Fishing Trips… 1


Our team, our families, friends and clients – doing what we enjoy most.  The escapades reported (and no doubt embellished) here are centred on Australia’s Gold Coast – edited only to remove the most outrageous slander – and gratuitous nudity.  We fish with cameras – so some of the pages will take some time to load.  Please be patient!

1: A Four Marlin Day
It was to be a “thank you” gesture to my son’s Year 6 teacher and Under 12 cricket coach.  Every kid should have an Andrew Philp in their lives…

2: Mal’s first Marlin
I wasn’t game to look up again for the next fifteen minutes as the fish and I slugged it out.  Down deep, up to the surface.  I missed a couple of good jumps. Off to the left then…

3: JB on the Barron
A tribute to Bobby Barrett.

For many years – in a previous life – I was an absentee father. Living for various periods of time in both Tokyo and Hong Kong – commuting often between the tourism wholesalers in nearly every…


A Four Marlin Day

Location: Australia – QLD – Gold Coast – 5 miles East of the Tweed
Words: John Polson
Pix: Chris Hurst

Sure – I’ve fished a bit over the last couple of years – and religiously carried my rod tube (on business trips – as you do) through all of the Asia Pacific region – caught a few – but nothing to write home about…

Until 22 January 2000.

It was to be a “thank you” gesture to my son’s Year 6 teacher and Under 12 cricket coach – an impressive young bloke who went way beyond what even this “picky” parent would expect of anyone. Every kid should have an Andrew Philp in their lives…

Andrew had never been Marlin fishing before – and neither had Colin Dobbie (another TSS father – with an unfortunate Scots accent) and Chris Hurst (my children’s step-father).

Also along on the trip was Ken Douglas – a Melbourne Copper who has been my marlin fishing coach for 3 or 4 years – knows his subject well – but can’t be trusted in a double hookup – always ends up with the fish. Even the ones that start off on MY rod! He can get from the tuna tower to a screaming reel faster than me – with a full glass – and not spill a drop. And he’s bigger than me – much bigger than me.

As always we chartered Jim Dalling’s ORCA – at varying times of the year Jim works between Lizard Island and the Gold Coast – and he’s forgotten more about marlin fishing than most skippers will ever learn. His wife told me that – and any one who has fished with Anne knows better than to argue. And she can COOK too!

We left Marina Mirage at 0700 (which always seems a lot earlier than 7am) and headed South East from the Seaway to the 24 fathom line East of the Tweed bar – trolling a pattern of lures for bait – with no takers.

Finally found the bait schools and spent a couple of hours filling the tanks with some very large scalies and yellow tail – and then we went fishing.  Don’t know why – because it was only 0900 – and we’ve never caught a marlin before noon. Obviously the little TwinFisher near us lacked this level of experience – they had two (about 150 lbs) tagged and released – and their bait tanks replenished by 1130. Even the bottom basher cruise nearby had one on (an Alvey?) for quite a while… Just goes to show how stupid marlin are – a perfectly good game boat with all the latest gear in the vicinity – and they jump onto the paternosters! Go figure.

So we get the cameras ready. We had LOTS of cameras. Old reliable cameras.  I had previously carried my little “you beaut” compact Pentax – 70 to140 zoom – automatic everything – fits in the shirt pocket – no hassle to carry – little pain in the arse.  Fish jumping all over the horizon – point camera – press button – auto focus leaps into action – and 20 minutes later takes a perfectly focused picture of a hole in the ocean.  Roll after roll – trip after trip – holes in the @#$%ing ocean!

But this time was to be different.  I’d dusted off a trusty old Canon AE1 – cleaned the crap of the lenses – polished the UV filter – and chased a couple of spiders out of the winding mechanism.  It once spent a couple of hours at the bottom of St Hilda’s pool – so a little salt spray wasn’t going to worry it.  Uncoupled the motor drive and checked the “through the lens” metering – working like a bought one – loaded it. Manually set the ASA rating – and switched off ALL auto facilities – this time we were going “hands on.” Chris had the best long lens (he pays retail) so he was in charge of long shots – I was to do the wide stuff – standard, idiot proof 55mm.

