Wilderness 2015

Originally posted to Yakfishwest May 2015

** Contains a picture of a man who has since passed away. RIP John “Jackman” Louis

 

Preface: I am a ‘ring in.’ A fisherman for sure, but I don’t own a yak. I get the call up to the team again for my professional ability as a chef. I don’t take that lightly, as I know Jim and Kim must be quite capable of catering for every other charter they do through the year, so it is an honour that I go in that role.

Friday 10 April

Put in a solid 6 hours at work before getting out around 130.
Home and loaded the car with all the pre packed gear, last on was Carmel’s kayak which Brett had asked me to transport for her as he only had space for his PA.
Waved good bye to wifey and son at around 4 and didnt stop until Eneabba. The servo had just closed (7.03pm) so a quick walk around and some frantic texting/emailing/calling to scotty who had just found out that the wholesale shop closes at 12 on saturday and I, who was supposed to do the shopping, wasnt getting in to exmouth until around 2! Shopping list sent, back on the road again, passing the 300,000k mark in my beloved Subi just past S-bend and rolling in to my step-aunties (who I had never met before) on the northern side of Gero just before 9pm.

Saturday 11 April

I woke around 430, half an hour before my alarm and was back on the road by 5.
Just coffee and a stretch at billabong.
Fuel light came on about 40k’s short of Carnarvon… I knew it would be close, but didnt know how much the drag of a yak on the roof would change consumption. Fortunately I made it.
Just fuel and back on the road.
Being only around 1pm I had plans to stop at learmonth jetty for a look and hopefully to open the account, but missed the turn as Olwyn had flattened the sign. Not to worry, better to get into town, find the fellas and relax.
Around 230, the man who would be my roommate for the night at the novotel, Glen, turned up. Glen travelled further than the rest of us: all the way from Singapore. Clearly a man looking for an adventure.
Around 4 I decided to have a spin from the marina wall. Glen was clearly skeptical, as he brought only a camera.
Mine was a good call and I quickly nailed a couple of small brassys and queenies with the action hot to trot on anything retrieved fast.

Brassy

Glen ducked back to get a rod and the action slowed a little. With a bit of coaching on what I call “northwest style” Ie forget finesse just get something shiny and move it fast, Glen was getting hits to, but failed to connect.
Turning my attention to one obvious boulder just off the wall, I picked up a procession of bream and a chunky little cod to close out the session. The jacks were there, shadowing hooked fish, but not interested in my offerings. All great fun on 8lb gear.

Dinner with all the crew for the week at the potshot, and many tales of how incredible the previous week had been for those who had made the early trip had us all heading back to the hotel for an early night.

Sunday 12th April

To the non local, me,it looked like we should be up and at them on sunday morning, but the lack of haste from Scott, Brett or Jim showed something was up, and that something was the wind.
Apparently
So we pottered around, had some breaky, last runs to the tackle and bottle shops, loaded the boat and watched some footy.

Load exxy

Just after midday the “It’s not gonna get any better” call came through and we hit the water in what looked like fairly tame conditions at the marina.
Glen looked somewhat bemused that we were heading out on a boat with barely 30cm of freeboard, but we reassured him with statements like “We do this sort of thing all the time in Australia” :lol:
Jim pushed the throttle down to get us on the plane while still in the marina and the reason become evident as we passed through the heads and it was a little lumpy out side.

When the alarm started sounding from the console, I am sure Glen thought this was going to be the last photo ever taken of him.
Classic Jim style, taps the screen a few times which stopped the alarm, and off we went again.
Yep, we do this all the time in Australia.
That alarm went off 3 more times, but Jim assured us that it was just salt water getting in and shorting it out.
Whatever, just get us to the island.
After a quick briefing on general camp rules, everyone set about unpacking and setting themselves up for the week. I scored a bed in the closest cabin, sharing with Scotty and Vandy. Not bad methinks.
A mix up with the bucher meant the mince that was supposed to be for that nigh, was frozen solid, but fortunately Jim had an amazing looking scotch fillet aging in his fridge, so BBq to kick things off.
As an aside, Jimbo clearly knows a bit about meat. He ran me through the whole process of how he dry ages his beef in a normal home fridge and the results, as the fellas will testify are fantastic.
Scotch fillet, Potato salad, crunchy noodle salad and beer braised onions, we were off to a flyer.

Dinner

Monday 13th April

Day one.
Bacon and eggs for breaky.
Most people hit the water pretty early, but with the wind up a bit they all went north and into the creeks.
As did I, but I was on foot. The stories were that John had picked up SEVERAL barra from a creek that I could access on foot and with that almost my sole though I wanted to get there before there was too much water as that would stop me getting to the good snags.
I caught the usual procession of whiting and bream on the walk, but nothing particularly substantial. When I got to the creek, the sand spit out the front was a moving carpet of ghost crabs. I unsuccessfully used a few as bait.
No barra.
Some cracking hits from energetic jacks, bream and flag off a small bommie as the water was just getting to the rocks on the north end of the island on the way back. Big airborne smashes, good fun.
But most exciting was the silver stalker. Quite certain it was a barra which stalked several casts of the popper but couldn’t entice a hookup. Made me late back to camp to make lunch. Not that it mattered as there wouldnt have been enough water to get to the crew any earlier anyway.
Intended to have steak or sausage wraps for lunch, but everything was demolished the night before so no left overs! Ham and cheese I think in the end…

The crew had similar stories to me, nothing extraordinary, but plenty of medium size fish keeping everyone occupied in and around the creeks.
Jim showed off the ‘new’ motors on the boat to me on the way back, man that thing can fly on a glassed off creek!

We also briefly check the mud crab flat, but no change since Jim last checked it, all silted up after Olwyn. That put an end to any plans of mud crab night.

By the evening it was blowing its bits off and contingency plans were being formulated.

Corned beef with all the trimmings if memory serves correctly, colcannon style mashed potato, grain mustard white sauce, carrots with honey like nanna makes… mmmm

Tuesday 14th

Wierd thing about Wilderness is I can never tell when the wind/water is like from my bed.  I thought it sounded great so I got up with my alarm nice and early expecting the crew to want an early start.
Turns out, it was not so great.
It was evident that this would be at best a late start so I got on to the slowest breakfast for the week: Pancakes. Complete with berries and custard.

Over these, the lads decided it would be a good day for a whiting competition. Teams were picked via a draw the stubbie holder from the bag method. I was on the team drawing the WI custom stubbie holders donated by Glen, we also had Vandy, Dunc, Jarman John. The team catch cry of BAAAH HUMBUG chosen due to our having the ‘old men’ Glen and John challenged HEAST HERF of Scott, Brett and co, despite some obvious infighting about the name making them sound unintelligent.
Since we all love a feed of whiting, we were playing for dinner, anything over 28cm to be kept, biggest bag by number wins. Losers serve winners drinks for the evening.

We had a great time with the whiting masters Glen and John and got into fish on the closest corner of the island before the cheating scoundrels blew past us on the 4 wheeler to get to the further end of the flats.
Many many whiting taken, tactics and plans formulated and reformulated as the tide bottomed and returned. The biggest leaning curve went to Dunc who was formerly uninitiated in this form of fishing but with coaching and borrowed lures was catching fish like the rest of us soon enough.
Tiny ones…

Dunc fingermark

and also a very large longtom that actually gave him some serious curry on the light gear before eventually self releasing to save him the point you get just for catching one.

On the way back with the tide on the rise I found some big bream over a patch of broken ground that made for half an our or so of great fun on 4lb gear. By the time I finished there was only one point left on each of the trebles on the little sub dog I was using.
Terrible photo sorry, but one handed, wading, using a phone to take photos… is not easy.

Bream

The indent on the foam is 25cm from the bottom of the rod for reference.

While the counting was being done a few of us had fun with a reasonable cod a couple of jacks and a big school of bream in a tiny deep hole that formed around a rock on the point. Despite Scotts protest that many of our fish were undersize (They werent) team BAAAH HUMBUG substantially won the day. I dont remember the final count but we had more than twice as many keepers as they did.

Back to camp for lunch, again, with everyone hanging around I decided to forgo the standard wraps and instead knocked up some pizzas using, among other things, some ‘ding sausage’ provided by Wayne. Excellent.

After lunch nearly everyone headed for the south point on foot.
I was walking away after talking to John who was trying to get a few more whiting, by his reckoning we needed 3 per person for a meal and we didnt have that when my 8cm berkly deep diver got hit. I was chasing queenies, I got about 34cm of angry whiting! What those little beggars will hit when they are hungry!

Glen was wand waving from the furthest rock, Hoolly was dropping cranka crabs on jacks, Wayne was throwing into the deep out the front…
I got smoked twice, the first on an unsighted fish (though I would be pretty comfortable calling cod) on that deep diver, and then by a big jack when I was dropping a fuze paddletail straight down off the end rock where Glen was. So much fun in the crystal clear water.

Spaghetti bolognaise for dinner I think, but what was to come after that was truly special and unprecedented:
In marches the winning team for a victory parade led by Dunc on his bagpipes. Merriment and celebrations.
One of you beer wenches from the losing team fetch me a beer!
Thus ends day 2

Was a late start for most as the wind was supposed to drop off around 930, but with everyone champing at the bit to get offshore some slugged it out into the sou wester a bit earlier across to Burnside. I was a late addition when I realised Carmel wasnt going out so I grabbed her kayak. Lunch prep done I jumped in the stock revo and slugged it out.
I got a small gt which bricked me. After some struggling I eventually broke it off, but could still see the fish tethered to the reef. Unfortunately my attempts to loop the line with a paddle only dislodged it and I had to watch as it slowly swam away with my lure clearly visible in its mouth.
Bugger.
It was when I got out to the rest of the crew out the end of the bar that all hell broke loose.
As I approached you could hear the Coghlan catching call, as anyone who has fished with him knows. I guessed GT or tuna as the crew were gathering and they don’t get that excited about queenies.

When I got close enough to make out the frame of an enormous giant herring.

Scott herring

I left them to their photos and got into it. Maybe half an hour later I was almost ready to swap lures as my hamma wouldn’t swim straight (I’m told I was working it too fast) when twitch, bump, slack line, twitch, weight, lots of weight heading to the back of the yak, crash splash zzzzzzzzzzzz, yep I’m into one to!
The jumps were more reminiscent of a salmon as the sheer girth of these monsters kept them low, I slugged it out for about 5 minutes on 15lb and a 2500 rarenium with Scotty in close pursuit camera in hand. I called it coming up so Scotty could ready the camera but misjudged how deep it was and keeping too much tension it busted me off on the jump, leaving me with a shredded 30lb leader, sore shoulder and so pumped to get back into it. This is that shot… Thanks Scotty, better than nothing!

Herring

Over the next hour there were at least 8 hooked (Scotty dropping 2 more) a couple of double hook ups and 3 fish brought to the yak between 8 anglers. As you can see these were genuine giant, giant herring, all around the 1.2m mark and solid. There were a few other fish amongst them, including a good size golden to Brett, and this nice queenie to singapore Glen

Glen queenie

 

Glenn GH

Average GT that was destined to be eaten

GT

Plus a new species to my list, a pennant fish (correct me if I am wrong)

pennant

The trip back was much easier, using the wind and swell to drive and the rudder to maintain position relative to the reef edge casting as I went.
On the way back I watched as Hoolly tried to lift the biggest queenie I have ever seen into his yak by the leader. He shouted a few expletives when it broke…

And then while re rigging he caught the rip cord of his PFD on something setting it off scaring the shizz outta me, so I can only imagine his reaction.

I had a dugong surface only a few meters from the yak and promptly disappear when I tried to follow it for a photo.

I also had a very large and lit up GT buzz my 70mm viral barely 2 rod lengths from the yak. That would have been short lived!
On the run back up the island trolling that viral I got 3 more brassies around the kilo mark. Good fun, but could have been more if I had swapped back to the 8lb spool.

Pulled the yak up the beach, walked back down to the water and floated for a few minutes, exhausted.

30 or so Battered whiting dont last long around 13 people, also one fillet of that GT, some pickled, some ceviche and the other fillet cured for tomorrow.
And then the main meal, fried rice with red bbq chicken.
Maaaarvelous.

Thursday was a much less fishy day.
I did however get my fish of the trip, a queenie of about 90cm on my first pass through one of the outflows. It was a good fight on 15lb with little room for error having hooked up heading into the current and wind just as the lure passed between the bommies.

After some amateur indecision I made the right call to go with the flow out to open water and complete the capture. Quick pics and swam for a bit before release. It was caught on a crystal minnow I found stuck on a mangrove on monday and re fitted hooks to. It’s now retired to the net above the bar at camp.

Queenie

Queenie2

The rest of the day was hard work with lots of k’s covered by all involved.
Scott got another giant herring and there were several more hooked with one lost at the yak but most hookups being brief.
Brett got 2 golden trevally, and a nice gash on his foot when his queenie landed itself in his yak, caused chaos and got out again. He managed to keep everything together and attached and still landed it.
The afternoon wind drop off made conditions unpleasantly hot and humid.

Roast for dinner with all the trimmings. (Actually I think I have that out of order… oh well it doesnt matter, point is we ate very well!)
Forecast was overcast, low winds and plenty of water movement for our last day, so an early start was planned. Would dreams be made or shattered?

Friday 17 april, final day.

