Before boarding the Ferry to Kangaroo Island, a sign warns visitors not to import certain items that would breach the strong quarantine restrictions set up to protect the island’s agriculture industry and wildlife. Having double checked our luggage for errant honey, potatoes, rabbits and foxes, we made the 45-minute journey from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw.
Of the many fishing spots on the Island, my Australian relatives decided that Vivonne Bay was the place to fish. Our Nissan Patrol barrelled down the dirt road to the jetty, scattering tourists’ Suzuki Swifts out of the way.
Recreational Fishing is Australia’s largest participation sport, and compared to the UK the local authorities seem happy to help. There’s the ‘SA Recreational Fishing Guide’ App for your phone which gives a guide to fishing regulations with regular updates, and many fishing spots have fish measuring stations with pictures of local species, minimum landing size and other and restrictions.
We had a selection of small rods, ideally suited to float fishing for the Australian Herring or Tommy Ruff. I’d caught one of these small fish before on a previous trip to South Australia, so opted to try for some new species. In the clear blue water, I could see many fish swimming around the pilings of the jetty and nearby weed beds.
We’d bought some ‘cockles’ (the local name for a small clam, different to British cockles) and squid for bait, and I used these both on small size-10-ish hooks. Dropping the bait down the side of the jetty I was instantly rewarded with rattling bites. The fish managed to rob the soft-fleshed cockles from the hook, and I had to re-bait several times, before I could set the hook. The fish was clearly a small wrasse, and with a little online research later, I was able to identify it as a juvenile female Brownspotted Wrasse. The males (into which the females change as they age) look quite different. I took five more of this species, squid lasting longer on the hook, and leading to more hook-ups.
In the same way, I caught a couple of strikingly marked Zebrafish, which were surprisingly strong fighters on the light tackle.
A pair of sea lions – one of the draws to the island – showed off by porpoising under our jetty. The fishing went a bit quiet for a while after this.
In an attempt to vary the species tally, I made one cast away from the jetty, towards a weed-bed. I felt some resistance; snagged I thought. I pulled and dragged a clump of weed toward me. As I neared the surface, I realised that the ‘clump of weed’ was in fact quite a large octopus. “Octopus” I shouted. “Er, I’m going to need a hand with this one”. In response the eight-limbed mollusc turned upside down, opened its tentacles showing the rows of suckers, and let go of the bait. I was slightly relieved.
- 6 Brownspotted Wrasse
- 2 Zebrafish