Back in 86 I was getting ready for my first trip to WA. I had just bought my new Hilux 4WD and was trying to find out as much as possible about this place in WA known as “The Blows”. With all the expectations of going west, I had still managed not to miss a trip to The Gorge all season.
Hippie Frank had landed a “Thumper “ of a fin a few weeks earlier around the 200 plus so I was keen to be on the stones early and have a bait in the drink before day break (Another Tuna Theory)
My fishing partner in crime Jock was tied up with work commitments and I had already rung another friend Johnny Favorito in Sydney to see if he was keen to fish The Gorge. John was a no nonsense fisho and could put it to a fish as good as anyone.
John gave my nephew David known to many as “Gilbert” a lift down as he wanted to fish as well. He was keen as mustard to put in the long hours and early starts.
Family and me in those days was like a flagon to a wineo just not good a good mix. But I thought “I can cope for a weekend” and so “Uncle Bob” was taking Gilbert to the Gorge.
I was living on my block of land down here then and when he and Johnny rocked up at 2.00am we high tailed it out to the range. When the two 4WD’s pulled up we were rapt not another car in sight.
It was April and the days had still been pretty warm and the nights were starting to cool down. Getting out of the car the air was cool but there was a sense of expectancy in the air.
Packs on and meandering through the twisted bush and onto the rocks that lead from the North side to the South side was done in 10 mins but now the bit I always hated, we had to cross the mud track. When you walked on this it would move under your feet. The only thing holding it together was the plant roots.
Putting that behind us we raced and I do mean raced around to the part where one would go down a small rock climb and the other would pass our packs down. Packs on and around the corner to the “Slime Ledge, this was another one of my not so favourite places. A very slow and deliberate walk along the ledge saw us again running to climb down onto the ledge that was the best ledge on the front to fish in my opinion.
Burly in and bait rods rigged and it was only 3.30am. A clear night on that ledge with a bit of moon made you feel like you were on another planet.
Sun coming up and only 4 baits had me in a spin. The young fella had a 6/0 Sealine and Ironglass rod I think it was a GH13 cut down.
He got his bait in first while we were still frantically trying to get more yakkas. In our desperation to get bait John and I did not notice that four more people were rigging up behind us. Grhhhhhhh !!!! “Man I thought why don’t they just take off ”. Too late for them to get baits I thought. The thing I hadn’t seen was they were putting their baits they had carried in into an inflatable pool.
When I had a good look at those “Other” people I discovered that they were friends of mine Olie, Col, Ingrid and Big Ernie. We yelled out “G’day” but kept fishing for baits, no luck though. Three of us and four baits, Ouch !
Johnny and I called it quits and decided to rig up and spin, so much for having a bait in the water before sunrise. John had a 6/0 Everol and Killwell rod loaded with 50, while I used a Shimano 50W and trusty GH14 cut down to take an 18 roller tip.
Gilbert was away from us watching his bait in the wash it did not want to swim out. Meanwhile the guys had started spinning already and were hooked up on some nice mack tuna.
It wasn’t long before we were all hooked up and the hooting and yelling was well and truly happening. The macks were about 2kg so John and I decided to put 10/0 hooks on and swim them out as baits and save the precious yakkas.
Man those suckers are hard to pull back to free swim them out again and again. It was 8.00am and nothing had gone off so we decided to get brekkie.
Looking over to the north I could see Gilbert sitting on the ledge I thought I’ll see what he’s up to. I wanted to kill him his first yakka died so he just went back and took another and put it out. Man I wished he weren’t a kid I thought to myself. John was spewing but the damage was done.
Hippie Frank and Neil Harvey were next to turn up. Well what can you do I thought at least all the people here know what they are doing. Tales of Franks monster Fin were thick and fast over coffee and sanga’s.
Eleven o’clock and nothing had happened fin wise that is. Still ticked off at Gilbert John and I wanted to wait until an hour before the tide change before we would put our baits out.
Young David got on well with most people but he wasn’t related to them and that helped heaps. Looking back he was just a teenager trying to impress his “Uncle Bob” wished he wouldn’t of. For the record Dave is 38 now. Man I’m old.
Between spinning for frigates or what ever, sleeping , talking and the usual it’s not happening today stuff that one does on the rocks Gilbert decided to cut up one of the dead macks and fish the wash at the Caldron. “Bob, Bob look” he yelled a 3lb trevally hanging off his hook. I got him to throw it into the big rock pool while John and I rigged up to have some fun and get “More Baits”.
We donged the Trevs and had heaps of live bait now and it was only 12.30. I put a yakka out as did John after all we had heaps of bait now. Col cut a fair slab of one of his macks and put it out under a balloon for a shark bait. It was like someone had turned on a switch all of us were firing on all cylinders. Crazy one blurter and presto we come back to life, crazy.
Cols Inter started screaming within 10 mins of him putting the dog clip on. Every one thinking “Shark” .T o our surprise it came in pretty easy for a “Shark”. You guessed it , no shark but a 12lb Red on a big shark bait. Great bi catch.
Gilbert had pinned a trevally and to his surprise it was siting about 80mts off the Caldron the wash holding it out nicely. Mine and Johns baits were out off North Gorge. Frank and Neil were content to fish for reds and spin and everyone was enjoying the afternoon.