Warm, overcast and windless, most of the guys made the outflows around the top of the tide filled with confidence.
A couple of the guys found reasonable numbers of fish. I was late out and didn’t get a lot.

But, bagged another new species in the form of a Spanish mackerel around 45cm.

Spaniard

Spaniard2

Decided to go and check out the end of Simpson island (since I was almost there already!) and got blown away by a big cod in the shallows. I couldn’t not fish a small sand bar there as a clear drop off with fast moving water was always going to hold fish. It did and I got good aggression from mid size queenies but again couldn’t stick the hooks.
Picked up another small mack on the way back, I think this was a school.

Chased bubbling bait fish for a while and hooked another mack which bit me off soon after I got it close enough for an ID.
Back on what was dubbed “herring highway” and now mid glass off I was a couple of hundred meters from the other guys and found myself among lots of tailing fish. It took a while for anyone to hear me calling them over. I tried trolling and decided that was too hard to get in front of the fish so switched to casting a hamma. It was at least 20 minutes with no result before anyone else came over. They called them as milk fish and with the lack of reaction to any lure I have to agree.
It was a surreal experience though sitting on a glassed off ocean with large dorsal and tails regularly appearing.
I did managed a solid hook up and screaming run but soon lost it and retrieved a clean cut leader. I didn’t think much of it but over the next half hour there were several small to medium sharks hooked and one brought to the yak, which leads me to believe that is what did me.
An hour or so where there was not enough current or wind to move a yak the raft of 9 yaks called it a day for the long paddle home.

I got one final hook up trolling a paddle tail plastic on the end of Burnside. Zzzzzzzzzzzz stop. Paddling back around I found my line running straight to a solitary rock on a sandy bottom. A few more pulls and it parted with an extended length of shredded leader.
Cod’ed.
Bummer.
And that was all she wrote for fishing at WI 2015.

Friday night is traditionally fish night as we devour whatever we have kept from the week. This year, that almost didnt happen as we spent so much time chasing big fast things and not as much chasing tasty red ones. But fortunately Jackman John reluctantly took the posting for the last day to catch us a feed of jacks and did indeed triumph. Add to that Steve Riley of Exmouth tackle and camping supplies, who had come over to provide a second boat for the run back, took Brett and Carmel out and also got a few for the table.
Steve doesnt eat fish but I was very grateful for his willingness to jump in and fillet some for me, along with Vandy and John who processed the jacks.
Perhaps not the feast of fish from other years, but certainly sufficient. Yellow curry, baked with garlic and butter, battered, and the WI special, mangrove jack in ginger wine sauce.
The Pink dress of shame was awarded and we all had a couple of quiet drinks to think over the week.

The trip home is an unfortunate affair. With no choice but to go on the day you are given, the weather can make things interesting.

Load home

2 boats, 9 yaks, 14 people, a weeks worth of gear and unfriendly winds, it was a trip to remember.

Load home2

 

Load home3

 

Glenn John Haji

Hope you enjoyed it.

First blood

What’s it all about?

What About us?

We are searchlights, we can see in the dark
We are rockets, pointed up at the stars
We are billions of beautiful hearts
And you sold us down the river too far
What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?
I like Pink. The singer that is. Not that I’m really opposed to the colour either.
I like the brutal reality of her lyrics. Not that I agree with most of them, on the contrary, much of what she says is entirely opposite to my beliefs, however, a lot of what she says is complete, raw truth of what our society is screaming every day.
I was at a Pink cover artist concert recently and this song stuck with me. (Not that recently anymore, long before COVID-19 even existed in fact!) The reason being that I felt rebuked and reprimanded by it. I’m not sure who she actually aimed these lyrics at, I am guessing it was politicians, but I really feel that society would be more than entitled to direct these thoughts at the church. Certainly the majority of churches in the western world. Those that are based on religion.
How many times have you heard (or said) I tried church, but it didn’t work for me?
Those “on the inside” have a tendency to blame that on the person.
“You didn’t try hard enough.”
“You weren’t committed”
“You didn’t actually want to believe anyway.”
“Don’t be selfish, it’s not about you.”
But what if the problem is not entirely with the world, but the church as well?
As Pink says,
“What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?”
Just about every church made those promises in one way or another.
We said we have answers. Some even said it on enormous billboards.
Come to the church and it will be happy ever after.
There is no point denying it and for God’s sake DON’T stop saying it either!
Deliver!
Are we that weak in our faith that we can tell people that we have the answers, but when they ask what they are, we meekly say “oh, they work for me but probably not for you.”
Are we to ashamed to admit with certainty that God has acted in our lives? Have we got the answers or not?
I believe we have. Well, technically I believe that God has them, but we can point people to Him, but we have failed to actually answer peoples questions.

The Dichotomy

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 – 2:1-8

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[d]

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

 

The Godly way to engage the world, is by introducing them to God. We have pursued arguments, pursued evidence, pursued logic and naturalistic explanations and not simply been witnesses of the Lord. Yes, I am very, repeatedly, inexcusably guilty of this. We try to explain God without invoking the supernatural, that is a logical impossibility. God IS supernatural. To answer Pink’s questions, we can’t point them to a way of life, some rituals, some attitudes and/or behaviours, they are not the answer. We can only point them to Christ. He has the answers. He can give them the answers, the happy ever afters, the plans that don’t end in disaster. By no means am I saying that the answers will be what a person is seeking, but Jesus has the right answers.

There are a few songs around with lyrics to the effect of “the best evidence that I can show you is the change in my life.” We have to let our lives be the testimony to the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. It sounds easy, but it’s terrifying, at least for me it is. That means not just accepting, but announcing, when God has saved me from my own foolishness. That means that everytime I have a wonderful solution to one of lifes difficult problems, I have to humbly give the credit to God.
I haven’t figured this out, God has revealed it to me.
I am not a wonderful human being.
As a murderer, rapist, idoloter, self absorbed narcissistic bigot, but for the grace of God, go I.
And so can you.

Of far more influence than any well worded argument is a personal experience and revelation of the power of Jesus. In fact, I have come to believe that no one comes to Jesus without first personally experiencing His work. That’s not to say that it’s always a big flashy deliverance type experience, in many cases it will be a still small voice. In my case it was like that, a small voice that said “Look at your life, do you really believe it happened by accident?”
To admit that, as part of my testimony to an unbeliever is an invitation to scorn. You can’t base your faith on a thought about a bunch of coincidences! No, I can’t, but I will testify that it was God speaking to me, even though it could just as easily be dismissed. Scorn away. I know it to be true. I know it to be true because of the fruit that came after it. I know every other ‘coincidence’ that I attribute to God’s hand to be true, because I see the fruit that comes after it. Deny it or accept it, that is between you and God, but I will not deny it. 

Most Christians know 1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

As I have written before,  more often than not, my hope for the future is based on looking back at what God has already done for me. All the times He has given me just what I needed when I needed it. My hope is in Christ and His crucifixion and resurrection. That is the right answer to the questions

“What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?”

And now comes the kicker, the clickbait secret is:

Not About Us

No level of “Christian behaviour” will actually answer the questions of the world. No wise or persuasive words will solve a problem in someone’s life.

We can’t help you and worse than that, God is under no obligation to help you either.

God is God. Jesus is the anointed King of creation. There is no reason why He should help you, me or anyone else. The Good News that is proclaimed through the Bible, is that He does help us, but it needs to be clear that it’s not about us.

We are not special.
In any way.
The only reason that we are special is because God cares for us.
He doesn’t care for us because we are special.

There is only one thing that the world, the universe, events, time, space, people, animals, things, are meant for and that is:

To give glory to God

Why did God create us? To give Him glory.

Why does God save us? To give Him glory.

Why do we seek to see other people saved? To give Him glory!

Yes, we believe that salvation is/will be for the good of those who are saved, but that is NOT why they will be saved. Lets say it again…

People are saved so that God is glorified.

It’s not about us. No part of life or death, salvation or condemnation, obedience or rebellion is about us.

The ultimate truth that you must eventually run into, in this life or the next, is that EVERYTHING is about glorifying God.
It’s another conversation entirely, but to suffice to say, God is not on a power trip, He is not an egomaniac, nor is He proud and boastful. No God deserves all the glory, that is part of being God.

So that dichotomy from the letter to the Corinthians is this:

To the unbeliever: There is a God, who deserves to be given glory simply because He is God, but here are some specific instances I can point you to from my life, oh and He has made a way for you to be eternally part of His glory which is amazingly good for you if you think about it.

To the believer: Here is your lifetime of learning about new, interesting and different ways that you can give God glory and reasons that you should give God glory. Have fun!

 

No hokey pokey needed. That’s what it’s all about.

Wilderness 2019

Video report is finally up on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/Z2QFCEee-kQ

 

The build up to my 6th wilderness island trip was exceptionally long. 26 months in fact. The 2017 trip was the last week in April and I skipped the 2018 trip as it was scheduled close to when my second son was due. The last couple of weeks before this trip also involved sick kids and, a car that was at the mechanic with seemingly undiagnosable problems and a very expensive prognosis. All my plans of exceptional prior preparation went out the window and my budget crumpled to nothing.

I had promised to drop my son’s off to daycare and school on the Friday of departure, so it was around 945 that I finally rolled onto west swan road. Armed with a car full of leftovers from work and plenty of water I only made a couple of stops in the 9 hours to Carnarvon. One of those however was at the mesa lookout over the bottom of shark bay’s eastern gulf. I have often thought of stopping but this was the first time I actually did.

IMG_20190628_180115

Met up with Scott, Wayne, Korg, Jodie, Curtis and Matt at the Carnarvon motel, after mistakenly going to Carnarvon hotel, for one beer and a short chat about tackle and the goings-on in the tackle industry and we all called it a night.

I had plans to hit wapet creek for the start of the run out with high tide at 730am. When news came through that Jim wanted us at the marina for 930 to allow him to take the kayaks over, that plan was almost scratched. But I’m not in Exmouth often so I hit the road before 5. With a bit of Google mapping and instructions like, turn off onto one of the gravel tracks at the airport and follow your nose to the water I was making my first casts just after 8. No fish, but nice to get a feel of my new secondhand rod. Glenn was the only other person at the marina when I arrived at 930. As expected.

Loading was the usual organised chaos, or perhaps that should be chaos with a splash of organisation. With the kayaks sent on their way, we all retired to town or the hotel. My usual pre departure fishing was not at all productive on either saturday afternoon, nor sunday morning, though I did catch a small brassy trevally in the marina while waiting to get on the boat for the run across to the island and declared my account open.

IMG_20190630_104057.jpg

My report covers just the first two full days of fishing, but they contained most of my highlights from this year. The fishing highlights at least…

IMG_20190630_104517.jpg

Day one dawned clear and still. The low tide was early afternoon so we made the choice to leave early, fish the top and turn and run home after a short day to get in before the lagoon emptied out too much to peddle, or even paddle across. Getting stuck outside would mean a long walk, dragging a kayak across the sharp rocks and reef back to camp, or a very long day on the water waiting for the lagoon to refill close to sunset.

Safety rule at wilderness is no one is on the water in the dark, morning or night. Nearly everyone was fed and on the water before 7am though. By the time I had finished preparing lunch, there was only Curtis (who had been taking drone photos/video of the flotilla) and Ed (who had been swapping standard fins to a set of borrowed turbo’s) left at camp so we traveled together. Nonetheless, we were on the water by 730.
With the early peaking tide I suggested to the guys that we head up the inside (south east) of Burnside island with the aim of hitting the corner as the tide peaked. I have always had success fishing the mangrove line as the tide begins to empty, so thought it was a great idea.
Unfortunately the fish didn’t play. The three of us had just a few hits over the next couple of hours as we progressed slowly along. We did get a nice close look at the pair of osprey sitting on their enormous nest though which is cool.

OspreyLQ_Moment.jpg

Rather sheepishly I kept insisting that once the tide turned, it would be on for young and old.
By the time we reached the corner, I don’t think they believed me anymore, and being able to see some of the other guys at the far end of that stretch, they headed off to see how everyone else was doing.
I persisted, knowing that we were at slack water and any minute it would start moving out again.
Finally I started catching fish. First a bream, then a couple of small giant trevally. This is the essence of WI light tackle sport fishing. Tiny poppers and stickbaits, getting annihilated on the surface, light line, light rod and small reels. The action wasn’t as frenetic as I have experienced, but the amount of useless footage I took trying to capture the surface action is testament to my expectancy every single cast.

However, I was shaken from my single minded pursuit of the perfect surface take by an odd noise.
I say odd, but I immediately knew what it was and spun the yak around to look for the culprit.
Soon enough I spotted him.

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A Dugong was mooching his way through the seagrass flat around 50m behind me. I have seen them most trips, but generally only fleetingly, in the distance, so I turned on the GoPro and peddled over for a closer look.
As a I approached, it popped it’s head up, eyeballed me and disappeared back below the surface. Assuming it would have gone, I continued over to where it had been, only to find it had simply ducked below the surface.

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I don’t know how big they get, but to me, this was a whopper. Almost as long as my kayak (13ft) and easily as big across. I peddled casually around it, right up until I almost went straight above it’s head. At which point it spooked and with a tail flick that almost hit me, was gone.

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I sat, considering the experience for a couple of minutes and lo and behold, I hear it breathe again just a hundred metres or so away.
Again I approached, but this time I took the GoPro and held it under the water as I slowly peddled a lap around my companion.

