Friday night and it is pouring down the rain that is, my partner in crime Jock has the flu so I am left to take on the rock we called “Oasis” but you guys know as “Neverfail” on my own. Loading the Hilux with out Jock just didn’t seem right but a blokes gotta do what a blokes gotta do.
I got to Kiama and I was getting edgy, not about fishing the ledge but I had done some careful homework and was confident that a good fish was on the cards. How in God’s name would I be able to hold a rod and gaff a fish of any size on the ledge where I would need to fish owing to the seas being up?
A standard gaff was one thing but what if I needed to use my 21ft flyer I had made to fish this rock ledge on a jumbo? Well only time would tell. Owing to the big seas I opted to go to Greenwell Point to get some Bung (yakkas) for bait and so I knew I was in for a long cold night and a tough day.
“Driving along the Pines into The Point and I knew I needed to stop at the pub for a “Heart Starter”. That done and the pub closing I rolled down the hill onto the wharf. (In the car that is). To my surprise I saw Fossils big blue Ford Fairlane parked in the car park. I knocked on the windows and was greeted by Jaws, Lash and The Fossil. Asking where I was going to fish I told them and so my big worry was a worry no more. We would fish together.
On to the wharf and the rain belting down saw Jaws and Fossil last half an hour until they went back to the warmth of the car. The two diehards, Lash and I stuck it out till 3.30am and caught about 8 big yakkas. Cold and ticked off with the lads in the car I loaded the bung into my Hilux with a 12v airator and big tub on board we headed off to The Range.
Foss managed to guide the big blue tank through the mud and hollows but if any probs had occured I could have pulled him out. Getting to the top of the cliff with darkness all around us and that blasted rain still bucketing had us thinking that we were all mad. Well I knew I was but I couldn’t speak for the others.
Getting the extendable jib I had made to lower my gear at this place out of my ute had me wondering if we would be able to fish the ledge, the sea was pounding in below us. As I got to the edge I decided to wait for the sun to break on the horizon before I was going to venture onto the precarious ledge I would need to go to set the jib up.
Suns up, Jibs secured, gear on the rope, and the lads going down the side of the cliff it was all happening. I lowered the gear down and had to wait for them to untie it so I could do another three loads. The gear all down I scampered down the side like a rabbit to get rigged up. What I saw when I got around the corner had my heart go into sinking mode the seas were huge.
No spinning on the low ledge today boys and how are we going to get baits in from up here I thought. We would have been a good 40ft off the water and still getting ocean spray on us. We were there and so we were going to fish and that was that. We all rigged up and owing to the conditions I made up a double that was at least 50ft long and my trace would have been at least 20ft. There was no way a bloke could get down low to try and land a fish so I needed all the protection possible to avoid being cut off on the ledge below us.
I can’t tell you how the other lads rigged but I will say this keep reading cause what Jaws did will spin you out. We all managed to get our baits in the water. The lads were using standard rigs and floats but I was using a home made Torpedo style float but it was a lot larger than standard and was no trouble to sea in the huge seas. All the lines were tight and if the drags were not slightly on the spools would have been empty.
We were freezing cold but at least the rain had stopped.Lunch time had been and gone but so were the yakkas. Only one left. I did a bit of a song and dance about that. Me and Lash had been up most of the night and still had our first baits out. Thats fishing I guess. We were cold,uncomfortable, tired and ticked off, not a good place for a kumbaya session I give you the mail.
It was about 2.00pm when we heard Jaws 6/0 Everol let out the most mournful howl you could imagine. The ratchet was screaming and line was disappearing at the rate of knots. He didn’t have to strike the fish he just lifted the rod out of the hole and it nearly got ripped out of his arms. Heading North all Jaws could do was hang on. We all pulled our lines in close so as not to waste the precious baits we had left but also it would give Jaws a clear go at this fish on the end of his line. The fish slowed and a stale mate was in place. The rod locked, the fish arcing a dead give away, Tuna and a big one at that. The 50lb line could be heard singing over the wind and nothing could be gained but little bits at a time were being lost.
