All that glitters is not always goldens

As I look back on 2016 and what it offered on the fishing front, it was a year of notable firsts.

Sure, my first wahoo again eluded me, but I was pretty happy with a few new notches on what is a pretty ample piscatorial belt, both literally and figuratively.

I caught my first WA bonefish, my first south coast dhufish and my first south coast giant herring.

Captain Ahab’s hoo-doo

I was hoping, nay certain, 2016 would finally be the year of the wahoo for this little black duck.

These oceanic speedsters have been my angling nemesis and I entered the year hoping my wahoo drought would finally end.

In fact it would be wrong to call it a drought as that would suggest I once had success on wahoo, when in fact I had never caught even one heading into this year.

Many of my angling acquaintances would claim this inability to catch a wahoo is a reflection of poor angling skills, but this is sheer folly and I would refute this assertion in the strongest of terms.

Fish and survive

The year was 1992.

I was back in my old hometown of Albany for the wedding of the man I like to call “The Buffoon” – old school mate Marcus Keizer.

Even then, as a relative youngster, The Buffoon was known for his capacity to stuff up and cause disaster.

The Buffoon, Cameron Finnie and I had some time to kill before the wedding so decided to head to the Salmon Holes for a spot of fishing.

Although Cameron were both keen fishos, The Buffoon was a mere novice, having only tried his hand from the Mandurah Traffic Bridge and in a few trout streams around the South-West.

At the time, I had never fished off the rocks at the now infamous Salmon Holes, despite having been there many times beach fishing as a teenager.

Inquiry jumps the shark

When Nick Schoevaart caught a massive 4.5m tiger shark one cold evening near Albany earlier this year, he was initially elated.

Nick and a couple of mates were specifically fishing for sharks, as they and many other gun young south coast land-based anglers have done many times, when the big tiger took their bait.

It truly was the fish of a lifetime, yes I said fish, and Nick fought the shark for around 90 minutes.

Trap plan highlights shark issue

If you need any evidence of the community value and significance of recreational fishing, then you only needed to be at the Woolshed in Carnarvon on the evening of March 3 this year.

Nearly 400 locals, a very big turnout for a relatively small town, turned up in their own time to express their concerns over a plan to reintroduce trap fishing into Gascoyne waters.

The plan was to ‘trial’ commercial fish taps until August 2018, and it was not going down well with locals.

Rec fishers prove Sound guardians

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Last November, the metro recreational fishing community was rocked by a major fish kill in Cockburn Sound.

Hundreds of pink snapper, in particular, washed up dead over a couple of weeks.

Many of them were big mature breeders.

The voiced concerns of anglers, especially on social media, eventually led to the Perth media picking up on the kill.

Puzzling Pacific plunder

The sheer folly of the high-profile push for large angler lockouts in Australian waters was only highlighted by my trip to the tiny Pacific atoll of Kiritimati last October.

We were there to fish for bonefish, and somewhat ironically the quality of this fishery – arguably the best sportfishery for bonefish on the planet – only continues to improve since the banning of netting inside the lagoon at Kiritimati.

One perfect fish

I caught a trout.

What’s that, you say? You caught a trout?

Yes, I caught a trout.

Nothing inherently unusual in that, you might think, but I have marked down Monday, September 7, in the annals of my personal angling history.

For while there would be nothing particularly remarkable about catching a trout, just one, of around a kilo, this was a fish I’d been dreaming about for years.

To get to the heart of this story and why this fish meant so much, I need to go back around 30 years, to my teenage years in Perth.