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Just after I finished my circuit it slowly rose, took a breath and cruised away.

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I just watched as it went, completely awestruck by the experience. I probably could have followed, but I had already spent twenty minutes or so of peak fishing time, not fishing!

The rest of the day was the usual wilderness fare. I spent countless minutes of video trying to capture the perfect surface hit from the marauding trevally. It would run like this: half a dozen casts of nothing, one cast of a hit/pursuit/capture, turn on the camera for the next three casts and see nothing. Turn off the camera. Repeat. Very frustrating!
Fortunately the other guys had caught a few fish at the other end of the flat and had made their way along back to me and we all had a blast laughing at each other’s hooting and hollering as we caught mostly bream and small giant trevally. The Queenie’s were notably scarce in all sizes and I didn’t catch a single golden or mangrove jack which was very weird.
Even as we slowly headed home, the grotto and along the rock wall, still didn’t produce a single jack for me, though Curtis got a double on the same lure. (Might have been a jack and a cod… Or two cod… Something like that.)

I picked up a bigger than average GT

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and a good size cod which gave me a short, but solid workout as I used the lean back and hang on technique to pull it from its reefy home.

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That’s what I remember from day one. Oh, I had better add that I have been planning to take this picture every year and finally got around to it.

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Best shower in the world… Well, best one I have used.

 

Day two.

I trolled up a grinner barely bigger than the crystal minnow that it tried to eat on my way across to Burnside.
Then about 1/4 of the way along the island the lure was again crunched by something with a lot more power. The blistering runs that peeled 20lb braid from my reel had me thinking giant herring, but the stubborn determination and weight when trying to work it back suggested something else. Although it came thrashing to the surface a couple of times, with the sun still relatively low in the sky the glare made identification impossible.

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Eventually I worked it close enough to realise it was a shoulder hooked mackerel. I nearly lost the rod and reel as it made a final dive for freedom yakside.

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A good fish, but not a patch on how it felt fighting it.
Ever conscious of having fish to eat for dinner, it was given the Iki jime and wrapped in a wet cloth on the back deck. As I have said many times, perhaps not the perfect practice, but as long as you keep the towel wet, and have a bit of airflow, it is certainly sufficient to keep fish in an edible state for several hours.
I got out to the end of the rock bar having a chat with everyone on the way past. The big ticket item of chatter was that Scotty Coghlan had lost a BIG Mackie yakside. The tide was still on the rise, but approaching high. So I set about prospecting around for myself. I noticed a distinct glassy slick and current line running through the area and began following it up and back a few hundred meters. After a couple of laps, I stumbled upon a ridge a couple of metres high. It had the most distinct showing of fish that I have seen yet on my sounder, half a dozen obvious individuals on the downscan. With the tide still running in, the current was flowing from the shallow to deep side and the fish were sitting on the top of the drop.
I can’t remember if it was already tied on, or if I tied on seeing the fish on the bottom, but I deployed a 40 gm leaf jig directly over the top of them in a bit under 10m.

The first hookup didn’t take long to entice.
The fish tore off 20m or so of line and got airborne in one epic jump before I could even hit record on the GoPro. It was all over as suddenly as it started. It takes more than skill to land those monster giant herring.
Having not marked the spot, I followed back along my snail trail until I found the fish again.
I dropped the little jig down to the bottom and gave it one quick pitch before WALLOP.

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Several long, powerful runs ensued in the next five minutes with me giving chase, but also evident in the video, being towed. I was convinced that I finally had the big golden trevally that has been my prize target for most of my trips up there.

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When I was over the top of the fish and felt what I thought were big solid tail beats clipping across my leader, there was a moment of certainty that this was a trevally, but also terror that the tail would cut through the leader.
The fight was suddenly over after that as the fish came straight to the surface. When I saw an enormous giant herring materialise from the depths, it took a moment to process what was wrong with the picture.
The frequency of the fish’s flailing didn’t match with how little fight there was
and then I realised it was pouring blood out behind it
And then I realised ‘behind it’ wasn’t far enough back for how big it was.

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As all of this dawned on me, so did the very real concern that perhaps the bitey would be back for a second helping. I hoiked my prize on board as quickly as I could and just laughed at the lunacy of the situation. This was a monster of a giant herring, a true trophy fish but I only had half of it. Being aware that the blood on my deck and trickling down the mirage well was keeping the sharks around, I was presented with an opportunity to capture some good shark footage which I had promised my 5 year old son.
I made sure the camera was running and lobbed the remaining half over the side.

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To my surprise, the fish started flailing away and actually covered a bit of distance from the yak. In the footage, you can see at least 4 different sharks, from around 1m, up to a big one that I didn’t see until I watched the video, that could have been pushing 4m.

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Big one, right hand side of this shot.

Eventually one of the bigger whalers picked it off. That shark would have been around 3m, and big around.

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I regret not having thought about it for a minute or two more. I would have lightly hooked the fish and dangled it closer to get a really good shot of it getting eaten. Oh well, maybe next time.
After a few minutes breather, I went back to the spot, having remembered to mark it this time, but the fish were no longer there. Not especially surprising I guess…

As the tide peaked I decided to toddle the last little bit over to Simpson island with Scotty for a look at the sand spit that can be epic on the run out.
Even with the water just starting to run out, it was on fire. File that away in the memory banks for next time. I think the fish were just hanging around waiting. Within moments of arrival our stickbaits were being hunted down by pods of angry giants.
This type of surface action is such a blast, and made all the better having others fishing with you. The water was crystal clear and at most 2m deep. The highlight was a pod of three fish chasing my lure, one nailing it about 4m from the kayak at my 11 o’clock and barely a second later erupting from the water at my 3 oclock right between Scott and I who were only half a dozen metres apart. The lure barely missed me as it came flying back at me, but that’s what GH are all about.
A couple of casts later I had a solid hookup and several screaming runs. I had assumed another herring, but when I eventually got it yakside discovered that it was a Spanish mackerel of close to a metre. I never knew that you could catch macks that shallow and over sand, just a short cast from shore. Now I do. Unfortunately I had a bad run of taking photos instead of video for that session and caught none of it on camera, but at least it’s etched in my brain even if I can’t share it with you.

We could hear the Western Angler bandit humming along on the way out to deliver lunch and decided we had better head back to the designated rendezvous point so we left them biting. By now the wind had dropped right off and we had a classic Exmouth gulf glass off. Wayne, Brett, Scott and I met Korg out in the open water off the end of Burnside to take delivery of our lunch and I passed over the mackerel from the morning. A brief respite and a solid hit of sugar prepared me for the next session of the day.

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The other guys headed back towards the island/rock bar and I headed off to find my drop off again. I figured that the tide had now changed, so the water would be pushing into the wall and up welling. Hopefully the sharks had buzzed off to.
Since the fish had been sitting close to the bottom earlier, I had a gold monsoon breaker sinking stickbait tied on to get down in the water column despite it not being particularly deep. It took a while to find the fish with me doing several passes to actively map the area, but when I eventually found those distinct mid water blobs on the screen I stopped peddling and lobbed the lure back over my left shoulder, giving it a full 8 count of free spool to sink into the strike zone.
I had only given a couple of twitches when my tairyu megaspeed loaded up.
This was the first decent fish I had hooked on what has become my favourite combo. The Tairyu is a 3-6kg 7″ rod which I swapped a light jigging rod with aajay for and the reel a daiwa sol 3000 which I had bought of Brett when he was doing a clear out and loaded with 15lb gosen braid. Both I had acquired just months before the trip and this was the first time I had teamed them up. They will see much use as a lure casting combo both from yak and shore I think.
I distinctly remember, only moments in to the fight, the fish sitting almost straight under the yak and just feeling like a dead weight.

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I knew it was a fish as I felt the hit and a couple of head shakes but it just sat there for at least 10 seconds, in which time I was able to fire up the camera, before it hit the afterburners and was outta there.

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Note the spool is a blur

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
I laugh everytime I watch the footage at my own hooting and hollering. It went so fast that the changing line angle had me thinking it was surfacing for a jump. I quickly got after it and closed the 50m or so only to have it peel off again at 90 degrees from where it had been headed. Still with golden trevally on the brain I was sure that was what I had and began screaming at the top of my lungs for the other guys who were at least 200m away to come over for pictures. After making ground on it again, there was one more screamer of a run, which put some doubt in my mind about my call of trevally, which would have settled in to circle work by then. Racking my brain for what it could be, I started worrying that it might be a shark.
The video shows it was only about 5.5 minutes before I got my first sight of the long silver torpedo of a Spanish Mackerel. It got it’s first sight of me and was off again.

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Finally the other guys had heard me and were making their way over. At this point the concern went from “I have hooked a shark” to “please don’t get sharked!” Especially since I was (or at least started) in the same place I got done hours earlier.
Another 5 minutes went by with the fish appearing and disappearing on short runs before we settled in to the final circle work with the fish sitting in my slipstream as I tried to circle around on it.

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As expected there was plenty of encouragement like “You want to get it on board for a photo?” “This is when I lost mine.” Etc

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I was regretting not taking any form of lifting device, gaff, lip grips etc as I started trying to work out the logistics of getting a big fish full of teeth into the kayak. Not only teeth, but the lure was stuck in the underside of its jaw/gills so a gill lift was out of the question, leaving tailing as my only option.

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In the brief moment I thought a gill grab was a good idea

 

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Again with plenty of “encouragement” I missed a couple of grabs and ended up with the exhausted fish hanging tail down with just a lot of really sharp stuff pointed at me. Then I realised it, just like planing a fish up when game fishing, I had to peddle forward to bring the tail up allowing me to finally make a successful grab and haul the beast tail first onto my lap.

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Triumph!

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Scott and Brett immortalized the moment with many many photos.

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In Brett’s words “you looked absolutely exhausted, but so ridiculously happy.” That about sums it up.
I never knew until then that Spaniards are ridiculously slimy. Having had it held against me on my lap for 10 minutes or so, I was totally covered it it. Warning to all of you hoping to catch one.
As I said, the fish was done, there was no way I was going to even try to revive it so I euthanized it and began figuring out how I would wrap it in my damp half a sheet to keep it cool. To be honest, even though the fight wasn’t excessively long, the adrenaline, heat and humidity, had taken it’s toll on me to so I was quite happy to wrap it up and head back to camp.
I scared myself a couple of times as it’s teeth were just next to the handles on the side of my yak so every time I adjusted myself in the seat, I nearly slit my wrists on them. Another warning for you.

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By the time I got back to camp I was wrecked. Fortunately a couple of people were around to help me carry Providence up the beach, after I dragged her across the reef, leaving a trail of blue plastic curls. Oops.
On the brag mat the fish went almost exactly 150cm and after a little search, Kim brought out a set of scales which it pulled down to 16kg. Having no experience with mackerel I was pretty happy with that, but I am told that weight/length it was a skinny fish. Whatever.
Korg filleted it and we all headed back up to the main camp for a rest.

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Having had such a spectacular first day and a half, I was more than satisfied with my experience already. I love the atmosphere at wilderness and having the drive to nail a monster already numbed down allowed me just to chill out and cruise the rest of the week.

I had many more special moments including:

a landbased GH session on the first evening that saw a dozen fish hooked, I only landed one

a 75cm spanish mackerel out of a tiny creek on a trembler 55.

a small shark that nailed that same trembler trolled in a muddied up creek and jumped several times in very close proximity to the yak, wrapping the line around the mirage drive and scaring the bejeebers out of me.

Chasing pods of dolphins wondering if the risk of hooking one was worth the chance of catching the fish they were chasing.
Spending a morning fishing with master Edwards, where I sat in (very frustrated) awe as he caught 8 giant herring and I got one bite off, even though we were using the same lure and technique. Well… he confessed afterwards he had the tiniest difference in his technique which obviously made all the difference.

Being enough “wall of shame points ” behind that I could enjoy catching ridiculously enormous long toms. These were like crocodiles, as big around as my forearm, close to a metre long and angry as a divorcee at a pink concert. No, seriously! One of them charged my yak and latched onto the anchor trolley, not letting go until I pried it’s jaws open. Not sure if perhaps they were a stockier subspecies, but they had some serious pulling power and I really thought I had a Mack/herring both times that I hooked one.

Not to mention the off water antics!

Is it the pilot or angler at fault when a drone becomes entangled in a cast and goes for a swim?
Bogan night
Sitting on the beach, late at night, looking into the roaring sou-wester at the raindrops appearing as they enter the light of the camp.
Jenga
Cards against humanity
Pet kangagoo’s
An ever changing leader board on the wall of shame
Lots of tunes
Pink dress

As always, an awesome trip. With the trip almost filled with return offenders every year, it’s a challenge to get yourself a spot, but if you can, DO!
I’ll be missing next year so at least one spot available… I’ll be very sad if I’m not there in 2021!

Insignificant actions

James 1:22  “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 2: 14-26 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

I mean… I probably don’t need to write anything else as that passage explains it pretty well and yet is one that creates much controversy. I guess that’s the point, if you misunderstand what the passage is saying, then it challenges other stuff that we know to be true. So to add to James’ examples I have a couple more that really struck me when I read them.

Exodus 12:21-23 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the door frame. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the door frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.”

