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Rottnest/Exmouth Fishing Field Day - May 2002.


The wind howled and the waves crashed into the rocks sending sheets of spray into the air where it combined with the horizontal rain and lashed the beachside vegetation. The visibility was poor and the sea was a mass of seething waves and white horses as far as I could see. The conditions were atrocious and this was only on the drive down past Leighton Beach to catch the Rottnest Ferry at Rous Head. What was it going to be like on the water?

A stouthearted group of anglers was gathered on the quayside and there were some brave faces put on as we boarded. Seven metre swells were battering the coastline and the wind was on the fringes of gale force. We headed out through the protected waters of the harbour and were hammered by the first swells. The large ferry rose and crashed into the oncoming waves sending plumes of spray over the decks.

The Club owns an air conditioned holiday house at Kalbarri which is available for rent to the public and club members at competitive rates

The Rottnest Express ferry travelling on a parallel course provided spectacular scenes as it reared on the waves and fell sickeningly into the troughs. The faces of the club members took on rather fixed expressions and the conversation became somewhat forced as we tried to take our minds off the stomach-churning situation. Some faces though reflected the colour of their T-shirts and hunched figures were soon lurching towards the safety of the heads.

It was an awesome crossing in dreadful conditions and no other ferries crossed until late that afternoon. Never have I seen so many people pass by the mandatory bakery visit and head rather for the security and comfort of a stationary bunk.

This trip we were back in the huts of Caroline Thompson and these freshly refurbished units are fantastic and clean and fresh. With the worst of the trip now over we had the fishing to look forward to. A very helpful bus driver arrived promptly on time and by this stage the usual vigour and enthusiasm had been rediscovered. All were now eagerly anticipating the fishing prospects; but the first view we had of Geordie Bay was depressing. White water, spindrift and spray covered almost all of the northern aspect of the Island with only isolated blue water evident and tons of weed banked up on the sandy beaches.

A hopeful bunch of 11 anglers disembarked on Radar Hill overlooking a maelstrom of wild waters. It was futile trying to point out the usual landmarks of the "Tailor Wash", "Radar Reef" and "Tennis Courts" to the four newcomers on this trip as this was a homogenous churning mass of white water. On a positive note however, were the actions of one elderly Italian gentleman and a laconic Scottish detective. Their feet had hardly touched the cold and windswept sand before they had packed and disappeared down the track to Wilson's in the twinkling of an eye. They were followed soon by Ken Black and Brad Zaknich. Did they know something we did not?

Dredging up some enthusiasm I decided it would be best to start off in the relative tranquillity of the reef holes behind the Tennis Courts. The water looked fishy enough with the rocks providing safety from the sea conditions but still rather exposed to the vigorous rain squalls. Rottnest newcomers Malcolm and Vix and visitors Tony Ong and Dale Coates all fished hard but for little reward apart from swarms of hungry herring.

With the fishing slow it was not long before we started exploring. Mark Farnay was the first to go and soon most were headed for Wilson's. It was then we cursed our luck. Brad and Ian had found a pod of salmon up on top of the reef and before long were engaged in hectic activity that attracted the attention of the others nearby. In total more than 12 salmon were landed and many were released. Sadly it had all gone quiet by the time I arrived.

But all was not lost as Wilson's was firing despite the ferocious conditions. Fishing was not easy, but sheltered by the cliffs one could cast out a mile and before long we were getting tailor and occasional salmon. Herring were also about in plague proportions. The going was tough with more than the occasional fish jumping and shaking off or cutting line by diving beneath the reef ledges. Rigs were soon in very short supply. The wind gradually abated and the conditions calmed somewhat and this turned into a good session with a tight group of anglers fishing hard and well together.

The bus picked us up at 7.00 pm and it was a tired and chilly group that headed into the showers to reflect upon the day. Food was prepared and eaten and new strategies planned for the morning and the huts soon resonated to the sound of jarrah trunks being sawn.

Six in the morning can be a cold and cruel time at Rottnest when faced with wild conditions, wind and rain, not to mention a bruised and aching body and an icy wetsuit. But fortitude was not amiss in this group. For the first time many of us can recall all 11 participants were present and correct for round number 2. Most headed for the West End but Ian and Brad along with Dale decided to try Riceys.

Vix and Malcolm targeted the salmon at the spot where they has been caught the day before and the rest of us headed again for Wilson's. The fishing was still good but relatively small tailor were prevalent at times and smaller baits could not get past the herring. Salmon were about but less active. Tony Ong released a few salmon, Mark got some good fish and most got stuck into the tailor. Heading back to try my luck at Radar, I could see Vix's rod deeply bent as I arrived on the tail end of a torrid fight. She had seen and then hooked a good salmon on a floating mulie rig and eventually secured the fish. This was a beauty in prime condition and one very happy angler was rewarded for her persistence.

Heading over to Radar we found Ken soaking baits for some variety. He had already caught some salmon and tailor and had been trying for something different. We all ended up hoping for some yellowtail kings or skippy to arrive on the scene but it was not to be. Even a very wet trip out to Cathedrals proved fruitless. So eventually the time came for us to climb on the bus and head back. The situation at Riceys had not been much better with Dale getting one good tailor on a live herring but there was little else on offer.