Then it was time to set the strike roster.  With this particular group of egos and prima donnas – one had to be very careful. Andrew was the guest of honor – he goes first – no arguments.  Chris & Colin could toss a coin for 2nd & 3rd – Colin has the more dominant (read – pushy) personality so no need for a coin – a Scot with a coin?  Ken would go next – to allow me to take the pictures.  Everybody happy?  It’s nearly noon – time to get ready…

I helped Andrew into my harness and belt.  Not a difficult task?  Well – actually – yes.  We are different shapes you see – and considerable adjustments were required… he lacks the advantage of my lower centre of gravity!  I put my camera strap around my neck and headed for the ladder – honest!

And then – right on cue (well – actually 15 minutes late) Jim shouted “Marlin in the spread” – and Flat 3 went off – big time.  Andrew headed for the rod.  Jim (again) “…and there’s a shark after it.”  I kept heading for the ladder – trust me!  Two hands on the rail – one foot on the first step.  Left rigger goes off – right under my armpit…

So – what would YOU have done?  Andrew’s busy with his marlin – Chris and Colin are upstairs talking about whatever City Council executives talk about on their day off (not an awful lot presumably) – and (for once in his life) Ken was nowhere to be seen.

I ripped the camera off and shouted for someone to take it – someone did – I grabbed the rod – hit the lever – set the hook – and gave it plenty.  The toilet flushes – Ken emerges – “how come Andrew’s got your camera and you’ve got his fish?”  Andrew?  My camera? Oh – Shit!  Andrew says “We can swap – we can swap – the marlin’s gone – I’m all belted up…”  It’s a bit hard to explain IGFA rules when you’re tied on to the shaky end of a very pissed off hammerhead…  Ken was VERY helpful -announcing to the now gathered ship’s company that HE would take the photos – just in case it was the day’s only fish…

He also said some unkind things about me once (a while ago) taking a large chunk of a 5 day charter to subdue a 700lb bronze whaler – but I wasn’t listening.  It was actually 1.5 hours – but this one was only a baby – and 10 minutes later we tagged and released a 150lb hammerhead – and one (very) embarrassed host mumbled apologies to his guest – and exiled himself to the upper deck – swearing never to return until everyone else had caught a marlin. 

Big call?

So – I settled in upstairs – checked the cameras – and wondered why Ken had only taken one picture of my struggle with the little shark – but Jim interrupts the thought process… “marlin in the spread – a good one.”  Deckie (Steve) lifts Flat 2 and points – freespool – freespool – gently eases up the drag – little more – little more – fish coming up – little more drag… It didn’t jump – it just oozed upwards – 20 meters back – up – up – then sideways – through the lines – knit 3 – perl 4 – 250/300 lbs skimming sideways.  MAGIC pictures – click – wind – click – wind – Andrew’s clipped in and doing everything dead right – Ken by his side – coaching – cajoling.  Steve has the tag pole at port arms – lurking.  Jim backing down – walking sideways – black smoke – deisel fumes – click – wind – click – wind… and the marlin had read all the right magazines – posed against the Gold Coast horizon – working the light angles like a super model.  MAGIC pictures – did I say that before?  And never more than 50 meters out – so I shouted to Chris to concentrate on Andrew – get the face shots – I had plenty of good fish pix.

Andrew by now had been at it for 45 minutes and was starting to look a lot unlike the fitness freak you would expect a private school sports master to be – decidedly shop soiled… Ken reaches over and eases up the drag – just a little – and calls for a big final effort – in VFL talk.  Two Melbournians together – one nearly dead – the other full of bullshit – and they’re talking football?  Or what they delude themselves with as football.  But it seems to work.  Steve lunges – tag in – Rob (2nd deckie) gets wraps – Ken leans over and eases off the drag – click – wind – everybody – click – wind – fish continues to pose – big smile – circle hook – nice and clean in the corner jaw.  Cut – splash – gone.  Andrew’s first marlin – 280lb!  High fives all round – slapped backs – huge rum and ginger beer – more dark than stormy – all that silly stuff…

While the 2 virgins and the newly converted game fisherman are doing all the emotional stuff inside – the two old hands (well… Ken and I) are knowingly sharing a rum on the deck – reliving our own first times (and emotions).  “Didja get the pitchers?” “Yup – magic ones – (checking) – 28 on a roll of 24 – pretty cool huh?”  “Better change the film now – shouldn’t push my luck.”