Ok so imagine that you are just a regular Israelite. Some crazy stuff has just happened, Egypt has been largely decimated through 9 plagues but for the most part Israel has been relatively unaffected. Without you having to do anything I might add. Then along comes Moses and starts telling you that to be protected you have to paint your door frames with the blood of a freshly slaughtered lamb! Apart from the fact that it’s gross,(!) how is that going to do anything to protect you? Add to that, this is the first time that the sacrifice of animals has been included as part of Gods requirements for His people. It’s starting to sound pretty crazy isn’t it?

I’m honestly not sure if I would have done it. You’re going to look pretty stupid if nothing happens. You’ll have to clean it off. What will the neighbours think, especially if they don’t do it themselves…

But the passage says that when the Lord goes through the land, he will SEE the blood and not permit the destroyer to enter that house. Now we know that the Lord see’s the heart and knows if a person has faith but in the most practical sense, this is a proof of that faith. It is not a hard action that the Lord is asking, in fact it’s very simple. The hard part is allowing faith to govern actions despite those things I said above. I believe, though as far as I know there is no scriptural backing for it, that an Israelite who believed in God with complete certainty, but was unwilling to paint their door frame, would have suffered the same as the Egyptians. Likewise, one who had little or no faith, but for whatever reason, found it within themselves to do the action, would have been spared.

Yes, in a way, James does advocate an expectation of works as well as grace but the work is predicted as a showing of faith, not an expectation  to earn grace. Not an action to prove our faith, for the Lord knows our heart and needs no such proof, but if we have faith, we will do what we are asked. If we are unwilling to enact it, then either we don’t truly believe it, or we have chosen something above it. Fear of others? Rejection? Greed? Pride? If you are unwilling to do some obscure act that God asks of you, then have you really put Him above all?

If we go abseiling and while we are standing on the top of the cliff I tell that the ropes are strong enough to hold a double decker bus and the harnesses are so well made that I could lower an elephant down the cliff in one of them, but neither of us end up going down the cliff. What value is it? Moreover, the person who goes over the cliff in fear and trembling, has more faith than the one who stays on the level ground, expounding the virtues of their harness. The one who goes, will be bolder to go the next time, as they have real world experience of their harness and ropes reliability.

Again, if I have ten billion dollars in the bank, but refuse to spend any, the value of that money is zero in truth.

I’m mostly going to let The Word speak for itself on this and just pose you those few questions.

Have a think about this one to while you’re at it.

Naaman: 2 Kings 5:1-14

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.”

Additional points to note, the Israelite girl says to see the prophet. By the time Naaman is on his way, he is going to see the king! It’s unclear whose misunderstanding or assumption that was, but someone wants him to go to the guy who is expected to have the power by earthly standards.

Then, when he gets there, the king thinks it’s a trap and sends him off to see someone else. As a powerful man, with a letter from a powerful king, I’m guessing that put a bit of a disgruntled mood among the troop.

Nonetheless off he goes, still believing that he can be healed. When his entourage arrive at the prophets house, he is greeted by a servant with a message… And that’s all.

I tell you what, I think I would have been grumpy at that point to!

Imagine traveling half way around the world to see a specialist in your ailment but when you get there, the receptionist says “go and wash and you’ll be fine.” Seriously? Don’t you think I have done that? Off he goes in a huff. But his servants are wise enough to see the error. You believe that you can be healed by this man. You have traveled half way around the world, with several camel loads of treasure to pay him to heal you. You already have enough faith to be healed, but you are going to let him not asking enough of you stop you from being healed? From seeing the power of God?

Whatever God has asked you to do, in whatever situation it is today, just do it. Even if it seems ridiculous, do it. If it seems insignificant in the face of the challenge, just do it. If it might be embarrassing or awkward, do it.

For me, the direction in the early church to have elders pray over sick people and anoint them with oil are perfect examples of this. Why the heck would you pour oil on someone? Yes I know the symbolism. All the more to make the point! Do it as an act of faith. I know God has the power to heal, I trust that He can and will and He said to do this so I will. Of course to return to the original verse in James, if you tell someone that you hope they will be ok, when you have the means to help them, but you don’t help them, you share only empty sentiment. Helping is driven by a desire to see them cared for. In the same way, works are driven by faith. If you anoint with oil as a work to gain Gods assistance, it probably wont happen. However, if you trust God to heal then you will act according to his script, not to gain His favour, but simply because you know Him.

Perhaps a better phrasing:

“Action moves knowledge to conviction.”

Rob Reimer, (Soul care)

Faith can be defined (by me!) as “Being so certain of your knowledge, that you can act on it.”

Faith should not be an airy fairy concept. If it is, then it is of no value. It is like that weird, unbranded lure that I have kicking around in the bottom of my tackle box. Sure, it’s there, and I might tie it in for a laugh, but if I’m actually trying to catch fish, I will never use it. It is taking up space without purpose. There is no denying that it is there, but I will never use it. I want my faith to be like the 15gram gold twisty. In just about every situation, it’s the first thing I tie on. It is always in ACTION. Why is it always in action? Because I know it works! And how do I know it works? I put it into action!

In the most literal sense, I want to ACT in faith before anything else, not as a last resort. Lord, give us insignificant actions, not to show that we trust you, but like a password, to confirm that it is you acting. Not coincidence, accident or circumstances.

Make my faith like a halco twisty; always in use, always effective, always my first reliable option.

Wilderness island 2017

Not sure why this never got posted here… But in lieu of heading back there next week…

(Copy and pasted from the yakfishwest forum)

This year was my fifth trip to Wilderness in 6 years.

Once again I hit the water as soon as possible in exmouth, in this case that was Saturday morning, taking a walk from the caravan park up to the marina along the beach throwing a gold slice on 10lb gear. I picked up my first fish around 845am, a queenie of around 60cm just north of the marina.

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It was then kayak loading time and once again having Harry and his boat “Pizzaz” was of great benefit as we could fit all the yaks on and keep Jims boat free for gear and supplies. Trent and I both kept back our lightest spinning combo and a pocket size lure box, lessons learned from other years, maximise fishing time.

I made the supply run across to the island with Jim, Kim, Nick and our backpacker helper Lucy. I have made that trip about 10 times now having done extra runs a couple of the years and still it just takes my breath away every time. It especially helps when you have glassy calm conditions as we once again scored this year.

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It was good fun building the excitement for first timer Nick. It was more humid than any other day that I have been there and we were all soaked with sweat and struggling to keep up water intake as we unloaded the stuff.

Back to town by early arvo and briefly in to mantarays (formerly novotel) grabbed the rods and back out to the marina with Trent for the last couple of hours of sunlight. I boasted to Trent that I would have a fish before he was rigged up but the usually productive north corner was too low on water to produce anything. We headed around to the south wall where we found a point with a bit of water movement in some deeper, though still under a metre, of water. We soon had action and picked up a succession of brassy trevally to a kilo or so and queenies in the 50cm class. I was sure there were golden trevally amongst them to, but we didnt get any. A great fun little session before the official trip had even started with lots of screaming light gear drag, double hookups and flying queenies.

Dinner at barbecue father with the full crew, almost all familiar faces, and many repeat offenders.
I wasnt surprised to be awake by 6am on the sunday and Trent and I again made the most of our spare time with the tide being at about the same as the night before we went back to the same spot. Sandflies aplenty, not as much action as the night before but I did get one nice golden trevally, confirming to me that they would have been there the night before.

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Back to the hotel for final pack up and down to the marina and on our way.
I sat ‘up front’ on the boat with the Vandy’s and it was great to catch up, reminisce on previous years and again build the anticipation for another year. However, what we agreed upon was that the more you go to wilderness, the less the fishing matters. Of course it is always the draw, but the social, natural and psychological benefits of the place suddenly rival the fishing in importance.

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By the time we got to the island, Harry had unloaded all our yaks and daisy chained them together from the mooring. It was a matter of pull in and untether yak, seat, drive, paddle and angler in and send them on their way.

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Soon enough all yaks were pulled up above the tide line in front of camp and we had a quick unpack.

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The ‘arrival briefing’ was particularly brief as most of us were familiar with the rules.
Soon enough a group of us made our way landbased to the south end of the island.

The usual jacks were in force under the end rocks but tempting them was a challenge. I swear they are smarter every year. However with the advice of ‘tighten your drag as far as you can get away with…’ first timer, Dave got a solid hookup on a paddle tail plastic. The fish tore off several metres across the front of the rocks, catching the angler unprepared, ending the battle under a rock slightly further out. It was oddly satisfying to see an angler with that silly grin we all get after getting smoked by a powerful fish.
I landed one in a hollow victory, the fish smashing the lure just below the surface and I lifted it out before it had a chance to fight back.
Brett was now getting fish out the front on a marabou jig even as it rapidly lost feathers. So we all turned our attention that way.
A procession of queenies and trevally fell to each of us using a variety of lures.

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As sunset approached I got a bigger than usual hookup with the fish powering away briefly, pausing for a couple of headshakes and off again heading north along the front of the rock wall. I had backed the drag down to allow the smaller queenies to shine on the light gear, but now found myself palming the rapidly emptying spool. I began following the fish north scampering across the lower section of rocks and back up to the higher ground. I could feel the grating of line on sea weed and just hoped it was floating weed being dragged around. By now the fish had switched and gone back south so I again followed but this time I realised the point where the line entered the water wasn’t changing. A sure sign I was hung up on weed and or reef. Those painful few seconds as the line was still grating as it ran out while I agonisingly tried to decide which way to go to free the it felt like an eternity. Inevitably it broke and I was left to wind in at least 10m of shredded braid and looking at my spool, guessing I lost 20-30m on top of that.
You may have seen the (infamous in my family) 360 video on Facebook where Scotty has immortalised my reaction to ‘How did you go?’

I got F#$(@&G SMOKED!

First night revellery was enjoyable but knowing we had early tides, breaky time was set for 6am for 7am launch, so a relatively early night.

 

I didn’t sleep well as it was hot and humid, but that just meant I was up before my 5am alarm and got stuck in to lunch prep before even cooking breakfast allowing me to hit the water fairly soon after the others.
North was the plan. In the lead up there had been discussion of circumnavigation of tent Island which was the initial plan.
I am told there were some nice fish taken from the north end of the island, including a mangrove jack for Scotty Cog

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and the giant herring shown in the video by Glenn.

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He seems to get one there every year even if no one else else does.
I made my way across the expanse towards where the lead group of yaks were, pulling up and having a chat to each person as I passed them.
Scott Vandy was just landing a fish when I got to him so I got him a photo of his first wolf herring.

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Scotty Cog was battling wind, waves, and current trying to extricate a lure from a bommie he had stuck it to. It was quite amusing as he was the only one on the trip with a 180 drive, yet he was using his paddle to manoeuvre. For fear of damaging the drive I think…
I worked around the inside of that bommie, casting basically onto the shore and working back out to the yak after spooking some bigger fish in the shallow rock filled water.
I got my first GT for the trip and a respectable one, pushing the 50cm mark at a guess and a couple of kilos.

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Hit up a big lump of rock in some deeper water with Wayne that just screamed fish, but apparently the fish couldn’t hear it.
Brett had pulled up out the front of rooster creek and was standing and sight casting the line of dead mangroves out the front. The tide was fairly pushing in, so I used that and made one pass, then allowed it to sweep me in to the creek. I cant remember who it was that was coming out and told me, its sand fly hell in there dont go in. So I reloaded with bushmans, checked my clothing seals and coverage and let the current take me in.
That ended up being a fun little session across the bottom of the tide, I just let the current do all the work, drifted in until it turned and then back out. I kept two jacks in the high 30’s to take back for dinner and also got to photograph Davids first ever jack, and a respectable one of around 40cm at that.

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Even jumped out on a beach and had a little float for a few minutes, very welcome comfort in the humid conditions.
I was last out of the creek and it was very shallow by then, made the short paddle across the sand bar out front interesting with small waves breaking around. Wayne, Brett and Scott V were working in a loose semicircle, a sure sign that something was happening. As I pulled up I was told there were Giant herring around, but also demerit point scoring ‘cuda.
You beauty.
Trusty 15gm gold twisty deployed on the lighter outfit and there was never a long pause before a voice would cry out hookup! Only for it to be downgraded to argh its a bloody ‘cuda.
I hooked a giant herring which stayed attached about as long as it takes to say
‘Yep, this is not a ‘cuda its a HERRI…’
*fish launches into the air and throws lure back at angler*
‘…ng and its gone.’
A few casts later I came up solid. The heckling of ‘bet its a cuda’ died down when the reel screamed for a full 5 thousand count and i responded with never seen a cuda do that!
Then the aerials started as easily my biggest queenie took to the air. I guess the full fight took under 10 minutes but it felt like we were ‘doing the dance’ circling each other in the final stages for a long time. I was very grateful that Brett was there with video and camera on hand to capture the moment, one of my best fish to date, though I did attempt to take some myself of the fish in the kayak.

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I now know that its hard to measure a fish that size on a brag mat in a kayak, but it was comfortably over a metre. Took a bit of swimming to revive but swam off a couple of minutes later.
The rest of that session was a bizzare one for me, with these brown fish that i didnt recognise from profile, following my flat out twistie. When I eventually hooked one, they turned out to be bluebone! Only little ones of less than 30cm, but none the less.