At the weigh-in there were good bags all round. Many good catches of tailor and salmon were recorded with Vix getting the best salmon and Dale the best tailor. But it was Tony that won the day and his perseverance paid off with a few extra silver bream, a wrasse, a breaksea cod and a leatherjacket.

It was a great weekend. The weather and sea conditions were atrocious at the outset but the fishing was steady and enjoyable. The group fished well together and we had a grand time. Sitting enjoying a coffee in the warm sunshine and with a slight breeze blowing across the now calm waters, life felt good!

John Jardine, Field Day Officer.



Friday dawned, still overcast, so we got our gear together and headed out to our location we had selected the previous day.

The breeze was slightly to our backs and the water looked very inviting. I put a squid bait out on the bottom and started setting up my second rod to throw some lures around. Too late, grab the first rod and reel in. Charlie Court. Well that will do for some fresh bait. Out it goes again.

This time I managed to get the second rod rigged when the first started bending right over. A short fight later and a nice Spangled Emperor lay at my feet. Ike Jime, gill and gut and into the storage bucket. Back into the water with another bait. Then the bait fish along the edge of the reef started going crazy. Metal slices through the schools had no result. Pimples just kept on chucking his white with red head 'Fat R' popper.

Then he hooked and landed a smallish GT. One and a half kilos gilled and gutted was good enough to win the field day though. Mind you, when I said to him to 'gill and gut it' he miss understood my words as 'kill and gut it' and when at the weigh in, had to remove the gills before it could be weighed. A lesson learned.

As the tide changed, we relocated back to Bundegi to catch the outgoing tide. I anchored a nice big gardie on the edge of the current line and watched as Pimples, John and Goldie proceeded to retrieve copious amounts of 'salad'. Ron then moved away from the main channel and immediately brought up success with a little Trevally.

After about an hour of dryness on the sandy quay, I looked over my shoulder towards the ranges and nearly died. As I watched a wall of water obliterated the hills. I quickly called to everyone to pack up and get back to the car as we were all wearing the last of our dry clothes. Too late. Even before we could put the rods in the sand spikes, it hit us.

A shower of rain so heavy that I could not see Ron a mere thirty metres away. And so the wet continued. Back at the vehicle, I sat "au natural" in the drivers seat in order to try and keep the vehicle in some semblance of condition for the drive back to Exmouth. Pimples and John put a plastic sheet over the back seat and Goldie still had a dry pair of shorts left. What a mess.

Back to Exmouth and to the weigh in. Basically only three fish were entered according to the Club eligibility list - (that'll change!!). Two dart and Pimple's Giant Trevally. The GT took the honours by a mere 40 grams from Terry's Dart.

Chas Riegert.

PS the Nickname "Pimples" was given to Ron Delary-Simpson, after a trip to Wapet Creek. The best bites of the day were the sand flies. Poor old Ron ("Pimples") ended up looking like he has chicken pox. He reacted to the bites and come up with little red lumps all over his legs and arms.

TerryF's 1.21 kg dart.

TerryF's 1.21 kg dart.

Spencer King's Spangled Emperor caught during the field day

Spencer King's Spangled Emperor caught during the field day.


Rottnest Attendance:- Seniors 8, Visitors 3, Total 11

Exmouth Attendance: Seniors 11 Visitors 2 Total 13

AnglerWeightSpeciesFishTotal Points
Tony D'Alonzo20.85 kg730329
Ian Taggart14.40 kg310224
John Jardine12.90 kg316209
Ken Black11.75 kg420208
Mark Farnay11.56 kg430206
Brad Zaknich9.90 kg327179
Tony Ong (Visitor)7.90 kg312149
Vix Alexander5.00 kg36130
Dale Coates (Visitor)5.33 kg230113
Malcolm Harris1.45 kg11175
Phil Baker (Visitor)0 kg0040
Ron Delary-Simpson1.25 kg1173
Terry Fuller1.21 kg1172
Peter Stoeckel0.24 kg1162
Daniel Chapman (Visitor)0.5 kg1255
Bob Henderson0 kg0050
Ric Parker0 kg0050
Morris Kolman0 kg0050
Chas Riegert0 kg0050
Derry Barber0 kg0050
Ian Cook0 kg0050
Ross Kember0 kg0050
Rick Dunstan (Visitor)0 kg0040
Spencer King0 kg0040

Sportsperson of the Year Section Winners and Field Day Prizes for March.

Best Scale Fish Vix Alexander, Salmon 4.15 kg
Best Bag of Scale Fish Tony D'Alonzo, Mixed 20.85 kg

Field Day Top Ten up to May 2002.

Position Angler Total Points
1Tony D'Alonzo328.5
2Ian Taggart223.5
3John Jardine209
4Ken Black207.5
5Mark Farnay205.6
6Brad Zaknich179
7Tony Ong (Visitor)149
8Vix Alexander125.5
9Dale Coates (Visitor)113.3
10Malcolm Harris74.5

Copyright © 2002 Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc.)

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This page last updated 4 February 2003.

Display of this page was updated on 21 January 2013. Contents updated as above.

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