Sunday Times Column
Tragic rock fishing death at Quobba Station
- Published: Thursday, 07 September 2017 09:56
The latest tragic rock fishing death at Quobba Station was yet another timely reminder of the need to always put safety first when fishing.
It follows hard on the heels of a recent death of a shore angler in Broome, when he came unstuck due to a fast rising tide.
While the Broome death was a very unusual one, there have been many lives lost along the rocky ledges at Quobba over the years, and countless more near misses.
I’ve visited Quobba several times and while we’ve never had a major scare, others I know have and there’ve been times we’ve been a little intimidated by the conditions and stopped fishing as a result.
This latest death occurred at High Rock, a spot which is something of a black spot for rock fishers.
We’ve often fished High Rock and it is a little unusual in that you fish facing north, meaning your back is to the swell pushing up from the South-West.
This can be a little unnerving even though you are around 10m above the water, but there is a safety chain along the top of the rock and the surest way to be safe is to stay behind that chain while fishing.
On one of our trips to Quobba we arrived only a week or so after three people had been washed in, with one perishing.
We went to look at High Rock and quickly came to the conclusion there was no way we were fishing it in the conditions, with massive waves threatening to push over the top of the rock at any point in time.
Amazingly, there were others fishing there and they weren’t even staying behind the safety chain, which left us scratching our heads.
As I said, we’ve never had a major issue at Quobba, but I can remember a wave crashing over the ledge at the Boundary, right near a plaque for an interstate angler who lost their life in that exact spot, and sending us scurrying back across the rocks.
There was also a day at Garth’s Rock when a rapidly rising swell made running the gauntlet back across from the rock to the track up the cliff extremely dangerous.
Fortunately, we never found ourselves with someone in the water, but those occasions reinforced just how easy it is for something to go wrong, and we’ve also seen people take some insane risks which put them directly in the path of danger just for the chance to catch a fish.
The old saying that no fish is worth dying for rings as true as ever, and fortunately anglers these days are more educated about rock fishing safety than ever.
There are a number of simple precautions you can take to ensure you return safely from a fishing trip.
There are countless weather websites which provide up to date info on the swell and conditions, meaning you can make an informed decision on whether it is worth wetting a line or not.
Even if conditions are suitable, you should wear specialised rock fishing boots and one of the modern lightweight PFDs, which are no impediment to fishing and mean you will be supported in the water until help arrives should the unthinkable happen.
You can also tie yourself off to the rocks, with many popular locations now having rock bolts installed for that very reason.
The most obvious way to stay safe though is simply don’t go fishing if the conditions look at all risky.
It can be hard to stay home when you have your heart set on fishing, but there’ll always be another day.