As we all headed back to camp, I felt it was too early and since I had been told Vandy and Trent were down there, I detoured towards the creeks.
As I approached, Trents voice came over the radio
“I think I know who will be wearing the pink dress this year.”
“Who? and what happened?”
“Well I was trolling and got such a hard hit that my rod holder spun around and I missed grabbing the rod as it flew out the back.”

So by the time I passed him, he was in no mood to keep fishing and after a brief chat I pressed on.
I got to Vandy in the first creek and he was having a ball on the ultralight gear with bream and whiting. We slowly made our way back and being the bottom of the tide by the time we got there, I ran extra wide around the reef while he ‘hatch sailed’ across the shallow northern corner.

Tuesday 25th. ANZAC day.
I had been thinking about how to commemorate ANZAC day, as WI always has something special and being there for that date couldn’t be ignored. Well all my ideas paled into insignificance as Glenn wandered up to the main camp early and set himself up with his ukulele.
With all of us there, and the fantastic sunrise beaming across the gulf and lighting up the clouds in front of us, he treated us to “The band played waltzing Matilda”

Absolute

contemplative

silence

filled the air. A special moment.

Trent and I were both late on the water and he proceeded to catch a squid on his trolling lure not far from camp so he turned back to get some live bait rigs.
By that time, half of the group was half way up burnside and the other half were milling around in the southern side of the channel between wilderness and burnside. That was odd, as we normally cut across a fair way north, so worthy of investigation. Turns out Vandy had caught a nice spaniard. Uncommon but not unheard of, and Scott Vandy had spent a while fighting a big shark. It seemed I had missed the action and we pottered up to the end of the island. Water was screaming around the south side of the island and off the point and there was no shortage of fish working it. There was a lot of weed to however. Surface lures were the go, but even they would catch clumps every couple of casts. I persisted in close to the wall and got several trevally, including one that completely engulfed my popper, and queenies, but had to pull my rudder and/or mirage drive every couple of minutes to clear the rafts of weed.

I opted to work slowly up the island as the high tide allowed me to fish the ‘second edge’ of the island, up on what is exposed reef at low tide. Surprisingly few fish wanted to play, but cruising slowly along in glassy clear water without a care in the world was magic. That is not to say that I wasn’t catching fish, just not as many as I might have otherwise.
Trent was working the outer reef edge and got a good spangled emperor on the fresh squid, which went some way to easing the loss of the day before.

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A bit later he got a good cod which gave him a serious workout as it reefed him a couple of times, but with persistence he won out.

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We drifted over big schools of brassy trevally in the outflows and caught a few, but when you saw how many were there, it was clear that they were shut down.

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Very late to the main outflow party, most of the action had slowed by the time I got there, but I think these pics apply to that day…

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Trent and I were last to head home from the outflows and slowly made our way back along the island. I was a few hundred metres in front of Trent by the time I got to the point and I knew that the inner reef wall often fires for cod and jacks as it gets super shallow with the last of the tide. I was working my little rooster around and getting those weirdo bluebone on surface lures again, then I got a squid… strange happenings.
Just after Trent got there I hooked another big queen. In the super shallow water it spent a lot of time airborne until eventually straightening my hook.

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That kept us fishing a bit longer, but the impending sunset and low tide meaning a long kayak drag up the reef/beach had us scampering home, just in time to not get any demerits for being late back.
WI turned on a particularly speccy sunset, which again brought me back to contemplating the cruel reality of war for freedom.

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I dont know why this stupid picture wont rotate… it shows it up the right way everywhere else…

 

A slightly later start on wednesday as there was talk of taking the WAngler boat and Jims boat out for a bit of a photo shoot, that ended up being scheduled for thursday, but Scotty made the most of the anglers on the water heading north to get some drone footage and photos.

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A controversial decision that the remainder of us Scott, David, Nick and myself would head back to burnside was made.
In our defense, we did’t really hit the outflows much at all, but focused on light gear along the mangroves on the western side of the island at high tide. This has become one of my favorite activities at wilderness as there are plenty of little speedsters available to hit anything you want to throw. Hence why I took Nemo (My sons combo, loaded with 4kg test mono and with the drag coated with heavy reel grease) for a spin.
I wanted to land a fish first so although that was rigged up, it had to wait.

That didnt take long. I was fishing an area that has an ‘invisible’ creek, just a slightly lower patch of ground hidden by the mangroves, that last year I saw Kim hook a big golden trevally in. Throwing a small floating stickbait, I just saw about 10cm diameter of open yellow blubber lipped mouth engulf it off the surface my little reel scream into life. Fortunately I had cast away from the mangroves and knew that the flats were pretty safe as long as it stayed out there. I started squealing like a schoolgirl at a Bieber concert for Scotty, or anyone else to hurry up and bring a camera. All the while the fish was swimming an arc and now heading back towards the mangroves. I peddled like a bat outta hell to head it off and successfully did so, only to have it arc back the other way and call for some fancy yak handling to spin around and keep it on the safe side again. My hollering continued as the fish now turned and bolted directly back out onto the flat. The elation was short lived as suddenly it was gone. Another big fish lost on light gear, changed the tone of my shouts. Upon retrieve I found that disaster this time had struck due to the hook, split ring and anchor all having pulled out of the back of the little lure.

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With that, I decided Nemo still had to wait, and I wouldn’t trust those stickbaits anymore.
Next hookup, soon after, was a hoot, as I got my first WI Giant herring. It was then that I realised the amusing fact, I caught several GH in Perth before my first up north. Happily I had David nearby so I got a got photo of myself with it. Thanks David.

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Now Nemo got his chance. I also had a wager on with a mate that I couldn’t catch a GH on this beat up, almost featherless, marabou jig. Ok so the real bet required it to be metro, but better for confidence if I could get one up there first.
Have you ever fished one of those kids rods? With that tiny little spool and stuff all gearing, if you want to make a lure move fast, you have to wind REALLY fast. I worked my ass off and managed three hookups.
The first, a giant herring that threw it just moments into the fight, but I was seriously impressed with not breaking off straight up. The little drag sung and the fish flew. Not only had I hooked one on that munted jig, but i hadn’t broken it off on a kids rod and reel.
By now Scotty had gone past me and was getting plenty of fish, but also seriously harassed by sharks. Anyone who has fished with Coggers will know how vocal he is when fishing. It was absolutely hilarious all the things that came out of his mouth directed at fish and more so at sharks. I shouldn’t mock too much, as I’m sure that my hollering not much earlier was just as girly.
That brings me to my next fish with Nemo. It got sharked. But I got the jig back, and still didn’t break off. Not the combos fault.
By now, Scott had been playing with a school of golden trevaly in the 40cm range and they were now sheltering under his kayak presumably from the onslaught of the packs of sharks. This was by far the most sharks I have ever seen and though most were around the 1.5m mark, there were some bigger ones and being fired up chasing hooked fish it was a little intimidating getting fish out of the water.
In that context, I was still fishing nemo and hooked another golden, by casting at Scott and stopping it about 1m short of hitting his yak. Hooking up was easy enough, but by using that arc style run, I couldnt stop this one getting to a clump of snags and busting off.
With that, the adventures of nemo the emo at wilderness Island were over as one couldn’t be bothered re tying the bimmini twist etc with the fish on the chew so actively and even though I said I would get to it that night, I never did.
Back to the normal light gear and with a slightly better condition marabou, I caught a couple of goldens which was fun playing race the shark and only conceeded one.

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That of course made for interesting times as at least two whalers circled the yak while I unhooked and photographed the fish and chucked that part overboard. The risk of losing a hand outweighed the desire for a close up underwater photo of the rest of that fish being eaten.
I pulled the mirage drive and splashed water up that way to wash the blood off, figuring no shark could fit it’s head in that gap if my splashing drew too much attention to my hand.

We picked up a few more fish but the session was mostly over, so we headed back towards the outflows for the second half of the run out.

When we got there it was clearly not for the faint hearted with plenty of wind blown chop pressing up against the fast moving out flowing water. I was determined to troll up a golden and this time ran out a lure on my charter special which was still rigged up with 6kg mono from Kalbarri classic.
It lasted until I passed the first outflow and the first decent load that got put through the rod… snap…
That will teach me not to retie…
I got myself into a groove doing big laps across the front of the outflows, going with the current line on the last one, back across about 200m out and then back up the first flow and repeat. The other three guys mostly fished the walls for jacks and trevally, though Nick made a few trolling runs with me but the conditions really weren’t pleasant.
A miss communication had me thinking that the other guys were running back up the inside of the wall and would pop out the first outflow on their way home so I made several more laps and called it quits. However when I got to the first outlet and they werent there I was a bit confused. Turns out they went all the way around the island, if I had known I would have joined them, but then had to slog it much further than I did straight up the guts of the wind. Either way, I again found myself slowly making my way up to the beach, nearing sunset and dragging the yak across an extended length of reef.
The first beer went down well that night.

 

Thursday Dawned with a bit of drizzle in the air, not enough to be rain, but just right for a spectacular rainbow that was well over 180 degrees from our elevated view and hit the ground/water just out from camp. There were also lots of fish busting up around the front of camp and we watched as it was slowly broken up into a couple of groups. We were all captivated by Wilderness TV at its best.
My photos were pretty average…

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But this was not taken by me….

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So as I alluded to, Thursday was a boat day for a few of us. David and Dave joined Scott on the WAngler boat, while Nick, Lucy, Kim and I joined Jim on his boat. The plan was to hunt GT’s with plenty of big queenies expected in the same areas.
First stop looked amazing, glassy clear with lots of fast moving water pouring around the end of the island on the rising tide.
First cast was game on with at least 3 big queenies going for my clone stickbait right back to the boat. Unfortunately I couldn’t stick the hooks to any of them and this occurred for several casts until they got a bit gun shy.
Scott hooked one and after a reasonable fight, it was dutifully netted and brought aboard. It had a good photo session before the decision was made to keep it for Jim to make nummis. (pickled queenfish) Meanwhile, we rounded the corner and pulled up on a beach to sort it out so I swapped rods to my lighter gear rigged with a 15gm sea iron which I had brought in case I needed to cast at tuna. I landed a nice brassy after only one or two casts.
Back to the corner and Jim was encouraging us to fish the shallow rocky areas hoping for some big mangrove Jacks. We thought that was what we had when Kimmy hooked up big time. After a tough battle where it went under rocks and was encouraged out, then around some different rocks… she eventually got busted off. Big cod probably.
Soon after she was on again though. After a longer than expected fight we had colour and were expecting a trevally, but were surprised to see a big queenie, hooked in the shoulder being worked to the boat.

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It took Nick a few shots with the net to get it aboard, in his defence, shoulder hooked fish are harder to net, but eventually up she came.

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More photos, and that one was released.
The action had quietened down with the flow slowing considerably so we moved on to the next location.
I grabbed a few pics of the Wangler boat along the way.

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If you know this area you will recognise it, it certainly looks like a big fish hangout.

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The brassys and medium queenies were thick. We had a frenetic half hour or so where it was hard not to catch them. I had now handed my rod to Lucy and was trying to coach her into catching one. She was epically unlucky. I don’t think she was doing anything wrong, but just couldn’t hook the fish even when they were climbing all over the lure.
If memory serves, someone had hooked up on the rocks so while Jim maneuvered to unsnag them, I went to the front of the boat and started casting into the deeper water away from the rocks.
There was an eruption as the fish nailed my lure in one of the best surface hookups that I have seen. We then went in to the aerial display as a big queenie went nuts. Soon enough we went to tug of war, and soon after that the fish was in the boat. My second metre queen for the week. Again plenty of photos and the fish was released.

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We continued catching fish for a while, but just could not temp the big jacks, probably because it was so ridiculously gin clear that they were watching us drop stuff on them. I even tried micro jigs. Lucy jumped over and had a snorkle and spotted some monster squid.
A bust up a couple of hundred metres away caught our attention and both boats shot over as fast as possible. Scott and crew got there first and Scotty called across that he was getting follows from Giant herring. After the fish sounded and re appeared once or twice we had fish swiping at lures jiggled right beside the boat. Not GH, but small school macks. I got a classic polaris mack hit in the distance just after starting to retrieve the lure. The fish easily clearing a metre out of the water. Fun little fight but easily knocked over on the GT gear being only 60cm or so.
After deciding there were no tuna or herring, we moved to our next spot.
(order may be incorrect)
This was an area that Scott had had a great session on previously, but Jim was not so enthusiastic suggesting that was the only good session that he had there. Fish on the sounder, but we couldn’t tempt them. We were probably 50m away when Scott hooked up. After a reasonable fight he boated a good size golden Trevally.
We didn’t persist much longer and the next spot was an abrupt sand spit that just appears out of nowhere for no easily visible reason.
This looked exceptionally fishy with bait milling on the surface and a sweet drop off into the deeper water. We spotted a few big fish, including a black GT that I didn’t see, but Jim and Nick assured me was BIG. I had a follow from something big and broad across the shoulders, but I would have called as tuna shaped. I guess it could have been a longtail, but we will never know because I only got a couple of seconds look before it lost interest.
It was amazing fishing the aquarium as we came around to the rocky side and watched a variety from bream to fingermark, jacks and cod but I think it was just all too glassy and still and we provoked few fish to strike.
That seemed to be the recurring theme of the day and after one more spot and then back to the now fully exposed rock bar from earlier in the day we saw a heck of a lot of fish, but they were not interested.
Finally we worked back along the wall of Simpson Island hoping for Jacks, which we got a couple of, but soon headed for home.
The gulf turned on the full range of non-fishy wildlife on the run home including turtles, dolphins and even a very brief appearance of a dugong.
I had my first go at driving one of the island vehicles to take the fish down to the beach to fillet. Almost made a fool of myself with the touchy throttle and not touchy clutch, but successfully didn’t stall despite over reving a bit. Jim and Kim broke out the big wok for some fantastic Queenfish green curry. Here is another sunset.

