The flies. Oh god! the flies


I pack up my gear from my temporary beach-home and drop down to the very tip of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. I pay the entry fee for Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, where I’ve been told I can find an old mining jetty, with some easy fishing.

I take a wrong turn and end up at Little Emu Beach, and as if pre-booked by the Australian Tourist Board, a group of the eponymous flightless birds cross the path.

Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae
Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae

I check the map and re-route to Stenhouse Bay jetty. I get out of the car and the flies swarm. My partner goes for a walk whilst I fish. I see her disappear over a hill, swinging her jacket around her head in a futile defence. I walk down the short path to the jetty itself. I’m sure the smell of by-now several-day-old cockles is not helping with the fly situation.

The skies are also strangely full of dragonflies. Thousands of them; I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Stenhouse Bay Jetty, showing the entrance to the gypsum mine near the start of the jetty

I set up my single-hooked rig with the stinky cockles and drop the bait down the side of the jetty pilings. I don’t have to wait too long before a bite. I reel in the small fish and see the now-familiar brownspotted wrasse. It’s a little larger than my previous catches, and is maybe on the pathway to changing into a male fish, as these strange fish do over their lifecycle.

Brownspotted Wrasse, Notolabrus parilus
Brownspotted Wrasse, Notolabrus parilus

A young girl comes over to ask about my catch. I show here the wrasse. “Can you eat it?” she asks. This reminds me of when my Australian relatives were fishing off our boat in Wales. They’d ask “Can you eat it?” with every species we caught. Australian anglers are mainly fishing for the table it seems to me.

I catch a couple more of these wrasse. Is there any other species here? I cast a little further away from the jetty, to target some other species over the clean sand, but its to be just the wrasse today.

Total Catch:

  • 3 Brownspotted Wrasse