Cape Conran Again – Day One

5am start and we headed out to get some gummy sharks at the turn of the tide. Nearly as soon as we had dropped anchor the skipper pulled one up. However, from there on our it was slim pickings.

Soon we moved to the flathead spot and tried that for a bit. We got one or two, the highlight was the skipper pulling up an enormous flathead.

The skipper and my dad continued to pull up flathead. I wasn’t having a problem getting fishing – but they were nearly all gurnards. The other would get one or two, but for me it was nearly only that. We also got a few Morwong. I was getting frustrating I think the culmination was this bad boy:

Soon a seal came by to check our fish out. I finally hooked a flathead, and I was sure the seal was going to appear from nowhere. I kept my rod tip in the water, soon enough I got the flathead to where I could see it, and presto a massive brown shape charged at it. I launched the rod tip upwards and the seal only just missed by centremetres and it burst through the surface.

Interestingly, the skipper got a gurnard soon after that, and the seal swam straight to it, changed its mind, and just hung around. Not interested in the spikes I guess.

We hung around for the next change in tide, marking 13 hours on the water. I got back extremely knackered and was barely able to make it past 9pm. Of course I got to wake up and do it all again the next day.

Caught:
Me: 3 flathead, a couple of Morwong
Dad: 5-8 flathead
Skipper: Gummy shark, 7-10 flathead, a couple of Morwong

Story of the trip:
I thought I had seen idiocy before at the boat ramp. Nothing compared to what happened when we got back. There were spearfishermen and snorklers getting around the ramp and boating channel with no markings, nearly invisible. Kayakers were launching there. One launched and fell out of their kayak about 2 metres from a running prop (why wait until the boat is out of the water?). Someone drove their boat trailer directly onto rocks while he was going forward, he wasn’t even near the part where you need to start reversing.. and he struggled to get it off (and this is a guy the swimmers are trusting not to run over them!).

Mt Buffalo – Day 3

Woke up after a warm night thanks to cloud cover and it wasn’t long before it started to rain. I got a bit of reading done in the car, and soon we decided there wasn’t much to be done but make the best of it. We went to where there was nice view and waterfall (Brad walked, the rest of us drove) and the waterfall was pretty cool. Given the heavy fog/cloud we were in, the view wasn’t to be seen.


Claire and I at the lookout

Towards lunch the weather started clearing and we were able to enjoy things a bit more. The kids were very keen to fish again, we went on a long walk around Lake Catani. The fishing was fun, some unknown campers from the other sides thought it would be fun to coo-ey us, and what followed was around 20 minutes of the kids coo-eying back. The day before Maddie had said “Dad taught me how to coo-ey, but now he says it’s annoying”. Classic gold from Brad.


Some more fishing

On the walk

And that was mostly it, Marshmallow time seemed to be the highlight of the kids trip, and probably Claire’s too. Even if our weirdo mate decided to join us in silence. Anyawy, figured I should throw in a photo of the kids loving it:

Only just got to bed before the rains started. It was a pretty wild night, we were right in a thunderstorm which wasn’t ideal.

 

MT Buffalo – DAY 2

We woke up after our freezing night and could see it was going to be a glorious day. We got the fire going in the morning to get rid of the chill, but by around 11am the sun was kicked in, it was about 25 (top of 28 I think) and we were ready for our first walk.

Brad had selected a nice easy and short walk for us to do. It said that we had to walk through a canyon, okay we imagined when they said ‘walk’ they meant it literally. We walked towards the top of the ridge stopping regularly for the pregnant wife, and perhaps a reluctant child every now and again. And when we made it to the canyon we were a bit surprised. There was some serious climbing involved! Probably not for me and Brad, and certainly not for Maddie who seemed to be the perfect size to scamper up and down, but for Claire and Isla it proved a bit challenging. Claire said she was up to the task, and with great care we slowly made our way down.


That small hole of light in the ceiling of the ridge is where we came from

Now she will tell the story that I made my poor pregnant wife go canyoning against her will and therefore I can never complain about what she does or eats again while pregnant, but that is just not true!

We got back after a great walk and I saw that the weirdo hiker had not left Nick’s campsite. It was quite frustrating to Brad and I that we didn’t have this area to ourselves. As we had lunch I was waiting for him to arrive so we could have a chat. Eventually he came and I asked if he was leaving, he said he wasn’t. I explained that Nick was coming and he could take an hour or two, but he would need to leave as we had booked that site. He said no worries, he would just move to the one next to us, that the two people had just left. I took a deep breath. Yes you can, if you really want to, but since we have a lot of children we are a bit aware of them and the noise and how they are running around. Since the whole place is empty and there are forty campsites available, we would prefer for you to stay elsewhere. He immediately said ‘yes yes I’m sorry I will move’.

So Brad and Ains (and later Nicko) thought this was expertly handled and very well done. Claire, who as Brad observed “actually genuinely likes people” was not happy with me. Apparently he was just a misunderstood guy with no friends who is holidaying by himself and probably just wanted a bit of company.

Now the only negative thing about Lake Catani campsite (where we were) is that
a) they have communal campfires
b) you have to pay for your wood
Which makes for a really odd dynamic. People who don’t want to pay for wood can literally walk up to the fires of those that do. And I predicted that he would come to our site, since he was a weirdo. The way I looked at it, if he came to our site I would know he was a weirdo and that I handled things well. If he kept to himself I would figure Claire was right and feel bad.