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Friday, our final fishing day, I had made my mind up that regardless, I would go up the creeks after regretting not doing it other years.
Unfortunately it was an error. The tide being so huge the fish had disappeared waaaay up into the mangroves and everywhere on the edges of the creeks was just moving so fast that I doubt fish could hold position and even when you found somewhere out of the current, it was a real challenge to manage the yak to be able to fish those little windows.
Trent and I persisted and did catch a few fish.
I found one little corner of clean water and got a couple of hits and when I finally hit something solid, the response was a stream of ink coming at me! The hooks pulled but it was certainlly a surprise.
The next hook up pulled after only a few moments and was engulfed again. A nice cod.
I spotted a big queenie in the entry to the creek at the bottom of the estuary, just patrolling the front. Mild interest didn’t last.
My big plan was to fish ‘Jack creek’ on the top of the tide which was really productive last year. I didnt time it right and was there way too early. With water absolutely flying through I went along it backwards, paddling just to slow the drift and ruddering to point the bow and fish each side. It was unfishable, but on the exit I got monstered by a big queenie. The first pass didnt hook up, but the second cast did. The fish nailed it right next to the kayak and kept going. It pulled the rod down against my arm, which was on the rudder control, so hard that it pinned it against the side of the yak. Before I could sort myself out it had a jump on the other side of the yak and got off. A new way to lose a fish and certainly one of those ones where you give the fish a nod and say ‘Well played!’
My final memorable hookup came after the tide had turned. The fishing had been very quiet for over an hour so I figured, maybe if we try a more expensive lure. Thats how its supposed to work right? Well I tied on the most expensive I had, a Crackerjack. Ok, not expensive by some standards.
Anyway
First cast was on the spot.
Wham!
Hookup was brief and like early in the day disconnected very quickly.
But moments later, wham again.
Again, gone.
When I got the lure back in, the front treble was mangled and the rear was missing two points! In P21’s defence, those hooks were old, but it still made me giggle.
Just as an aside on fish behavior, I think in both cases, the initial fish was a jack. The commotion of it hitting, briefly fighting and getting off then draws the attention of any cod in the area which then nail the lure as soon as it is released.

Tough day at the office, but one outta five I can handle.
Some general comments on the week, The average size of fish was certainly up. All the ‘small’ queenies and trevally were 5-10cm bigger than the average other years. For me, there were more big fish. Brett and Scott both commented the converse, suggesting there were less big fish, but for me, it was a stellar trip.
No matter what I targeted (except boat day) the fish appear to be hunting the same size bait, so use the same size lure. Jacks up the creeks, 10cm hardyheads, metre plus queenies and goldens on the rock bar, 10cm hardyheads. Fish lures to suit. My top lure for the week again, 80mm rooster, though the ol 15gm twistie easily held its own, though less fun than the surface hits.
As always, amazing social trip. Great guys, massive info sharing and just great fun. Thanks to our hosts, Jim and Kim. Even if you don’t get up there with a YFW trip, try to go see them sometime. Brett and Scott also organised some theme nights which were fun, and in some cases disturbing.
Thanks to everyone who came, get on it to everyone else.
Hope to see you up there.

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10 ideas from 10 Years

So today is my tenth wedding anniversary. Well not actually the day I wrote this… I started (and finished) months early. I know, I know, relationship advice is not what this blog is about but… Anyway, for such a momentous occasion I thought I would share some things that we have used, or ideas that have come up during those years, that have helped our relationship go from strength to strength. I’m no relationship guru, I don’t profess to be perfect or even to manage these ten points myself. They are simply things I have learnt and thought I would share.

(I started writing this as gender neutral, but got tired of it. I’m a husband, you can change the terms to suit your situation.)

So without further I-do (hehehe):

1: Sorry to all of you that do not have a faith in the living God of the Bible, but advice number one is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.”
Sounds counter intuitive to say that the way to increase your love for your spouse is to love God more than them, but it’s not. The love of God is perfect and the love of your spouse is not. The love of God will always be greater than the love of, or for, your spouse. That will firstly ground you in knowing that you are loved regardless of how your relationship is at any given moment, and secondly give you something  to aspire to together. The love of God helps us learn forgiveness, grace, patience, mercy, meekness, humility and the list goes on, with things that we need to invest in our relationship with our spouse. As your relationship with God grows, you will learn the depth of all those traits that He shows to you and you will be inspired to show them to your partner. Furthermore, you will begin to realise that God sees you and your partner in the same way, with that perfect love. This will make it hard to hold anger, bitterness, frustration etc against them. Just as God has forgiven you, you will become aware that He has also forgiven them. So who are you to hold them to higher account than He?

 

2: Pursue God together. (Oh, number two is a God thing to… sorry, maybe you should look at finding out more about Him)

I don’t mean via a formal study either. I mean talking about the issues that come up in your lives every day. Discuss them with reference to your knowledge of God and His ways. If nothing else, it will give you something to do. Something important that you can do together. Something that you will both have days as teacher and days as student doing. You and your spouse are not the same person, and will see most things with a slightly (or completely) different view and so will both have opportunity to help the other. It’ll give you things to disagree on! Woo Hoo! Better not get ahead of myself, disagreements are point 3… but most of all it gives you someone to bounce ideas off, share your victories and failures, and learning together will bind you closer. Of course this applies to pursuing anything/one, but referring to point number one, this has a dual benefit.

3: When you disagree, argue it out.

It’s ok. You will do the wrong thing sometimes and you will be dead certain that you are right. Your spouse will do likewise. If you don’t fight, you will both continue to believe you’re right and they’re wrong and it will divide you. Fight may be too dramatic of a word, though sometimes it’s necessary, but you each need to at least present your case.

Not only that but, there are things that you believe, right now, that you need to be challenged on. Trust me, so many of my beliefs and attitudes have changed because my wife bluntly told me I was being dumb, arrogant, rude, selfish… It is great when your spouse tells you that you’re being a proud, rude, selfish jerk, and they are correct. You may hope that they don’t call you all of those at once, but to be fairly rebuked and proven wrong by your most beloved, hurts a lot less than by a stranger and is better than persisting in it.

 

4: Don’t speak ill of your spouse.

This comes with a small caveat that it doesn’t apply to seeking wise council or even occasional venting to a trusted friend.

No, this is about maintaining pure thoughts. It’s a psychological truth that the more you talk (or think) about something, the more you perceive it. So many people (nearly everyone in my experience) come to work and bitch and moan about what their partner has done that upset them, was stupid or foolish etc etc. It is inappropriate. The same goes for jokes at their expense. If you are laughing together, fine. If you are laughing with your work colleagues, that is mockery and that is wrong.

Just Don’t do it.

The more you talk about their flaws, the more you will think about them and the more you will see them.

The converse applies just as much: talk your spouse up whenever possible and to whomever will listen. Not in a “my wife is better than your wife” kind of way, but get excited and share about the things that they do that you think are amazing, great or even just special to you. Build your spouse up in love, whether they are present or not.

This is my most powerful piece of worldly advice on relationships, so I’ll say it again:

Don’t speak ill of your spouse.

 

5: Be the first to apologise.

Don’t make a competition of it or anything silly like that though.
Arguments/fights are almost never fully one sided. Take some time to thoroughly examine yourself and your position/actions/words in the conflict. What did you do/not do that upset your wife? Or even didn’t proactively seek to reconcile with your wife? Apologise for them. NOW. Send a text if you’re apart.

Some words on apology that my wife has taught me.
a: I’m sorry but…” is not an apology.

There is no ‘but’ in an apology. That’s called an excuse.

Don’t try to rationalise it, play it down or deflect it. If you are going to apologise, then that is all you should do. If you still feel the need to explain your situation, you can do that at a later time, once the conflict is resolved and you can talk together about the whole situation without wild emotions.
b: A blind “I’m sorry” is meaningless.
What are you sorry for? (Bonus points: great for kids to learn as well) At very least try to express that. Added bonus, you may learn that you totally misunderstood what your wife was upset about and then be able to apologise for a whole different situation when she explains it to you!
c: Being sorry requires action to attempt to stop the situation reoccurring. 100% chance of failure in many cases, but if there is no effort to stop it happening again, you weren’t really sorry. The best thing about this though is it will stand you in good stead to having a wonderful long lasting relationship with ever decreasing conflict.

 

6: Random special things.

Kinda self explanatory really. Just keep doing them. Whether it’s a bunch of flowers, a little note, finishing work a bit early to surprise them, or taking them out for coffee, all for no special reason. Just because you love them and to remind them that you are thinking of them when you are apart.

 

7: Change for them.

Our society tells us that you are who you are and no one can make you change. In a way, that is true and it makes this a powerful way of showing your love.

No one can make you change, but you can choose to.

It may be the music you listen to or tv you watch, it could be the way you like the toilet roll to sit or the food that you like, your spending habits, the sport you follow, the exercise you do. The list is endless. Choose to do what your wife likes. Choose her happiness over your own and you may find you have chosen joy for you both. Happy wife, happy life has much more truth to it than you may realise.

As an aside to this, I would also say “don’t ask your wife to change for you.” Counter cultural I know, but I believe that you should encourage them to be who they are, not who you want them to be. Plus, if you have a healthy relationship, they may also be excited to show their love for you by changing of their own accord.

8: Change your plans for them. Only occasionally tell them.

Sometimes, you will realise that what you wanted to do will make life hard for your wife. It could be recreation, work, socialising or anything else that you have planned, consider cancelling it. That is a powerful show of your devotion to her and putting her first. DO NOT MAKE A SHOW OF IT! Just quietly let her know that you’re not doing whatever it was. As with all honest actions of love, this is not about winning points or any such thing, if you find yourself in that mindset, you need to remember it is about her, not about you.

Which then brings up the option of doing this in “secret.” I can tell you for certain that there have been many times that I have made, changed and cancelled plans in my head never having told my wife what I want to do. It seems odd to say that not telling your wife that you have chosen not to do something for her sake will help your relationship, but I guess a lot of the times what I have found is that you enjoy whatever you end up doing instead just as much and your wife enjoys your company so it is double benefit.

This applies to long term plans to. Although you must remain independent people, some of the plans that you had when you were single will no longer be feasible, especially with a family. I’m not saying abandon them all together, but you must accept that some will change how they look.

 

9: Your wife is more important than your kids.

Because if you leave a kid at the shops, your wife can just bake you a new one…. Wait, no that’s not what I meant.

It is actually pretty simple, but incredibly overlooked.

So many relationships break down because the husband and wife get so busy ensuring that the kids are the centre of attention that they forget to ever focus their attention on each other.

Sometimes it’s the simplest thing:
My wife and I have a routine most days that when I get home from work, where we sit down and have a coffee and discuss the day and plans for the next day or whatever comes up. The kids obviously want attention to and they do of course get affection and greetings while we make the coffee, but then they know it’s mum and dad’s time. It only lasts 10-15 minutes but it’s a really good chance for us as a couple to debrief and spend some time together before launching back in to whatever the afternoon has in store. Sometimes it’s a dull list of important tidbits of information, gathered through the day, that we need to tell each other. (As an aside, a while back we deliberately decided not to share everything instantly by sms as it’s better to have these things as kick starters into proper conversations. Remember, sms stands for SHORT message service, but relationships are built through long conversations.) Sometimes its just chilling out in each others presence. Yes, it’s hard when your kid desperately wants you to play right now, to say no. However it is always made clear that mum and dad are having a rest and a chat and we will play soon. Usually that ends with a hovering child peering into your coffee cup to make sure they don’t miss when you finish, but they understand the time frame.

There is also a danger of kids coming between parents. The old idea of divide and conquer or if dad says no ask mum can reach beyond getting your favourite snack. If parents aren’t on the same page, kids can pit them against each other and over time a battle that should be between child and parents becomes one between the parents with a child choosing whichever side benefits them, until it is too late.

You must put more effort into your relationship with your wife than into parenting because your parenting will be better when you work together. To work together, you must be on the same page, to be on the same page you have to discuss the page, to discuss the page you have to spend time together. Ergo, time invested in your relationship is time invested in parenting, even if parenting is not discussed in every deposit. You need to be united in how you raise your kids. If you disagree on something to do with parenting, the time to sort that out is when your kids are not present.

This also applies to planning to have kids. Many relationships have come to grief when expectations about having kids have not lived up to the assumptions of the partners. Whether it be one wants kids and the other doesn’t, timing of when to have them, how many, medical inability to or the simple fact that God does not allow them to be conceived for no discernible human reason. You must first hold tight to your first love and then reconsider your future hopes. After all, you married them for them, not as a means to a baby making end. If you did/do see your partner as a means to an end then you have much deeper problems than I can speak to.

To summarise:

“You were a girlfriend before you were a mother.”