New baits out – rum stowed – I’m back “up top” changing the film – Chris is in the cabin also reloading – Colin is on strike – and Ken’s giving him some pre-race tips – confusing him no doubt… Jim calls “Marlin on right rigger – and Marlin on flat 2.”  Right rigger screams – Deckie grabs it and sets the hook – huge birdsnest! – sorts that out and buckles Colin in – rod pops out of bucket – and for a moment Colin forgets that it’s an overhead – can’t get it going with his left hand – finally gets it reseated right way up in the bucket – and gets a tight line back – and looks for help – help? – they’re all busy…

While Steve was introducing Colin to a little light bondage – Flat 2 went off – far too close to Ken. But Ken – being the most experienced of all of us – knew instinctively that this was a false alarm – one greedy fish taking two baits – right?  Crashed the drag all the way up to sunset – grabbed the rod – and whacked it several times – HARD – to break the line and give the fish back to Colin.  Always a generous soul, Ken. Smart too – he quickly figured out that the fish jumping madly towards him was probably not the same one that he could see galloping across the waves towards the Surfers skyline. “Chris! Put down that (bleep) camera and get here – you’re on!”  Jim – of course – had figured all this out ages ago – and by the time Chris took up the slack line (and Ken got his bucket buckled) – Jim had Orca’s starboard aft quarter within 20 meters of the fish’s freckle.

Now – your photographer (he with plenty of pictures already – magic ones) was vaguely aware that he was the only one still holding a camera – but frankly I was enjoying the whole scene below far too much to want a view finder obscuring the view…  Oh sure – I did snap a couple of Chris’ marlin desperately trying to escape the demon Dalling reversing down on him – and a couple of Colin looking over his shoulder – trying to figure out why he was being ignored – and 1 or 2 of his fish trying to attract his captor’s attention with some quite amazing acrobatics – but I already had all that good stuff in the can. I did however start shooting again when things started to get REALLY funny.

The combined efforts of Chris on the reel and Jim on the helm had quickly closed the gap between fish and fisherman – Rob (2nd deckie) wanted to try his hand/s on the trace – Steve was arguing that point when he sunk the tag home – tag pole was a straight down vertical shot – fish came up to meet it – right up – and (just like in the song) shook itself about – and then down (where else?).  No problem with any of this – except that no one had told Chris that when the deckie “had wraps” – to back off the drag… It was a remarkably quick release! – and Steve went off at Chris almost as loud as the rod snapping – until he probably realised who had done the earlier first-timers’ briefing.  He quickly regained his composure – and moved over to see how Colin was going.  Chris was left holding a recently customised “2 piece” 24kg rod – and a tag card which told him he had just caught his first marlin – 150lbs in slightly less than 5 minutes.

How was Colin going? Colin wasn’t going anywhere.  By now he had about 100 meters out – straight down.  His fish – obviously miffed by the total lack of attention – went deep – and stayed there for quite a while. And – for a while Colin performed as the front row forward he recently was.  But – as the shoulders drooped and the knees buckled – he started to speak pure Orstrailian for the first time in his life.  He was still holding the rod when Jim managed to plane the fish back to the surface – but was quickly losing interest in the job at hand.  There followed an interesting joint venture between him and a still fresh – still belted up Chris – but Chris couldn’t have contributed much – because Colin got the tag card.  His first marlin – 200lbs – 25 mins.  According to Colin at the last brown ale – it took 2.5 hours!

