales often end up for some reason and I now have some whale vertebrae for the collection too. I would of thought those eels you encountered were as you described drawn in by the fish scraps you had previously put there.

Checking any area out from beneath the surface is incredibly useful, not only for finding new fishy spots but also for learning fish behaviour and habbits. Some areas look fantastic but hold very little, things like snapper hold in just one small area between those rocks you mention but don't ever seem to roam or mingle with the fish soup mass of fish. To catch the snapper on a line you would need to climb the smaller of the rocks and fish its washy front edge between the third smaller rock above the surface further out. Not really recommend as you could get caught out by the tide and the rock itself is extremely crumbly.

Those rocks are also home to peregrine falcons.

Hi JonD glad to hear the area is still a great fishy spot. I've been back to Narooma stacks of times fishing, one year I went down heaps of times with old friend the late Kenny Griffiths and when it was too rough to go outside, we went to Mystery Bay and a couple of times to Glasshouse. First time back at Glasshouse, only the tops of the "crack" were visible, the rest was covered in sand and basically no water there. Next trip down there the way out to the big rocks was over waist deep and there was a school of really large Yakka's sitting where the "eel wall' was.

My eel story goes back 47 yrs now and Bob is cemented in as a fishing "hero" such was his "bravery" in handling the eels!

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5 hours ago, Squ!rt said:

Awesome read and a great story,

I'm sure a lot of us can trelate to the fighting and struggles of eels, and many of us have stories of caravan park fishing and holiday adventures.

Look forward to reading more memories from ya

Hi Squirt glad you enjoyed it, more posts coming soon

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4 hours ago, frankS said:

Waza. What an epic tale, most enjoyable reading I have done in a long while. As I am a bad reader I generally get bored with long threads but your story and the way you tell it had me interested all the while I was reading it. It also reminded me of many of my youthful days adventures.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Frank

Hi Frank glad you liked it got some more eel posts to come! 

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