Aunt Voula
My big fat Greek wedding 2

 

Since I’m on the topic, I’ll take the liberty of adding one more point, mainly directed at any men reading this.

When your wife goes out and you are home alone with your kid/s, do not text or call her to say that they are being obnoxious, naughty, difficult, crying, making a mess…. Etc etc. Just deal with it. They (generally speaking!) spend far more time with the kids than you do, let them have a break! A single message could throw off their whole night either with worry or irritation. You don’t need to tell them immediately, feel free to debrief when they get home. By then it will probably have lost it’s sting and you can have a good laugh together about it.

10: The attraction of the unknown, curiosity killed the cat and the grass is always greener problem.

It’s the eternal malaise. Not just for relationships, but in all specters of life. To the point where I preached a sermon on it and then turned that sermon into a blog post… Here

Essentially, when you spend lots of time with someone, you will see flaws. When you look at other people at this point, you will find yourself curious to know if they have the same flaws and because the grass is always greener, will assume that they do not.
I have little doubt that this is where most affairs come from. It is easy to look at the next woman, wonder what it might be like to be with her and then have things go from there. No malice or burning lust, just simple curiosity left unchecked.

But of course, no matter how many women you have been with, there will always be another woman. So where am I going with this…?

Choice.

It’s quite simple really. Relationships last when we choose to make them last. I can’t stand that song “Accidentally in love” because love is not an accident. You don’t fall in love. Attraction, both physical and relational is unavoidable, but from there it is a choice to pursue.
So don’t even consider the faintest possibility of any relationship except the one you are in. Choose your wife every minute of every day. That is what you promised in your wedding vows.
Maintain your relationship. Work for your relationship. Invest in your relationship. Choose your relationship.
You can scrap it and start again, but I bet the next one is no better. It might be different, but it’ll still have the up’s and down’s, pro’s and con’s. To be clear, there are extreme exceptions, domestic violence etc but I am not speaking to that extreme.

An analogy perhaps:

If I want a beautiful garden, I can go out to my local garden store (or big hardware store, complete with fundraising sausage sizzle) and get a whole heap of potted colour. You know, those little pots pots of already flowering pansies, violet… I don’t know any more plant names… I can stick them in my garden all in neat little rows, or completely random, whatever style you like and very quickly have a garden that looks amazing and is full of beautiful blooms of every colour of the rainbow. It will be truly fantastic, pleasing to the eye and satisfying for the work of my hands. However, these are usually seasonal plants and within weeks, months at best, of finishing flowering they die off. So I go out and buy new ones. Over and over again.
Or
I take up gardening. I start from scratch, with tiny little seedlings, or even seeds. I learn about my plants and how to nurture them. What fertiliser they need, how much to water them, what other plants they  go well with. I invest time effort and money into helping them thrive. In the early days, it may not look like much, a couple of leafy but tiny shrubs and a scrawny stick of a sapling tree. As the years go by though, my garden flourishes and season after season it produces flowers and crops. Some times the foliage is all it presents, but I know that the next spring is just around the corner and it will burst forth in all it’s glory again. Not only that, but should my grass start getting a little more brown than the other side of the fence, I will investigate why. I will search for a reason until I can redeem it. I’ll be focusing on fixing my grass, not on how green in is next door.

 

In closing, I just want to say that these concepts come from two sources: Personal experience and observing those around me.
The old saying goes, “If you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning.”
I have seen both. There are several spectacular couples that I know and I could sit and listen to them talk about their relationship for hours and glean every last morsel of how they work together from them and apply it to my own. But at the same time I watch and listen to those around me and how they approach their relationships and so often I can pick up hints of what not to do, things to avoid or even as they look back and debrief with hindsight, learn where things went wrong. Usually things are  going wrong long before anyone realises, so if you can learn warning signs and avoid an issue before even the smallest hint of it enters you relationship, that’s a win and wisdom to learn.

Again to summarise with a catch phrase:
Marriage is not about finding the right partner,
It’s about being the right partner.

I hope you have gained something that you can use to strengthen your relationship and a new way to show your wife how much you love her. Now over to you, don’t just read it, do it!

Why veganism is a logical conclusion.

I’m a bit late on the bandwagon here as I haven’t had time to write down my thoughts. However, that has also given me some time to refine and hash them out a bit further.

Let me start by saying I am impressed and respect the passion and commitment of those who are willing to put their lives on hold, some even breaking the law for the pursuit of the cause. I respect the commitment, even if I disagree with the ultimate reason.

The way I see it, veganism is a very logical conclusion of pursuing the dominant world view in our society. In an evolutionary worldview, we are no “better” than any other animal. Slightly more advanced perhaps than some. Though even that is debatable based on definition of “advanced.” I mean, crocodiles can live for months without eating, octopus’ can fit through just about anything, sea turtles can navigate the oceans with no devices and find the same beach they were born on years later and so on. All very advanced in their own way and yet in typical human fashion, we are the advanced ones because we manipulate our environment rather than adapting ourselves to it. That’s a topic for another day…

So if we are all just animals, springing from the same primordial origin, then we have all had the same amount of time and opportunity to evolve/develop consciousness, conscience and self awareness. How that shows or can be assessed is all but impossible to determine. By observation, we see animals portraying actions that can be interpreted as these things, but without definitive communication we cannot be sure what is happening in their brain. This neither proves, nor disproves a conclusion.

Logically though, if everything is evolving, it is either conscious already or will be at some indeterminate time in the future, near or distant. If that is true, then veganism has a very strong case. How can knowingly killing another being with the same intellectual and spiritual (whatever that means in an evolutionary worldview) potential, be justified?

In only one way: kill or be killed, survival of the fittest, only the strong survive. The problem then becomes, why stop at (other) animals? Why is it not ok to kill people?

If evolution is the backdrop, there is no line. All life is sacred, or none is.

In an amusing twist, this also makes it “right” for evolution believers to do whatever they like to other humans in order to protect lives. If all animals are equal, then farmers are slave traders and slaying them is not murder, it is liberating captives. The same as assassinating a dictator is the job of a peace keeper.

You may have guessed, I am not a vegan. I have no problem with eating meat, or keeping animals to produce other products that we eat or use. By extension, you may guess that I do not hold an evolutionary worldview. No, I believe in direct creation by God as described in the holy scriptures. Why does that matter? Well, it is an alternate view to evolution. In this case, I want to focus on the special creation of humans.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the ground.”” Genesis 1:26-28
We alone are described as created in the image of God. Furthermore, we are given dominion over the earth; plants, animals and inanimate. By combining these two facts it is clear that this is not the dominion of an overbearing dictator, more the responsibility of a caretaker. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 However, when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in disobedience to God, their eyes are opened to that knowledge. One of the first things that they notice is that they are naked and because of that they are ashamed. Now I’m not 100% sure on the theology of naked=evil but I am told that it is representative of being exposed and known, they can see the evil desires and actions in one another and are ashamed of what the other can see in them.
Before: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:25
After: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:7
And: “He answered, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”” Genesis 3:10
The opening of their eyes is a direct result of eating the fruit, however that action in itself is an act of disobedience to God, which has the consequence of being banished from the tree of life. As always, the serpent technically didn’t lie, eating the fruit didn’t result in death, but without access to the tree of life, they will physically die.

Before God banishes then, He responds by killing an animal and taking the skin to cover them with. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 In this case the word “cover” is the same word that can be translated as atonement. The Lord himself takes the life of an animal, to make atonement for the sins of humans, providing for their need to cover their shame. Every animal that dies so that we can eat and be clothed etc should be a reminder that there is a debt to be paid so that we can live.

It is not until after the flood that we receive further directions on the matter. When Noah and his family emerge from the ark, God grants him some new privileges, but also consequences. “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given in to your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”” Genesis 9:2-6
This is the first time that permission is given to eat meat. Animal sacrifices have been presented to God, but now humans are permitted to kill and eat. Also again reinforcing the difference of man from all other animals

My key points so far are: humans and animals are distinct and there is no theological problem with killing animals to provide for human needs. Initially, there was no distinction among animals, but later God declared some clean/unclean under the old covenant (representing the setting aside of the nation of Israel), however Jesus declares them all clean again in His new covenant.

All of that is to be seen under the ultimate guidance of the original directive: oversee the creation, using it as necessary, under the provision of caring for it.

For me, I don’t believe animals are sentient in the sense of self awareness ie:
“I think, therefore I am”

Just put “define sentience” into Google and it’s pretty clear why I feel the need to be specific. That’s another factor muddying the waters of this conversation, words don’t mean the same to everyone.

I have previously said that part of humans alone being in God’s image is consciousness/self awareness/sentience derived from having a soul. However, my wife pointed out to me that that is an assumption. While consciousness is a good argument for special creation (very hard to explain naturalisticly), special creation does not preclude animals having souls or consciousness.

Sure there is difference in intelligence, but as far as eating potential, my position is “If it’s wild caught or raised for human consumption, I’ll eat it.” The distinction I draw is that I wouldn’t eat, or kill, someone’s pet. That is a division of the specific animal, which I draw because a person has attachment to that animal, which imbues it with additional value. For example, I wouldn’t eat your pet rabbit, but have no problem with eating a farmed one. I would apply the same to dog, but it’s not commercially available in Australia. If I see a cat on the road in suburbia, I will do my utmost to avoid running over it, someone probably loves it, if it was in the country, I wouldn’t hesitate to run it over. Any number of times I have looked at my dog (a west highland white terrier) and thought, “Gee you look like a fox.” Foxes are one of the most hated animals in Australia and I have shot a few of them. People also keep them as pets and I am willing to bet that they see just as much character in their pets as I see in my dog. I don’t think that is because wild and domestic ones are different, just that we see what we consider to be human traits when we look at an animal long enough.

Finally a word on welfare. The importance of stewardship cannot be emphasised enough. I do not know how suffering is defined in an animal of less sentience than a human, but I do know that we should not seek to cause it. In the same way that eating the fruit didn’t cause death, it seems to me that the heart of the person is the determining factor of whether our treatment of animals is right or wrong. If we deliberately seek to cause or uncaringly allow suffering to continue, then we are not caring for creation and not fulfilling our mandate. To make it personal, I will continue to go fishing as I am not there with the intent to cause harm. I will endeavour to treat the fish I catch (or lose) with respect and the utmost care. Not because I believe that they experience pain as we do, but because violence and disrespect are character traits contrary to a caretaker. The onus is on the character and therefore behaviour of the individual, to be more like our King, Jesus, who provides for and administers his kingdom with compassion.

What does that mean when it comes to live exports? Or indeed any mass transport of livestock, factory farms, battery hens etc? Well first and foremost, personal responsibility. Each person in the chain (farmer, truckie, yard hand etc) should be doing due diligence on their own practices to be as compassionate and respectful as possible. Again assessing the heart. If you work with animals, you will have animals die. That is not an excuse to be greedy though. Best practice doesn’t mean each animal has its private lounge with a barista, masseuse and nightly John Butler trio concert but nor is it jamming as many as possible in and hoping for the best. However that must be tempered and followed closely by the fact that humans come first.

Always.

This is what bothers me about the extreme protesters. Imagine if all that energy was put in to saving humans from the slave trade. Helping people escape from neglect and malnutrition. Getting people away from abuse. How much good could we do if we took the energy that is expended on animal ‘rights’ and invested it in human rights?! As I said earlier though, if you are of a worldview that says we are all animals, then prioritising innocent animals over brutal, cruel humans makes perfect sense. My worldview says that every single human being, regardless of what I think of them because of what they have done or not done, is of almost infinitely more value than any animal. It also says that they are culpable for and will be punished for poor treatment of the creation that they are supposed to be stewarding, though that is for God to do not me. For that reason, I do not give to animal related charities, but only to ones dedicated to helping people. That is my choice and I don’t ask or expect anyone else to agree or copy my decision.

To sum up, veganism and complete animal liberation makes sense under the prevailing western world view. However, under a Christian world view, we are permitted to catch, keep, work, kill and eat any animal, under the provision that we do it without malice, violence or greed, as is fitting for a believer in all areas of life. To be clear, that is a permission, not a command. As with everything, we may use what God has given us, but through self reflection and the leading of the spirit, ensure that we are not abusing it. 

It is certainly not a cut and dried subject, and veganism has just as much grounding in logic as any other choice, perhaps more. I hope it has given you some food for thought.

Summer mornings

A parallel to Winter mornings

4am my alarm goes off.

For a moment I don’t recognise it as it’s the first time my new phone has been used as an alarm clock.

I roll out of bed and silence it as quickly as possible. A fraction of a second worth of thought on temperature and I throw on the shorts and thongs option. I never really thought it would be cold enough for long pants and sneakers, but had set them out as well, just in case. Grabbing my water bottle and keys on the way past, I’m in the car in just a minute or two.

The eastern horizon already has a slight glow from the approaching dawn. Bummer, I really should have started earlier, but the thought of setting an alarm starting with a 3 makes me cringe. They say you have to be running your lures by first light to have the best shot. I’m not going to make that, but just maybe before dawn.

The temperature is confirmed by my car as low 20’s. Very pleasant.

The forecast is for strong easterly winds which can make for hard work, but certainly not unfishable. It’s not until I’m about 3/4 of the way to the coast that I notice the flags and trees flapping. Yep, it’s windy, but also definitely easterly so not a worry.