About 1.30 and all hell broke loose we heard the scream of a reel but noone knew whose. It was Gilberts. Running to the south end of the ledge, he picked up his rod and I told him to strike it straight away what ever it was had his reel in Hyper Drive and emptying at the rate of knots.
The poor kid did not know what to do except hold on. The side plates of the reel were red hot, Sealines are not meant to handle that much pressure. We poured water on it to cool it down and hoped it would hold together.
I told him to let it do it’s thing and it would do one of two things. Bite you off it’s a shark or stop sulk and arc out wide if a tuna. It did stop and it did arc. The gear was light but if he could stay in control of his emotions and pain he was a good chance I thought. Col, Frank, and John were giving him moral support while I literally had to support him.
The light rod made it hard as did a reel that he had not looked after too well. The fish headed North and that always worries me on the Gorge as there is a reef off the North end. I told him to run to the point and try to turn its head.
Man the young bloke was spent after 20mins. I virtually had to pull him along but he did well there wasn’t that much of him.
He turned the fish but it stayed wide and sulked in the current. My old saying came to mind. “Pop him or stop him” I told Gilbert he would need to up the anty if he was going to get this fish. He was knackered and sat down with the rod between his legs jammed into a hole on the ledge.
I screamed at him “Get up and fight this #%#@$$%” thing” his reply ticked me off even more. “ I can’t, I need to rest, it hurts and on and on”
I regret what happened next but if I had not done it this story would not have come to be. I told him to stop being a woos and grow some balls and fight. He told me to %%$#@* OFF.
I gave him a smack across the face and told him I was ashamed to call him my nephew. He had no fight in him and he should just break the fish off because he was not worthy to fish for such a majestic fish.
I know what you must be thinking but he needed to get mad and angry to fight that big fish and who better to get angry at than me.
Well that did the trick “I’ll F#@*^^%* show you who’s weak” he cried and I got behind him and lifted him up. “You need to go for broke Gil or your done, You need to get him back toward the Caldron and that will be a safer place to gaff him as well. I guess it was about one and half hours and big John was getting the fixed gaff ready and Col was getting his one as well.
About 50mts off the Caldron gave us our first glimpse of tis big fish. We saw the big sickles cutting the water like a knife and were speechless. We all knew that this was well over the hundred and would need at least two gaffs in it.
Exhausted, sore, and angry at his Grumpy Uncle young Gilbert got the wobbles in his legs when he saw how big this fish was that nearly broke him emotionally and physically. “Don’t miss it John” he yelled. Holding him up I whispered in his ear. “Trust him he won’t loose it on ya now, not after all this”
Getting Dave nearer to the edge so as to try avoid the line catching the rocks was a bit of an effort even with me holding him. He was knackered totally but the fish wasn’t.
As the fish came into gaff range it lunged down in one last attempt to get free. With every thing in him the young bloke held on, I held on and everyone else held their breath. The fish came up and I got Gil to put as much side pressure as possible on him. It worked the fin started to glide toward the ledge and Big John and the gaff.
Like a sharp shooter the big fella pinned the fish behind the head and held it until Col came in with the second gaff nearer the tail. Ernie got a tail rope on it and everyone heaved.
When the fish was up and away from the edge Pandemonium broke loose tears, shouts, jumping up and down screaming hooting it was all happening.
For everyone except me. I felt pretty bad what I did and said but it needed to be done. I guess as I walked up to roll a smoke I was sulking wondering what everyone thought of me “That bad angry bloke who gave it to his nephew” , what a gut wrenching feeling to have at such a happy time. I still live with it sometimes.
The young bloke came over tome and said thanks but I never answered. I guess I had to settle what had happened in my own head.
Not only does LBG mess with our lives but our heads as well at times.
I suggested we go to Callala Bay to get some ropes so we could drag this monster up the 200ft cliff . Gil came with me in the Hilux while everyone else kept you guessed it , FISHED.
The young bloke and I talked about the avro and it’s events as we drove and I explained that I had to do what I did or he would not have got the fish, he agreed.
As we approached Currarong I saw this helicopter flying low and heading to the village. As we got to the tar I saw it land on a vacant block behind an old house. Bingo I thought, I drove over and with the blades still spinning I told the pilot of what had happened on the Gorge and asked if he would be able to help us to lift the big fish out. He said no worries he just wanted to see it.
Great we thought but then it happened. His big Dragon Lady wife came out whingeing about we should pay him. He kept saying to shut up he wanted to see a big fish. She won.
I left him my good Seiko Divers watch as deposit and told him I would get $50 back to him the next day (Monday).
I organised for young David to wait at the old target plane and to wave his yellow shirt as the chopper flew over with the fin. I would run back to the Gorge with ropes and put the fish on the chopper. The pilot was happy with that.
By the time I got back to the Gorge I could not believe it . A helicopter actually sitting on Devils Gorge. Bull S#@*% I thought if I had not seen it I would not believe it.
A group discussion had us wrapping the Yellowfin in a blue tarp and tying it up with the good old faithful Telecom rope. With the Helicopter hovering about 6ft in the air we attached the rope to the skid opposite the pilot to try and compensate the fishes weight with his.
As he lifted off to go to the plane and a very happy young man I nearly died. As he lifted off one of the ropes we tied was not the same length as the other and so the whole weight of the fish was on one piece of rope. If that had snapped, “And down came chopper, tuna and all “ is that a nursery rhyme.
We all packed up it was getting late. We met David at the plane and went to the bowling club to weigh the fish. It came in at 132lb