So it’s 4-3-3 and Ken is on strike.  I put away the camera – we had already negotiated a quiet little deal (so long as I kept quiet about it) that he could use some of Andrew’s (magic) pictures. Hell – I’ve used some of Ken’s in the past – he gets better looking holes in the ocean than I do.  We’ve fished the back deck together many times – and know how to keep out of each others space – and I knew something no one else knew – he had his lucky underpants on… and marlin #4 was just around…

Flat 3 screamed – wrong – it purred – since Chris’s little accident it had turned into a beautiful Tiagra 50W on a new custom 24kg rod.  I had noticed Ken sneak it out of the private rack earlier – but said nothing – I was up next!  Back to the action.  No pansy harness for Ken – he’s a big lad – and he probably wouldn’t have bothered with a belt either – except that his underpants – whilst lucky – were also SILK – and very, very thin.  So I buckled him up – and left the master to his craft.  Actually Jim did all the work – positioned the boat beautifully – few lazy winds of the Tiagra – bit of encouragement from me – beautiful tag shot and wire work from Steve – and Ken had the gall to claim his 26th marlin. 200lbs in 10 mins.  Hah – big deal!

Now it’s 5.4.4 (and don’t forget the shark) – it’s also 1600 – and it’s my turn on strike.  I’m already in the harness – but it’s going to take a while to re-size the straps – quick check to see that the Tiagra is still there – he’s a sneaky bugger – and knows I hate Penns.  20 minutes pass – nothing.  Nada.  Zip. Quietest period of the day… “Think you’d better borrow my lucky underpants brother” – “No thanks, but a rum might do it” – as a waiter he makes a good policeman – but he did go and get 2 very serious rums.  While Ken was getting the drinks, I noticed that both deckies were starting their clean up routine – and were not watching me – I managed to reposition Flat 3 and slip in (my own) TLD2-30 rigged with 50 – and slide in a Pakula Cockroach – back about 25 meters.  Drinks arrive – one big gulp and back to adjusting the straps – never did get that finished…

My TLD went off first – big squeal – just started easing up the drag – and the Tiagra goes off – Jim yells, “Two bloody big Wahoo” – so I back off the drag – hoping mine would run wide – don’t know where that came from – never caught a Wahoo before.  Just started thinking about what I’d read of their hit and run ability – when CRACK!  Oh… Shit – no it’s OK – I’m still tight and still losing line fast.  Things have gone very quiet to my left however – with Ken holding the blunt end of an 80lb Sampo swivel – shattered at the bearings.  There IS a God – and I have his GPS location!

So – down to work – get this thing in – pull up the little lever – easy – slowed him right down – turn him round – done – start winding – jeeeez this is too easy.  Apart from swinging wide – hard – both sides – he behaves rather well – not at all like the books say.  The arcs decrease and pretty soon he’s just out of gaff range – which, when you think about it, is abso-bloody-lutely nowhere… Steve leans out to test the gaff length – the Wahoo catches on immediately – and in a poomteenth of a second is 105 meters due East.  That’s 100 meters of line – plus the beam of ORCA – I’m now sprawled – none too elegantly – over the opposite gunwale.  All that on 16lbs of drag?  The books are right – this is a serious fish.  10 minutes later – Steve pushed me (not too gently) aside – and lunged with the gaff.  It’s as well that he connected first swing – I couldn’t have got it back in – a third time. But I didn’t tell them that.  Ken administered last rites – the deckies got fresh baits out – and I finished the rum.  Then we fought about the size of the Wahoo – and I won – I’m writing this! 40 lb – wall to wall sashimi. And when we cut the fillets up into five show bags – no one was arguing.  I then had the first mental block of the day – just as I threw the frame over the transom – I recalled the Malaysian lady I met a few weeks ago – at a wonderful Curried Fish Head dinner – Bugger!

We trolled for another 30 minutes – and then pulled the pin.  Hoisted four brag flags and headed North for the Seaway and back to Marina Mirage by 1800.  There WAS some mention – on the way back – about who caught what – and who was the only one not to catch a marlin – but they were quite restrained – they knew that I was the one with the photos – and they knew they were magic.  So we adjourned to the British Pub to discuss topics of common concern – the deckie’s consistent under-estimation of fish sizes – by as much as 50% (it was getting late – early!) – why they don’t have brag flags for shark and wahoo? – and how quickly could we get the photographs processed?

