Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Secret Place

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'



Magsx2 said...

Hi Tempo,
If it had of been me I would of been walking on water as well.

When I first starting reading about your fishing trip, and then dusk fell, and you were in deeper water, the first thing I thought of was a shark. I bet the old heart was pumping fast that night.

A beautiful catch, it was a shame it was a female flatty.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me, you are right
Merry Christmas! :)

Windsmoke. said...

Never could get the hang of fishing don't know why. Maybe what happened to you is the reason :-).

Belle said...

I wouldn't be able to fish if there were sharks nearby. I know there are lots in Australia. That would have scared me to death. The ray is very beautiful, it is no wonder you can't kill one.

Tempo said...

Hi Mags, It does sometimes cross my mind that full grown sharks can snatch Seals off the beach...when it does I take a few steps backward. I've specialized in catching Flathead, not only are they excellent eating but a very interesting fish. The more I learn about them the less inclined I am to actually eat them.

Hi Windsmoke, fishing's not about catching fish, it's about getting out of the house and being outside. The catching of fish is icing on the cake.

Hi Belle, The largest Great White Sharks in the world come from our waters. If we were going to avoid sharks we wouldn't be able to go near the water at all. Not only are the rays quite striking but harmless, you can simply pick them up, check them out and put them back.

Joe Pereira said...

Ah, nothing beats a fishing session. As a hobby I even prefer it to music. Fishing costs me money, music pays me money, but still.

Some strange and wonderful species in your part of the ocean!

Sarah said...

I'm not a fisher-person myself but have loved to go along with those that are (I read & paddle the canoe to new spots, anyways).

"cracking a JC" I like that; you Aussies have the neatest slang.

Pearl said...

I don't know if I could handle Australia. :-) I think I would do a lot of screaming, initially!


Tempo said...

Hi Joe, considering where you come from I would expect you to be a fellow fisher, theres nothing to beat it.

Hi Sarah, It's all good fun whether you fish or not. It's about getting away from the rat race and enjoying life. I'm filling a file with Aussie slang for a post sometime in the future.

Hi Pearl, Thats how we know the locals from tourists...the tourists are always screaming... they always love it though...(except the ones that get killed)

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Tis a magnificent fish as is the beard on that fisherman. This is why I am so afraid of the water. There are just too many things living in the water that don't respect my personal space.

Tempo said...

Hey Cal, That's actually me in that photo...I know I haven't posted many pictures of myself on this blog but there I am in an Aussie mid winter fishing trip. My usual fishing wear is bare feet, shorts and T-shirt. It had to be really cold to force me into a coat and beanie.

malcfifty said...

Hi Tempo, My experience of fishing in the 1970s was, stop the boat, throw out a line, open a stubbie, ... when the stubbie was finished, move to another spot and repeat the steps. We didn't catch a lot of fish, but usually had an enjoyable outing.

The sharks in North Queensland waters are plentiful, but usually not as aggressive as your South Australian ones, by all accounts. In recent years, it appears the most/worst shark attacks seem to be happening in Western Australia. I make this statement on anecdotal records only, and haven't made a scientific study on the subject. Somehow, I don't think the different states will fight for the title of which has the most dangerous sharks.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Well, my friend, that beard is worthy of celebratin at the 'Cave of Cool'. Some of the ladies that follow me would love that.

Tempo said...

Fishing is what you make of it Malcfifty, you wanted a relaxing time at the water and thats exactly what you got. Truth be told most fishers go fishing to get away from the house and the family (note I didnt say 'wife')
The big cold water sharks like the Great White are the most dangerous because they tackle much bigger prey like whales and seals so they hit hard and do a lot of damage, QLD sharks are smaller and feed on fish which are much less likely to be confused up with humans in wetsuits. The WA sharks are the very same sharks that we have, they can be tracked as they migrate back and forth, West Australian has a growing population are only now using the water more and so there is a big increase in attacks...they are welcome to the title of most nasty long as come collect all 'their' sharks and keep them on the right side of the border.

Hey Cal, thanks for the complement and the posting on your great blog. Thats why I commented on your beard...we gots to stick together bro..
I find that women are scared of men with beards..or is that just Aussie women? Hmm!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Well the girls on their motocycles like to buzz the house when they see me on the front stoop.

Tempo said...

Living up your way I expect the beard would be a good bit of winter kit for warming the face...I assume there are a lot more bearded Canadians (stereotype added) that there would be here in hot Australia.

Jenn June said...

I love the photos you shared. This post brings back some cool memories for me. I did a lot of fishing with my dad and grandfather growing up near the great lakes in Michigan. NO sharks and no stingrays either! That would freak me a little. The scariest experience I ever had was being chased by a crayfish, we called them "crawdaddies," they're basically just little lobster looking fish with big snappy claws. I was about ten years old and I still remember being scared of that thing, lol.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

It generally just an excuse not to shave. It's why I like you style. Even in the heat you let it grow. It's very Hemmingway and very cool. Just continue clearing out all those stupid fish that live too close to shore. We have to draw the line somewhere.

Tempo said...

Hi Jenn June and welcome, Did you get into trouble for allowing that crayfish to escape? LOL I understand theyre good to eat.

Hi Cal, Sadly the fish are becoming scarce here as well as every where else. Greed comes into it again with pro fishers taking everything they can catch and governments happy to take the tax revenue at the expense of the locals and environment. We have the cleanest waters on the globe and our fish are among the very best, fetching huge prices at the best restaurants, the problem there is that we locals can no longer afford our own fish...