(Place bets now)

After lunch we headed up to the horn, which is the highest place you can get to. The views were amazing on such a clear day, we could see to the horizon and it was very blue.


On the trail

Views from the top

When we got back Nick wasn’t far away. Baxter was very excited, especially about cooking on the portable stove. Maddie really wanted to go fishing so we went for a walk. It was a beautiful day and it was surprisingly a lot of fun to teach them. I didn’t really know what I was doing when it came to trout fishing, so we didn’t get anything. Maddie was great at casts, Baxter thought that the lure was a small fish and was excited each time it was wound in, but I think the person who enjoyed it the most was Isla.


Afterwards we set up the fire and as soon as it was burning our friend the weirdo showed up to get warm. Despite Claire’s attempts at conversations he only answered in single words. The only time I saw any expression from him was a smile when Baxter asked Claire how the baby was going to get out of her belly. In fairness to him, on the walk back to camp we noticed where he had set up at lunch had recently become host to 7 female campers whose level of noise (i.e. squawking) indicated they were very happy to be there.

The kids toasted the marshmallows and then they went to bed, we all sat up and watched the cloud race over us. The benefit was that it was going to be a very warm night – I made a hot water bottle but couldn’t use it. However the forecast was for the rain the next day for most of the morning, so we were likely going to have to say goodbye to the blue skies.

Cape Conran – Day Three

Up early again on the last day and it was once again pretty cold on the water. Once again there was a line up at the boat ramp. I went down to see if anyone needed help in an effort to get us going a bit faster. The answer was that everyone did. Quite amazing how many people were putting their boats in danger, but anyway. We soon got underway and went back to the gummy shark place. There wasn’t anything for a while until BANG I locked up on something large. Unfortunately it stuck itself to the bottom and refused to budge, as I slowly dragged it up, I was pretty sure it was a skate. Well, I will take a bit of bit of action and a free knot/drag test, so I got it to the surface and got my gear back, before sending it on its way.

The amusing story for this was that I managed to get a small live baitfish for bait. Dad managed to get a live crab. We put both down there to see who could attract the gummy. After a while I couldn’t feel my fish moving, so I wound up to see what had happened and the crab was eating him! Aside from getting a massive tangle, he had taken my baitfish’s head clean off.

After that we went to the flathead spot. All of a sudden I was on fire. I pulled up about 5-6 flathead in a row, Dad didn’t manage any and the skipper had one or two. I used Dad’s old joke against him, asking if he needed me to show him how to hold his rod. Soon we went back to the mark and things got a bit quiet. It seemed it was quite difficult to figure out how to drift. The next move yielded great results, we were taking them up very regularly. I got my first double header, unfortunately the second flathead managed to wrap his tail around the braid so badly I gave up on getting it apart, and had to retie up during a gold 5 minutes of fishing.


Notice the braid wrapped around his tail, very annoying

We only had a few hours to fish, as we were out by 1pm so we could get on the road back home. I did manage to get a Red Butterfly Gurnard fish, who wrapped himself around Dad’s gear. I was a bit disappointing when I got him to the surface, as I thought he was going to be a monster, but actually I was dragging an extra sinker as well.

Caught:

A bit hard to say. I think I likely got around 15 flathead and the gurnard. The skipper got one gurnard too, probably 10 flathead. He got a few thumpers, I didn’t manage to get a real “photo flathead”. Dad got a bit less than him I think. All in all it was similiar fish than the day before, but it much less time. Minus the Gummy of course.

And that was it from Cape Conran, but I certainly would be keen to go back! Great fun.

Cape Conran – Day Two

Up early to get on the water by sunrise. We made our way out to the gummy shark location and I immediately started pulling up some flathead. Just small ones though, the one that was barely size got used for some bait. Pretty soon, the skipper was onto a gummy shark. After a decent fight, we had our first shark.

After that things went really quiet. We used the last of the burley and were about to head off when the skipper was on again. Unfortunately the runs stopped pretty quickly, and the “shark” seemed to be content to get to the bottom. When the skipper got it to the surface, our fears were confirmed it was actually a skate.

After that we headed off to the flathead location. When we arrived I baited my hooks, and hesitated to drop a line out. The trip over in 5-10 knots had got to me, and unfortunately I was now seasick. It wasn’t too bad but I stopped fishing for a bit hoping it would pass. That was unsuccessful and I retreated to the seat and managed to nod off for 10 minutes. When I woke I felt a bit better and ate a sandwich. A bit of a gambit, but I was hoping it would settle me. It did, and soon I was back in action.

We didn’t get anything for a while, until soon the flathead came on the bite. I got my first one, and my first Victorian fish in a while.

The fishing became reasonable for the next hour or so, I managed around 5 flathead, Dad had twice that, and I think the Skipper three times that.

Caught:
Me: 5ish flathead
Dad: 10ish flathead
Skipper: 15ish flathead & 1 gummy shark

One interesting thing was the damn Octopus… you wondered why you didn’t have a bite, go to wind up, and you could feel the weight there. They usually didn’t hook up, but they were everywhere and a real pain. The Skipper kept a few, wanting to try to cook them up. I have ordered them before in restaurants, but I really couldn’t be bothered.

Nevertheless it was a good day and we got a good feed.

 

Get off my line