Chris and I put our films together and all 5 rolls went in at 1000 on Sunday – and I was there waiting at 1100 when 4 rolls came back.  “Mr Polson – you must have given us an unused roll by mistake – we didn’t notice it until we finished printing them.  If it was any one less experienced with a camera than you – we would suggest that they had missed the take-up spool completely” .

Ferchrissake don’t tell Ken – I’ve put these pictures up – just to save face.  The other 4 rolls had some reasonable shots – some almost excellent – but none of them magic…

Not even a hole in the @#$%ing ocean!

Mal’s First Marlin

Location: Australia – QLD – 36 fathoms due East of Gold Coast
Words: Mal Revie – with editorial comments (and quite a few gramatical corrections) by John Polson
Pix: John Polson

My son Paul, who works part time at The Fisherman, relayed a message to me that John Polson (JP) was inviting me to go out marlin fishing on the Australia Day public holiday.  Urged on by Paul, “you haven’t done that before”, I readily accepted.  Paul tends to get a bit prickly if I catch something which he hasn’t (its only a short list but does include barramundi and jew) but he thought he was safe. I’m no Rex Hunt.

At 7.00 am, JP, Evan, Ken, Doc and I boarded Ross McCubbin’s “Lucky Strike” and set off for the bait grounds 12 miles east of the seaway on a perfect morning.  The decky caught some live bait while the five of us drew straws for starting strike positions.  I drew number 2 behind JP.  (He now knows that number 1 is NOT the best draw!) My first session came and went as we trolled toward the 36 fathom mark without a bite. Evan and Doc then landed a Mack Tuna each in their first sessions.  Ross located some massive bait schools which were hundreds of metres in diameter and about 100 metres deep and we circled those along with several other boats.  The previous day, “Lucky Strike” had tagged four marlin in the 40 to 60 kg range so we were fairly confident of success.

JP’s second stint had just finished (I bribed him to not talk about my DROPPED first hook-up of the day) when the skipper shouted whoever was next had better get ready as we might have raised a small black.  Not having used a harness before, let alone caught anything from a game chair, the time I spent getting organised and putting down my stubbie was cut short when the decky thrust JP’s new 15 kg rod loaded with 10 kg braid into my hands and said “the skipper thinks it might be a good one”.  He didn’t look too confident in me.

(I’ll break in here and explain that Mal is an Accountant – and therefore not always very good with numbers – 10kg? Jeeez! But – it’s his story)

With that, the fish hit, the rod buckled and line screamed off the reel at a rate I hadn’t seen before.  I made the mistake of trying to stop it dead in its tracks until I realised that was futile.  After the initial run, I actually started to gain some line and made my next mistake and looked up to see the fish.  Ross barked at me to watch the reel as the line was bunching up in the middle.  I muttered that it should have had a level wind and wondered why JP didn’t have a better reel.  (He wants level wind on a game reel? He really IS an Accountant) What I did briefly see was a black blur tail dancing about 200 metres away.  That got the adrenalin and concentration going!

I wasn’t game to look up again for the next fifteen minutes as the fish and I slugged it out.  Down deep, up to the surface (I missed a couple of good jumps) off left, then right and all the time Ross steering the boat, backing down hard at times, and generally keeping me in touch with what was happening and Ken playing a role in pointing the chair at the fish – and so on – in between emptying stubbies.

All the time I was aware of JP taking dozens of photos and other boats coming closer to watch.  I was getting bloody hot and nervous that I might screw up when the marlin jumped about 50 metres away.  If I thought I could relax, I was wrong.  Off it went deep down and came up about 200 metres away.  It didn’t like the look of Ross’ boat and got its second wind.  Here we go again.  I was getting hotter and my arm was aching.  A stubby would be good but JP poured some soft drink in my mouth instead.  I’ll get even for that.

