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The "Mates Rod Effect"


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Just about everybody who fishes should relate to this. Over the course of your fishing life, how many times have you caught a fish on a rod not "manned" by you?- Either someone you know or perhaps a complete stranger's - has it happened the other way around, someone getting a fish on your set-up?

I caught my first Kingfish off the rocks on one of the other regular's rod's. He had put a live Yellowtail out under a cork and then joined me fishing for Luderick about 50 mtr's away. The sea was really flat and it was a really stinking hot day. Murray- the rod's owner- lived just above the cliffs we were under, decided to go back up the cliff and get some cold drink for us both. As he left, he said to keep an eye on the rod, which was in a really solid rod holder.

About twenty minutes after he'd left, I was carrying a Luderick to put in my keep net and walked past his rod and everything seemed OK. On the way back to my rod, his Alvey ratchet made a noise and I walked over to have a look. Couldn't see the cork anywhere and the line was fairly tight and down, so I picked the rod up, not expecting anything to be on it. The heavy line usually pulls the cork under after being left unattended for any amount of time, so I thought it had just sunk. Surprise, surprise- there was a decent weight on the line, so I just reeled it in, absolutely no fight whatsoever and into view comes a Kingfish about 6 kg. The cork float had a match stick wedged into the hole to act as a stopper, but it hadn't come out as it was supposed to, leaving about ten feet of line between fish and float. That made lifting the fish too difficult on the rod, which was roughly as long as the depth of the rig and since the sea was so flat, I decided to walk the fish about 100 mtrs south to where the minimal swell was just barely coming onto the lowest ledges.

I nervously walked the fish to the wash-up spot and got in a good position to wait for a wave, after a couple of minutes a big enough swell (I thought) came in and I attempted to wash/drag the fish up onto the lower ledge. The swell just wasn't quite big enough and the fish only barely made it to ledge level before tumbling back off.

All hell broke loose then, as soon as that fish fell back into the water, it took off, nearly pulling the rod out of my hand. I hadn't been worried about the line breaking- it was super thick mono (Murray said later it was 70 lb) but the fish which had done absolutely no fighting or showing any resistance just "came to life" and the battle was on for a couple of minutes. I got the fish back in to the same spot and all of a sudden a voice behind me said "move back and lower the rod tip"- it was of course Murray back again- so I did as he asked and he just dragged the Kingie up by hand and onto the rocks. It was the first Kingie he'd ever got, so he wanted to take it home, it was his rod and he caught the Yellowtail and put it out, so I couldn't argue. However, I did get it in and got to feel the power of a Kingfish, regardless of the heavy line and broom-stick heavy rod, which was an old surf rod with about a foot or so cut off the tip.

Over the years, plenty of other fish have met their doom via mate's rods, another time was at the same spot, with two other mates Fraser and Rob. Fraser had bought a super heavy live-baiting set-up, with a big deep spooled Alvey and a rod he got built purposely for Kingfish- a Butterworth 9144 that was cut down from 12 ft to about 10 ft 6, line was 44 lb Tortue mono. It's a serious rod for big fish and has accounted now for heaps of Kingfish and Mulloway up to 18.5kg.- Sadly not for Fraser though! 

The first couple of Kingfish he hooked on it were monsters and busted him off after brief but hectic battles and the rod was on it's third trip on the rocks. After slow spinning some baits for Kings with no takers, he re-rigged it with a set of ganged hooks and cast a Pilchard around for a while, but due to the outfit weighing so much, decided to have a breather and go up to our cave to make a cuppa. Rob and I were fishing for Luderick nearby and when Fraser announced he was going to get a billy boiling, Rob cheekily said "watch me catch a big fish on Fraser's rod"- we had a laugh and Fraser left us saying "just don't get snagged and lose my hooks"

Rob picked up the rod, which still had Pilchard on the flight of ganged hooks and cast out, but not being used to the thick line and heavy set-up, the bait only went out about 15 mtrs from the ledge. He said "that'll do" and we again shared a laugh. Well about a minute later, Rob was on! The fish came in pretty quickly on the heavy gear, a nice little Mulloway about 4kg. We both laughed as it flapped around on the ledge and the hooks came out easily. Rob then grabbed another one of Fraser's Pilchards and cast out again, this time not as far as the previous cast, due to the line being slightly "buried" in the big sidecast's spool. I put my Luderick rod down and grabbed the Mulloway to put it up safely on the higher part of the ledge and turned round to Rob's cry of "I've got another one!" the second fish was about 6.5 kg and put up a decent albeit brief fight on the heavy gear. 

With that we decided to go up for a cuppa and left both fish secure on the high part of the ledge. I took my Luderick rod up with me as I wanted to grab my heavier gear to come back after the cuppa and try for a Mulloway also. When we got up to the cave- which is about 150 mtrs  from where we were- and told Fraser that Rob had just caught two Mulloway on his new rod, because it had happened so quickly after Fraser had left us, there was no convincing him that it had happened- he thought we were just stirring him and retorted with plenty of light-hearted replies and insults. Imagine the look on his face when we went back out for the next session! He couldn't believe it!

