Every year I give myself a soft target of catching a dozen new species. This, of course, gets harder year on year, and necessitates some foreign fishing trips to augment the remaining un-caught British Species. So far in 2016, I was only on a tally of eight species, and this was the last day of the year. But being in Australia meant that pretty much anything I could catch would be a new species.
A half-day’s fishing trip with the family was the last chance to bag a few more. The charter boat was booked and at 6:15 a.m. sharp we were at the dock.
Nine miles offshore we arrived at our first mark over a shallow reef. A group of dolphins was already in residence. They would affect fishing for snook I was told, but not the Snapper and King George Whiting – our two target species at this location. I baited up the two small hooks on my rig with squid. Others with larger hooked rigs, threaded on chunks of Tommy Ruff, hoping to catch Snapper. I had trouble keeping bottom with the small lead. Laughably small when compared to the 8oz+ weights I user in the stronger tidal flow off Wales. I requested a slightly larger sinker from the skipper, which gave me the necessary depth. A few bites resulted, but I couldn’t connect with a fish. The deckhand caught a small pink scaled snapper, which was returned, but otherwise no fish for any of the crew or passengers. After an hour or so with no results, we moved onto another mark to troll for Snook. I was unsure what exactly a ‘snook’ was, but any fish would be welcome right now.
We stowed our baited rods and the deckhand set up a hand-line on each side of the boat. A two inch silver lure was kept at the right depth with the use of a paravane. When a fish takes the lure, the paravane ‘trips’ and is visible on the surface.
The younger members of the crew took their turn to begin with, and caught a small Snook. It was little bigger than the Garfish I see in the UK. I took my place next to the handline. I concentrated on the sea astern where I thought the lure would be. I saw the yellow of the paravane and started pulling on the handline. The excitement was too much for the others and more hands joined in the hauling. A respectably sized snook was lifted aboard. At about a metre long the skipper told me this is about as big as they come. I examined the fish up close. It looked very much like a barracuda I remarked. (I later learned this was indeed a member of the barracuda family; ‘snook’ being the local name for the Australian Barracuda).
This fish was skinned – as is necessary for this species – and put on the barbecue for dinner. So no fairy-tale ending with a dozen new species for 2016, but nevertheless a good catch to round off the year.
- 1 Australian Barracuda (Snook)