After months of effortless work gaining permits and licences, building the website, vehicle modifications, acquiring gear and several trial tours with mates, the time had come to announce Perth Fishing Safaris to the world. It wasn't long until we had our first booking of three budding fishos from the wheat belt of inland south west WA.
Jamie, James and Jodie had been fishing together for years on numerous expeditions to the coast, with all trips sharing one thing in common... a lack of fish catching! Like many fishos around the country they were not blessed with the ability to go fishing regularly to keep tabs on what was biting and where. Rather they went fishing every now and then when they had the time. So when Jamie saw our advertisement he jumped at the chance to come along with girlfriend Jodie and good mate James to try their luck at landing a tailor and the mythical mulloway that had eluded Jamie for his entire fishing career.
We met at Hillarys Marina car park at 2pm. After our meet and greet and quick safety briefing the trio of wishful fishos boarded the Toyota Prado, clearly buzzing with excitement and extreme levels of enthusiasm. The trip had begun!
As we headed north we chatted about all things fishing and slowly got to know one another more, sharing stories of fishing adventures, work, family and life in general. Turns out the trio had been working quite hard the few months leading up to the trip. They really needed a break from work and wanted nothing more than to chill out on the beach and catch some fish. Jamie in particular really wanted to catch his first ever mulloway. James, who had previously caught a mulloway, had never caught a tailor so tailor was the number one priority for him. Jodie didn't really care what she caught, she just loves fishing in general and was there for a good time.
As we neared the coast it seemed as if the salt air had intoxicated these budding fishos from the country. Used to the smell of sheep's wool and draught beer it was almost as if the salt immediately began cleansing their senses. We pulled off onto a dirt track, let the tires down and headed off over the dunes in search of a spot to fish. The area we fished has become like a back yard to me over the years. It's not a matter of just pulling up to the same destination every time and belting out a bait, if you want the best results you have to spend time looking for the most likely place fish will be on the day and focus your efforts their.
Once we found Spot X for the evening's fishing, we together unpacked the vehicle. Jamie, Jodie and James set up the sitting/eating area and had a look around the beach while I sorted out the fishing side of things. Having pre-made rigs made gearing up a quick process and it wasn't long before our first line was in the water. Shortly after our second line was set the first rod buckled over with the weight of a big fish. It was only 4pm and I had only just finished telling the guys that things would be pretty quiet until the sun hits the horizon. Jamie was the first to the rod. He picked up the rod end held on as the unidentified fish stripped line off the reel. Unfortunately the fight was short-lived and the hooks pulled... it was a case of a lesson learned the hard way. In all the excitement Jamie had forgotten to strike and set the hook. Ah well, it was only early. About 5 minutes later rod number 2 bent over and Jamie was again first on the scene. This time the hooks stuck into a smaller fish which turned out to be an average-sized tailor. Not a bad way to start the session.
After that things got quiet until the sun dropped below the horizon. In these parts, last light and the first hour or so after dark are prime times where you generally see the highest bite activity. This part of the evening is what I like to refer to as 'Happy Hour'. As the last light began to fade we still only had the one tailor on the board, and while the guys remained hopeful I could see them beginning to wonder if this was a stitch up. Had Robbie even fished up here before? Had he taken us to a dud spot? Does he even know what he's doing? BANG! In the very last moments of light Jamie's rod buckled over with a solid hit, the glow light on the tip bouncing up and down as the fish stripped line from the reel. Jamie was on! It was obvious Jamie had fished before. He needed little instruction as he fought the fish, guiding it smoothly towards the shore while it bounced around in defiance, shaking it's head trying to free the hook. As Jamie's line neared the shore I followed his line to the water with my head light. Moments later I had my hand wrapped around his leader and was dragging a shining slab of silver up the beach. Jamie had done it. He had landed his first ever mulloway, and a nice one at that. It was cheers, hoots and hugs all-round and the trio celebrated. An 82cm school mully lied on the sand before them and they could hardly believe their luck.
Before we could even take a photo of Jamie's fish, James's rod bent over. It was pitch black by now so James was fighting his fish by feel. He did well, and the fish put up a fair fight. As James pulled the fish through the last receding bit of wash I turned on my head light and couldn't believe it. James had managed to score his first ever tailor. And not only that, at 65cm it was a donkey of a greenback to boot. James was stoked, Jamie was still frothing, and Jodie was feeding off the boys' excitement. Deep down inside I was relieved. The inaugural Beach Fishing Safari was a success, and the pressure to produce the goods was gone.
With only 1 line left in the water I hurried to grab the camera so we could take a few pics and get the boys fishing again. Jamie and James got into position with their fish, and then BAM! Behind them all I could see was a glow light bouncing around in the dark. Jodie's rod was going off. She was at the rod quick as a flash. If someone had told you that she had sprained her ankle in the dunes a few hours before you wouldn't believe it, but it was true. Jodie pulled the rod fro the holder and hung on for dear life. The fish was going ballistic and stripping a fair amount of line from the reel on it's first run. Jodie wasn't as experience as the boys, so I helped her out and talked her through it. It was a serious fight and this fish did not want to come in. The adrenaline had got hold of Jodie and she was winding like crazy. I assured her that the fish was not going to get away, and we worked through it together as a team. By the end of the fight Jodie had it down pat, pumping and winding and coaxing the fish towards shore. The boys were right there with us. As the fish shimmered in the last wave I knew it was a gooden. The fish hit the sand and we slid it u the beach. Almost a meter of silver surf mulloway lie on the beach at Jodie's feet. What an experience for these three from the country. What a night, and what a way to kick off Perth Fishing Safaris.
After a few pics of the crew and their fish it was lines back in. That turned out to be the last of the mulloway action for the night but we landed a few more tailor, enjoyed plenty of laughs over beer and dinner. Being from the country it's not often these guys got the opportunity for a fresh feed of fish. They decided to keep two mulloway and a talior for a feed. Filleting fish is all part of the service, and Jodie, Jamie and James were stoked to take home some lovely fresh fillets and wings for the barby. I'd like to just add a note here about our catch and release philosophy. Over the years I've personally chosen to release 90% of the mulloway I catch. They are not the most common fish and for me it's more about the experience of catching them than eating them. However, I do understand that many people don't get out for a fish as much as they'd like, so when they catch a nice fish they want to take it home for a feed. That being the case, on our tours I prefer to educate clients on the benefits of catch and release and offer them the chance to release the fish they catch or keep them, and I'll 100% support their decision whatever it may be.
Reflecting back on the day I can say that was pretty much a stock standard bite for the areas we fish. Daylight hours generally produce slow activity, 'happy hour' from the moment the sun hits the water until an hour or so after dark is all action, and from then on it's irregular bites until early morning. We normally fish through until about 9-10pm then call it quits. This allows enough time to pack the vehicle, inflate the tires and be back in Perth by midnight for a half-decent sleep. If you're still waiting to tick that first mully off the bucket list or if you're wanting an enjoyable time out learning the ins and outs of beach fishing, contact Robbie from Perth Fishing Safaris on 0422 686 363 or visit our website www.perthfishingsafaris.com.au