445 I am unloading and my regular companion Brendon pulls in at 450. He can do that, having a trailer saves a lot of set up time. I comment that I’m not going to bother with a headlamp and am considering leaving my beacon light in the car to. The response is that although it’s light, it is technically not dawn so I should still use it. Fair enough. Brendon comments on not having any fresh squid, our usual bait and suggests that since it is light, he may stop on the way out to try to secure a couple. Fine by me, but I am all about trolling this trip. With Spanish Mackerel reports beginning to make their way onto fishing forums I am super keen to add a new species to my list and some tasty fillets to my belly.

The tide is low so its a long drag down to the water. I wait a few minutes for Brendon, but decide to abandon my companion as I begin to feel like I wasted such an early start by not being early enough.
I stow my thongs in the hatch and pull ‘Providence’ out to knee deep before deploying transducer, rudder and mirage drive. Best thing about summer launches: the water is beautifully warm. I briefly imagine how much of a problem getting wet to my waist on a winter morning would be and then get back to enjoying my peddle out.
I potter around for a bit fiddling with my sounder. It’s ‘new’ in that it has been used less than half a dozen times even though I have had it for several months. Change a setting here, change the display there. This mornings victory was setting up the three way split screen to have side scan (sorry: sideVu if you want to use the garmin terminology) taking up the top half of the screen and then traditional sounder and map sharing the bottom half of the screen. I keep the traditional sounder image open to cross reference as I am trying to understand what the side imaging is telling me that is useful information ie, what does a fish look like? What does a school of small fish look like? What does a steep drop off or a rock look like? My sounder does not contain any built in contour maps, nor is it equipped to take external maps. However, it does have a nifty little feature that allows you to draw your own maps in real time and store the information for future use. Essentially, you start with zero information, but can quickly build up a map of areas that you fish regularly in 40m wide swathes as you fish or transit. I must admit, I find it fascinating to watch it draw and spent much of my last session just watching the contour lines appear and figuring out where they would join up.

Anyway, as I don’t want to waste storage space, I hadn’t turned that feature on yet, but decided that I may as well deploy my lure just to check that it was going to swim correctly. 50m later it was clear that it would and I figured, ‘Hey, might as well leave it out’ So I stuck the rod in the holder and relaxed back into a comfy peddling rhythm.

My mind drifted to the possibilities for the morning as I considered how much south was in that easterly and if it was enough for me to worry about as I would be heading north shortly. Though at this point I was heading almost due west and the South westerly swell would spray across the bow occasionally. That warm water is quite pleasant when it hits you in the face, but with the movement still cools you down from the work of peddling.

When line started pulling from my reel I thought I must have passed a shallow section and gotten snagged, but it quickly became apparent that line was disappearing much faster and less consistently than I was travelling.

OH! FISH!

I had a pretty good inkling of what the culprit would be, but given I didn’t expect anything to be crunching my lure that far from any structure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions. It was a solid fight, though probably only a minute or two long, with the fish taking several powerful runs. As it drew to a close I noticed two boats headed my way. I didn’t really want to make a scene, hoping that the passers by, would do just that. I lowered the rod tip being careful to do it slowly, not allowing any slack, to disguise the fact that it was attached to a good fish and hoped that the delay wouldn’t end in disaster. I began peddling forwards to keep tension on, towing the fish and also moving away from the boats. One boat blasted by but the second slowed some 150m south west of me. Oh No! I am discovered! They then began the process of dropping anchor and I realised that their stopping had nothing to do with me, I had just hooked my fish close to ‘their spot.’ None the less, I tried to be inconspicuous about reaching around for my gaff, taking 4 or 5 goes at actually gaffing the fish and gently sliding it aboard.

img_20190106_053016

To say I was stoked is something of an understatement. To get a solid snapper before even getting to the area I expected to fish was a most welcome surprise. Smartass me quickly snapped a photo of the fish and sent it to Brendon who was still inshore, with the caption “Do you want fish or squid?” And posted on yakfishwest facebook page how nice it is having a good fish on board by 530am.

With the fish dispatched and onto the back deck, I was on my way again. When I discovered a ridge that quickly dropped from around 6m to 8 or 9 I began recording and made several passes to map it for another day. The few arches that showed on the deep side of it also served to hold my attention for a while. By now Brendon had joined me and he dropped a few baits around but also without success. We decided to head off for what we were actually there for and began our troll in earnest.

As we approached the area of interest, we each spooked a couple of flying fish. Cool critters, especially when you’re down at their level. I noted water temperature as 21.5, perhaps a little cold, I’m told that the magic number is 23.

Having been shown a picture in Navionics of the target area and memorised the land based line up points to put us in the ball park, I had a vague idea where I was going. I knew I was looking for a ridge with drop offs either side, but I was running parallel with it and didn’t know the depth at either shallow or deep side. So while I zig zagged hoping to stumble upon the drop off, or rise, Brendon was scrolling through his Navionics trying to find on a map, what I was looking for in real time. We both found it at about the same time, but were far enough apart that although I could understand that he was saying “you have gone past it,” he was up wind and couldn’t hear me responding “no it is still getting deeper.”

I made two runs up and back, crossing back and forth over the drop off before deciding that with the wind not backing off at all, I was going to need all of the 40 minutes I had to get back in. Brendon opted to come with me and we set off.

It was a wet ride pushing back into the swell, but it felt glorious in the morning sunshine. I quite enjoy riding over waves in my Revo, even leaning in to the drop occasionally to drive the bow through the waves and flood water across the deck.

As I watched the final drop off bottoming out on my screen, I wondered how far back did I actually run the lure? When will it be crossing that point?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!

Oooh! There it is! This fish pulled line much faster and for much longer than the first. I couldn’t believe that just maybe, I was going to get a snapper and a mackerel in the same session. I tried to remain calm as I tightened the drag a bit and turned the kayak back to face the fish. Then that terrifying feeling of the line going slack. I wound like a mad man and the tension came back on as the fish made another short run. Yet again it ran towards me and I struggled to keep up. As I caught up I felt the shudder of a head shake, followed by the rhythmic pulse of the lure swimming back to me. The fish had shaken it free. Interestingly, the wire leader came back as a perfect 180 degree curve. My prediction is that the fish was hooked on the outside of one side of its face and when it turned after the first run, the wire ended up across its mouth. First run, the hook is pulling towards the back of the fish, second run, because of the wire, it would be pulling to the front, hence the dislodged lure.

Brendon confessed that it was his fault, he had just turned his gopro on.

I quickly redeployed the lure and doubled back for another pass over the immediate area, knowing full well that it would make me late home. No further joy so I continued heading in, being sure to pass over where I caught the fish on the way out.

I stopped briefly just before getting back to the beach to get a nicer picture of my fish with a bit more sunlight.

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The sun was a bit too bright and high already unfortunately.

I happily jumped out while still waist deep and had a refreshing little dunk before pulling ‘Providence’ up the beach. Quickly adjusting position for best lighting I rolled out the truth measure, and the fish went just over 70cm. Snapped a nice shot on the brag mat before packing myself up and heading for home, barely 3 hours after arriving.

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It’s always a nice feeling driving home with a solid fish to show for the early start. Being out and back before the day gets hot, you have accomplished something, done some exercise and set the day rolling.

I can’t wait to do it again,

maybe I’ll even get there for first light.

 

Post script: Had another dedicated trolling session this Sunday. Pre-prepared more on Saturday,  got up 10 minutes earlier, was fishing by first light. Just under 3 hours of solid peddling for one under size Sampsonfish caught on return within 10 minutes of the beach. At least my early morning peddling doesn’t involve Lycra.

Westport Taskforce submission

To whom it may concern,

I wish to make a submission to the Westport taskforce in relation to the “What we have found so far report.” My interest in the matter is primarily from the view point of a recreational fisherman. As a fisherman I consider myself very conservation minded as I am well aware that good environmental management ultimately means more fish to catch. I will therefore direct almost all of my comments to the Environmental work stream. I first became interested in the taskforce in early 2018 when the Western Harbour Alliance plans for large scale increase to the Kwinana outer harbour became public. I was extremely concerned as it was presented as a ‘done deal’ and I could see it would be environmentally questionable. Although, I was initially sceptical of how bad it could be, after all, many fish live in and around both of the current inner and outer harbours and in fact they provide good structure and habitat for just that. However, with a bit of further research I came to understand exactly how disastrous it would be as the works required, including dredging and land reclamation for construction alone would probably push the already stressed and fragile nursery area past breaking point.  It was with great relief that I discovered it was just one possibility and that Westport had been set up to investigate and plan for the middle to long term future of ship borne commerce in Western Australia.

I have no qualms being upfront that I have no formal qualifications in any area associated with this but in the spirit of the “working with nature philosophy” I wish to have my voice heard as we pursue win-win solutions for economic development, the environment and social amenity, when the capacity to secure benefits are highest. I have however taken a keen interest and have read much from people who have qualifications and have done the research to back up what they say. So when the statement: “If this Port goes ahead, then potentially the only place that snapper will breed in the West Coast Bioregion, is in a lab.” Comes from Recfishwest, I find that very disturbing.

I will briefly comment that it would appear to me the greatest opportunity for a complete master planned shipping hub in the long term is in Bunbury. I came to this conclusion from what is presented in the report. It has the greatest accessible land area, much of which is currently unused or rural. This gives great opportunity for all forms of industry to claim as much space as they need for their task. It also removes the constraints of existing urban areas which limit road and rail development and access. Although all options are presented as ‘close to capacity’ in their networks, both Kwinana and Fremantle are constrained by existing, limiting, development, whereas Bunbury can be set out from the start as an industrial area with buffers, vast road and rail networks and any other required infrastructure. This will require the greatest amount of development, as it currently has the least, but when planned over the long term it also has the best chance of being ‘done right.’
I also would like to know what the possible term is for maintaining containers at Fremantle inner harbour is if all of the ‘efficiency upgrade’ mentioned in the report come to fruition.

Ie: “Fremantle has the physical capacity within its existing footprint to handle a substantial increase in container trade and to continue in its role as a conventional cargo trades port (e.g. vehicles, livestock and scrap metal). Future growth may be accommodated by adjusting berth allocations, channel dredging, berth strengthening, increasing the number of cranes, automation, improving container handling equipment and improving the container terminal interface with road and rail infrastructure.

  1. Additional container capacity increases are possible at Fremantle by undertaking further

works, including modifying berths.” (P.41)

Will this be sufficient time to get Bunbury up and running as a container port? That seems the best proposal to me. Kwinana is not set up for containers and need never be. Fremantle can become passenger only once Bunbury is set up to take over all container trade.

Latitude 32 is an unfortunate situation as it would appear someone has jumped the gun and promised development before it was endorsed. I feel that this is a consequence that investors will have to absorb. The land could perhaps be used in conjunction with bulk trade out of Kwinana.

My greatest concern is that pure economics and short sightedness will see Kwinana developed at great cost to the ecosystem of Cockburn sound. I wish to be clear that this is not about ‘my fishing spot’ or any similar personal motivation, but an understanding of the unique geology that creates an entirely essential nursery area within the waters of the sound. To quote Tim Barlow of Tim’s Tackle Plus who put it very succinctly: “With the benefit of hindsight and modern thinking we would never have established heavy industry in such a valuable piece of land. We would also have sited it (away from) the population centre so that pollution was minimised. We didn’t however, so the focus must now be on preventing any more damage.”
What makes it so valuable is the geology, found only in three locations in our state, Exmouth gulf, Shark bay and Cockburn sound. That being, a body of water that is exposed only to the north, providing protection from almost all regular prevailing conditions. All three of these locations are recognised as significant nursery areas for many species of fish and also many, many other animals, all because of that protection.
I completely understand and agree with the reports statement “it can be difficult to build new or expand existing infrastructure that is essential for WA’s economic prosperity without having an impact on the environment” (P.60) however, the risk of increasing industry in Cockburn sound is too great and consequences much further reaching than the waters that it immediately affects for any plan involving significant change to the environment to go ahead. You could build an entirely new port on any west facing stretch of WA’s coast and the effect would be only local, build it in Cockburn sound and the effects will be seen right across the west coast bioregion and possibly beyond. I would also like to mention that in my personal experience, the ‘Indicative area of pink snapper spawning” (P.68) should run much closer to the coastline as I have witnessed aggregations of fish outside that indicated area. If I were a more cynical person, I may suggest that line was drawn so it would be outside the footprint of the WHA proposals land reclamation.

 

Finally, I was struck by the statement: “More comprehensive technical investigations, such as flora, fauna and ecological community surveys and mapping, high quality benthic habitat mapping and analysis, sediment fate modelling and detailed geotechnical studies (where required), are currently out of scope. These would generally be undertaken when a preferred option is endorsed by Government in the lead-up to an Environmental Impact Assessment process.” (P.71)

This sounds very much like putting the horse before the cart to me. Surely before a government can endorse a plan, they would need to know its environmental impact? What if they endorse a plan and it is not environmentally viable? Should this not be part of Westport phase 2?

 

In closing I would like to thank you for the work being done by the taskforce. Although many people feel that it may be influenced by politics and lobby groups, I am still willing to carry more faith in the system than most. I know that you will never convince everyone, but I urge you to do everything in your power to truly maintain your independence and to reassure the public of it as well.

Thank you for your time and work.

Sincerely,

Joel Tinetti