Eventually the arc broke after I suggested to stick it up this bludger of a fish. I got Jaws to up the drag slightly and run to the other end of the ledge to put a different angle on the fish. That did the trick it turned it’s head and was coming his way. I like to call it “Walking the dog”.(No not Arnie) Gaining and losing line was pretty regular for the next half hour but each time the tuna took line it was getting less and less. Home and hosed we thought. I started putting together the 21′ flyer and getting a safety rope ready to put around me as I would have to climb down close to the water even with the big gaff.
Then disaster struck Jaws had an asthma attack and we couldn’t find his puffer. Eventually Lash found his one and had it going down Jaws throat at the rate of knots. “Wow we thought that was close. Another 15 mins into the fight disaster struck yet again the stupid handle fell off the Everol ( Ah! That maintenance thing again)
Rushing to my pack I found a 6” shifter – The things a bloke carries in his pack ! The handle on and Jaws was just about stuffed at the one and half hour point of the fight. “It’s now or never Jaws” we said and so he upped the anty on the fish and went for broke. As the fish neared the big ledge protruding out in front of us I was getting Lash and Fossil ready for this would take the whole four of us if we were going to get this sucker.
Foss was going to take my life in his hands and hold onto my safety rope while Lash was going to take the big pole off me once I got the flyer in. In case I went in, I stripped down to those blasted undies (AGAIN) BUT THEN all hell broke loose. I was trying to work out the best place to go down and gaff the fish when Jaws yells out ” There it is” ” Struth what do I do here” I thought. I got straight down from where I was screaming at Fossil “Don’t you let me go”. It was hard to get down for Foss was holding the rope so tight I had to keep yanking it to move down. Then Crap again. A Big wave came in hit me and pushed the big fin under the protruding ledge. ” Free spool,free spool ” I screamed at Jaws the fish and line were at a horrible angle and I thought that it was all over, so close and yet so far away.
But “Bingo” as the big wave swept back, after what seemed like hours the big fin came out from under the ledge and would you believe it, the line was still in tact. Jaws wound like a man possessed to gain the slack line and the monster fin was floundering in the wash. As the line came back onto the reel I nearly died the line was shredded and all curly. “I can’t see your double Jaws” I said. His reply stunned me, “What double” . He never bothered to tie a double, how the line held together scraping under the ledge is beyond me. It does say a lot for Tortue line though.
I would get one crack at this or it was all over rover. With everything he had in him good old Jaws fought the big fish across to where I was on the tiny ledge. As it glided past I hit it with everything I had. The gaff went in the shoulder in front of the dorsal fin.
Talk about letting the cat out amongst the pigeons. The big fin objected to having an 8″ flyer planted in it’s back and tried to take off with me still hanging on. “Grab the pole grab the pole” I yelled and Lash did well as he was holding my safety rope with the Foss man as well. Man that fish kicked and pulled but thank God the gaff hung in.
Now the hard bit, pulling the fish up to the safety of the upper ledge took a lot of grunting and moaning until the massive yellowfin was up on the ledge. Jaws knackered, Lash and Foss hooting and screaming and me, well lets say I was glad to be up stairs on the safety of the upper ledge with the lads and only a few grazes on my legs and cuts on my hands and very very wet as the pics show, oops don’t look too close eh!
The mandatory pics, handshakes and jibes about the lads not fishing to get the bung and we were packing up to get ready to get this Big Fin topside. I went topside with Lash. Fossil and Jaws stayed with the big fish and the gear rope. Before going top side I put the big flyer through the eye sockets of the tuna and that was where we would pull it up from. The hook cannot pull through owing to the skull and eye socket bone.
With the tuna ready I tied the gear rope to my bull bar and started reversing, up she came. A few feet from the top Lash stopped me and we hooked a rope we had placed on the tail with our fixed gaff. I reversed more until I cold see the head of the fish just below the roller on the end of the jib. Lash had the tail rope and as I moved slowly fwd Lash pulled the big fish backward onto the cliff top. Once it was safe and sound we pulled the gear up and waited for Jaws and Fossil to get topside with us.
From there we headed to the bowling club where we weighed Jaws yellowfin. Needless to say people could not believe it came off the stones. Then the long lonely trip back home for me wondering what might have been if I had fished on my own that day. I’ll never know.