To go fishing can be a spur-of-the-moment decision — the stars have lined up so grab the gear and off you go, usually somewhere nearby to a local fishing hole, lake, river or channel. But a real fishing adventure usually takes planning; a lot of time, effort and anticipation go into setting up a decent fishing trip.
Veteran angler Kevin Tyler uses a four- or five-step plan depending on the location.
Take, for example, a day trip to Queenscliff. This entails a three-hour drive, usually very early in the morning as the fishing is dependent on the tides, and this means getting under way when sane people like to stay curled up in bed.
But before the journey is undertaken you need to research the potential outcome, or in other words: are the fish biting and, if so, what species?
This usually means a call to Rod Lawn from Adamas Fishing Charters, who operates along the coast around Port Phillip Heads. He will provide information on tide times and conditions as well as what fish are on the bite; he also provides all gear needed as well as bait, and during the day will coach and advise novice anglers, including removing fish from the hook and baits lines if you are a little precious about getting your hands smelly.
The hardest part in planning a trip is to get enough companions to fill the charter. This is important in controlling the cost of the adventure — locking names in is easy, getting them on the day is another thing — but once you have a commitment and a crew together, setting a departure time and a meeting place is the next step.
The anticipation of the journey and the outcome all adds to the excitement — memories of past adventures, who caught the biggest and most that time, who will be number one on this trip, the banter among companions, relating details of previous trips — it’s all part of a fishing adventure. Because that’s what it is — this is an opportunity to release the hunter-gatherer that hides away inside us all.
So, it’s a three-hour drive from Shepparton to Queenscliff: almost two hours to reach the city, 40 minutes to Geelong then a further 40 minutes to the boat, then half-an-hour of greetings, introductions for the newbies and a short briefing on boat safety.
Then motors are started, ropes are cast off, ‘yo ho ho’ and other nautical terms such as ‘where is your parrot?’ are bandied about, and it’s off to fish we go.
Rod outlines the game plan: this trip is to The Cottage, a well-known landmark between Queenscliff and the Heads to try for some squid. He said they had been hit or miss; if no bites happened on the first drop then we would continue on through the Heads.
He was prophetically correct — no bites, so off we went to chase snapper.
All lines baited and we were ready, once the drift was established over a mark shown on his sounder, Rod gave the command — lines in the water — and down they went. It is amazing how long it seems to take for the bait to reach the bottom, we were only in 30 m of water, but once the weight hit the bottom and the slack was taken up, we were fishing.
The action started not long afterwards. No, I was not the first one to get a bite — in fact there were several fish in the boat before I had an opportunity to strike. A miss. Take your time; another strike and another miss, finally a hook-up, 10 turns of the reel and it got off.
There were nearly half-a-dozen fish in the boat before I hauled one in. This was the infamous snapper smaller than the bait, but it was a fish — no bragging rights, but at least the dreaded naked run around the car park if a person does not boat a fish had been averted.
So the day went on. Not one of my better days fishing, but it was still a great day — plenty of banter, conditions that were not too severe and enough fish to make a nice feed when we got back home.
The good thing about going on a charter with Rod is he fillets and packs the fish so everyone, including the not-so-great contributors like myself on this occasion, gets to take home a feed.
Then the farewells and we face the three-hour journey back home, only this time we have the Melbourne peak hour traffic to contend with.
You breathe a sigh of relief when you reach the Hume and start heading north, with still a chunk of driving to go before you can finally relax, down a stubby and start telling stories of yet another great fishing trip.