Every fisherman has at least one 'special spot' where they take no one else. As a local I have many special places that I dont share, I'm even careful when taking photos not to show anything that would give up the locations.
One such place only fishes at night on a rising tide above 2.6metres, I always fish this spot with my mate Les who is the only other person who knows about it.
We always either do very well here with big fish galore or we get nothing at all..*The very spot, looking East across the Spencer Gulf to the other side 20km away. This photo was taken right on sunset with the setting sun behind me.
Late one evening we were fishing our spot and getting nothing at all. The sea was flat calm with no wind (possibly why we were catching nothing) The moon was rising over the hills on the opposite side of the Gulf 20km away and shining low across the water making every ripple visible for hundreds of meters, a very comforting vista indeed.
It had been a hot day so we were standing ankle deep in the cool water, the tide had gone out and was now coming back in, making it necessary to take a few steps back every half hour or so. As usual I changed my baits every ten minutes, cutting up the old bait and dropping at my feet to help bring in the fish..*This large Flathead posed for this one photo and was soon on her way. All Flathead this size are breeding females and we make it a rule to put them back to continue breeding.
It was so quiet and peaceful that I was drifting off to sleep even while standing there, I looked across at Les 20 meters away and he appeared to be asleep on his feet as well.
It had been some time since I'd summoned up the energy to step backward so I was over knee deep in the inky blackness of the rocky foreshore before us.
I knew there were fish out there as every now and then I could feel the rubbing of a fish as it swam past my taught fishing line, I was looking out to sea watching the moonlight flit on the tiny ripples when something caught my eye just to my right; I turned my head slightly and in the shallow moonlit water before me I saw the large mottled tail of a four foot shark about four feet from my legs.
I screamed like a girl and cracked a JC*.
Water splashed everywhere, Les nearly fell over from the shock of it all and I didn't stop running until I was well away from any possibility whatsoever of being dragged screaming back into the water.*This is all you ever see of a Fiddler until it takes off from under your feet (very scary) or worse...flaps about pinned down by your foot. I say it's scary because we have a lot of common Stingrays which can do you a lot of damage and even Electric Rays...60,000volts anyone? It takes a few seconds of dread fear before you know what you've stepped on.
Les regained his composure and looked at me like I'd completely lost my mind, I gabbled a bit about huge sharks but just came across as a babbling nutter.
Eventually my heartbeat slowed to near normal and sanity began to creep back into my mind... but the fishing was over, any big fish would surely have been scared away by my indiscretion and we were no longer relaxed.
We began slowly packing up to go home, as I cut my remaining bait into pieces and threw it into the sea near where I'd been standing the 'shark' came back in and started picking up the pieces. It was a huge Fiddler Ray, a relative of the Shovel Nosed Shark and completely harmless.
Ive been catching these plentiful rays by hand and letting them go since I was a kid, the trick is to step on the flap of the ray so it cant swim away then simply pick it up by the tail; a neat trick taught to me by my father many, many years ago. You can eat them, but I've never been able to bring myself to kill one.* This is a small Fiddler but the photo shows the tail which looks quite Shark like in the dark... it was a good thing I was wearing my brown underpants that night...
This one was without a doubt the biggest Fiddler I'd ever seen at around four and a half feet, but I hadn't seen the broad flat head of the beast, only the tail which looked like the tail of any of the common sharks here abouts.
At least Les saw the shark and knew I wasn’t losing my mind…just yet!
*Cracking a JC (Jesus Christ) is Aussie slang for 'walking on water'