I later down the track became owner of that same rod, when Fraser sold all his fishing gear to trek Nepal with a girl he was really keen on. Caught heaps of big fish on it and I still have it to this day.

I've also been on the receiving end of the "mate's rod effect"- while fishing at White Rock near Bradleys Head one day. We had gone to Taronga Wharf and caught about a dozen small live Yellowtail and carried them down the bush track and out to the "Rock" We each put out a live bait on the bottom in hope, of some nice Flathead and sat back to monitor the rods. Mate Frank suggested that he'd watch the live baits while I rigged my Luderick rod up. No action on the Yellowtail, so I went over to the Luderick gutter and started drifting my float. There were plenty of Luderick that day and I started getting into them. Frank was content to stay with the livey's.

When you fish the gutter, you have your back turned to the live bait spot, and with Frank manning the rods there, I just concentrated on Luderick. A shout a bit later revealing he had landed a good sized Flathead, which he carried to our keep net, telling me he'd come over shortly for a couple of go's on my Luderick rod. Another shout and he again was walking to the bag with another good Flattie. As time wore on, he got another good Flathead, I was happy catching Luderick, but wondered why my rod hadn't gone off.

About six months later after one too many beers (how many is that?) Frank blabbed the truth about the Flathead- he'd got 3 of the 5 on MY rod and quietly wound them in- yes 5 Flathead, he'd put 2 straight in his backpack to hide them! Never let him near my rod again the cheeky bugger.

There are plenty more "mates rod effect" incidents, certainly plenty on extended fishing trips on houseboats, where we introduced the rule of "any unattended rod is fair game" - the exceptions being using the toilet or cooking for the crew- but those first three really stick out to me, be interested to hear of others "mates rod" tales.


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I have a similar experience.  Two of mates went to Copeton Dam, to compete in a Cod fishing competition.  Well caught a couple under 1m and the other, just could not even get at bite.  The first one decided that he would cast again and then went off to answer  a call nature.

You have guessed it his rod went off and the second one reeled in the fish .  It was a Cod, just over the metre mark and it won him the competition. 

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Great writeup , reminds me of many occasions where similar things have happened.

The weirdest of my tales is, I was fishing with 2 mates in my Savage Lancer 5.3 at the brothers reef Bermagui.

I had a rule in my boat that no rod was to be left sitting with the but on the floor and rod leaning against the gunwale, plenty of rod holders fitted, well on this occasion this rule was ignored by one of my mates.

The rod was towards the front of the boat, You guessed it a sizable fish took the bait, the rod jerked and over the side it went. I happened to be standing at the port side rear of the boat with gaff in hand waiting to see color on my other mates fish that he was bringing to the surface, I jabbed at the rod with gaff as it went past me and with the greatest fluke of all times the gaff found the leading eye of the rod and I pulled it in, then proceeded to wind the fish in which was a 5kg Snapper, best fish of the day. Meanwhile other mate lost his fish.


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Another great story Waza. Thanks for taking the time to write and share it.

My first ever jewfish was taken at Greenwell Point wharf on a handline that my Dad had baited with a live yakka and wandered off. I remember he was pretty pissed off because up until then, he'd never caught a jew himself. 

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Another good story Wazza. 

If I catch a fish on someone else's line, it is my fish. If someone catches a fish on my line, it is also my fish.¬†¬†ūü§£¬†Therefore, don't touch my lines. :074:

Another part of your story is pulling up a fish that does not fight. Many years ago I pulled out an 86cm flattie in the Hacking, not one little bit of a fight, a lump of seaweed would have put up more fight.

When the flattie hit the bottom of the boat, I had to stand on the seat. For what seemed like several minutes, in reality much less, the flattie swung it's head on the bottom of the boat. The fish box, the nipper pump and everything else was flung around the boat. It just kept swinging that big head with the big side spikes, if it hooked your toes they would have been ripped off. (I fish with thongs, all year round)

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Not Quite the same, My son gave me his rod to take a bream off on the beach. I gave him my rod to keep fishing. When he came back, There was a Whiting on his rod !!

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great write up! Always enjoy reading your story's 

reminds me of when my dad and i went to comerong island for a night to camp. great little island. Anyway he gave me his alvey and 14ft rod to "hold" while he went to the toilet. I was around 7-8 years old? could barely hold it.

I start slowly reeling it in getting a feel for the reel, making sure the line goes on somewhat evenly next thing you know something smashes the mullet chunk. I'm barely able to hold the rod, never alone reel what ever took it. The fish calms down abit after a good first run and some of the line has gone around the reel handle, fix that and start reeling it in, big head shakes, fish goes for round 2, able to control it abit better this time around. Eventually after a good 5 minutes i see the silver slab in the surf, put the rod in the pvc holder, grab the leader drag it up the sand and finally see my dad sprinting from 100 meters down the beach... Hes been to the car to grab his smokes. 

a nice 90odd cm jewie came of that.

same thing happend the following year on the south side of Taren point bridge. he went to the car to get a bag, i hook a 37cm bream on a float. on his rod. 

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