After about half an hour, I was getting on top and hoped it would not take off this time when it came up about 50 metres away.  But it wasn’t over yet.  The marlin took a distinct dislike to me and all the shouting and waving and made some shorter runs around the back of the boat. 

By now, I was confident I could have a few peeks at it and happily saw the leader come out of the water. Yeah – down it went again but not with as much strength and it came up fairly easily and was pulled alongside where I had my first close up look at one of these magnificent fish. 

After tagging, it was swum alongside briefly before it swam away at a rate that made me pleased I still didn’t have it hooked!

Ross estimated it to be 80-90 kg and I was more than happy to see 80 kg on the tag and release certificate.

The first XXXX did not touch the sides and I was still getting my breath back when I opened the third.  How does anyone manage to beat a 1000 lb one?  JP says the adrenalin kicks in and you just keep going.  (A low centre of gravity helps too)

The next Red Emporer from the Swains in September is going to feel a bit puny.

We did raise one more marlin for the day but didn’t hook up.  I even gave up my positions in the strike roster so I could watch someone else having as much fun as I had – but it was not to be.

It was a top day with a great bunch of blokes on the best boat.  Thanks to JP’s expertise with a camera, I have a special photo album.  A few of the boys from our annual Swain’s trip were unlucky enough to ask me about the day out.

And Paul?  He is FILTHY!


JB on the Barron – a Tribute to Bobby Barrett

Location: Australia – QLD – Barron River – Cairns
Words & Pix: John Polson
Pix: 1997 – Words: 2005

For many years – in a previous life – I was an absentee father. Living for various periods of time in both Tokyo and Hong Kong – commuting often between Australia and the tourism wholesalers in nearly every Asian city.

Not the ideal lifestyle for the father of two bright young children…

And not the ideal lifestyle for a keen fisherman either!

So when I was back in Australia – and visiting my clients in Cairns, Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and the Gold Coast – I would search out the best of the local fishing guides – and spend a day with them.  Not a cheap exercise perhaps – but when time is tight – it really is the most cost effective way to go…

That’s how I got to meet George White and Bobby Barrett. Two great Cairns blokes who deserve more mention in fishing history than I’ve been able to find. True live bait fisherman – who had between them – well over 120 years of fishing in Cairns.

Bobby had also lived and fished in New Guinea for a few years – and it was rumoured that HE was the one that named the Black Bass. ABU Garcia (at least) were convinced – because they gave him a suitably engraved reel series in his name.

George (and I hope he gets to read this) was reputed to be “a cranky old bugger – but if there are fish around – he’ll get you onto them…”

And he was – and he did. Often. Always.

I would phone him from Hong Kong with my arrival details – and then – at dawn – as the plane flew over the Barron River on short final into Cairns – I would look for the little yellow boat on the ramp by the highway bridge – and there – below – would be the two of them catching the live prawns for bait.
I would sprint (well – OK – struggle) off the plane – through Customs – grab a rental car and be with them by 7am. I’ve never been a ‘morning person’ – but I’ve never been late for a fishing trip either!

George was notorious for being a ‘Greeny’ – not your average tree-hugging-rent-a-crowd type greeny (who polute our political landscape) – but a serious, knowledgable conservationist – who cared passionately about his/our environment – and lost no opportunity of ‘sticking it up’ those he decided needed to know…

He figured I needed to know “what your beloved bloody tourism industry is doing to our rivers” – and every trip we would just happen be at the end of the Cairns runway – just as a ‘heavy’ 767 would roar over us at 50 feet – flaps and under-carriage fully extended – and spraying more than a little av-gas all over us – and the river.  George was not to know that I was also a pilot – and absolutely fascinated to be this close to a landing aircraft.

He was bloody-minded about line class as well. “If you can’t land a fish on 6lb mono – you don’t bloody deserve it – go on – let’s see how good you are.”  Yeah – right. All well and good – untill I lucked onto a really good baramundi.

Good means 20-30lb – Really Good starts at 40lb – and this one was REALLY GOOD!  We were at the junction of the Barron and Tomatis – right over his favourite spot when the fish hit.  Actually it didn’t ‘hit’ – it just picked up the bait – and went about it’s business – for a very long time.  It took drag occaisionally – but not to any worrying degree – at first.  After about 40 minutes the collective wisdom had called it for every known species in the river – except a barramundi. And George was blissfully ignoring Bobby’s suggestion to “pull the anchor and chase the fish.”  “Nah… if he’s any good he’ll turn it soon.”

Then the fish jumped.  Obviously just remembered it was a barra – and barra are meant to jump.

George was quick – “That’s a really good (I told you that?) fish Bobby – better get the anchor up.”

But it was too late. The barra had failed to throw the hook with its jump but knew how to relieve the irritation in its mouth – and began a long low run to the South East.  How much drag can you put on 6lb line?  Not a whole lot.  He jumped one last time – just enough to show his size – just enough to gain the impetus required to reach a rickety old jetty – and the crusty old piles.  Just enough…

Bobby didn’t let up on George for several hours.
Eight years on – my largest barramundi is still only 12lbs – but I ultimately forgave him. 

Those two had given me such special memories and an insight to the area that few Southerners could even dream of – and I decided that I wanted my son to experience it/them – before it was too late.

Later that year JB (John Benjamin – wouldn’t YOU prefer JB?) was selected for the South Coast Cricket team which were having their annual State Championships in Cairns. We made the bookings a week early – and called George.  As always I asked him to include Bobby – and explained that he would also have JB on board. 

“No worries Mate – perhaps he’ll be able to catch the barra that his old man dropped!”

We started fishing at 7am – and fished to sunset.  George and Bobby totally ignored me and spent the entire day with JB.  We started by catching the bait and they taught him to throw the prawn net – then had him eating raw prawns.  And he was awe-struck when we moored between the runway lights – for his own 767 landing!

But the tone for the day was set early – Bobby dived into his old kit bag and handed JB his beloved red engraved ABU… “Here y’are big fella – see what you can do with this.”  Bobby whispered to me as he sat down, “and it’s loaded with 12lb line – ferchrisake don’t tell George!”

JB beamed – he knew what he’d been given – I had told him the black bass story. And he didn’t let Bobby down either. I didn’t keep count of how many fish he caught – but it did involve 11 different species – most he’d never seen before!

George also ‘turned it on’ for him.  He took him to see a few crocodiles – lying not far from where we fished – to a crocodile trap – and showed him the bait – half a cow. They had him feeding bait fish to the wading birds – and then took him to meet ‘their’ sea eagle. We drifted in mid-river – George let out a piercing whistle – while Bobby scanned the skyline of the Barron George above us – and then threw a dead fish into the river beside us. Bobby grabbed JB and pointed – high above us – the eagle took flight and slowly circled downwards – the last few hundred feet tucking into a tight dive and scooping the fish from the water.  He then circled the boat a few times before heading back up to his nest.  He returned later in the day for a second snack.  “Jeez Dad – did you see that?”

The fishing – as I’ve said – was brilliant – he caught everything – except a barramundi.  Oh yes we tried… George announced, “This is the spot where your Dad dropped quite a nice barra a few months ago.”  (Wot? no longer a REALLY nice barra?)

No luck – the barra obviously knew JB had heavier gear…

And then finally – late in the day – George took us to his own personal sanctuary. George and JB walked ahead while Bobby and I followed. Traditional Land – a little island (from memory) where George’s parents are buried and he maintains what he calls ‘his humpy.’ A very personal refuge – and wonderful.

And so the day ended.  One of those wonderful father & son things – shared with two unique blokes.  We promised to do it again soon – and meant it.

But that will never happen.  A few months later Bobby died – and around about then George gave up guiding.  I still look for the little yellow boat – every time I land in Cairns – and I’ve fished the Barron once since – but it’s not the same…

Thanks for the memories George – and Vale – Bobby Barrett.


More Fishing Trips?  Click Here…


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