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> Tiger Shark, Bull Shark, Dusky Whaler Shark

December 4th, 2009

After not getting out on the beaches anywhere close to the frequency I would have liked throughout the 2008/09 Summer, I wanted to start off this summer early and continue to hit the beaches in hopes of some good sharks. The original aim was to sneak a trip in mid-October, however given the level of activity still going on at work there was insufficient time to obtain the necessary baits to organise a trip together. In light of this, I set a date in November and planned to stick with it, regardless of whether we had prime baits or not. Throughout the winter, I had been in contact with another couple of sharkos (Dave & Marek) who I have fished with previously and we had been discussing the idea of fishing a new location in search of new pastures; and hopefully a Tiger or two of our own!

Come November, I had little time to collect suitable baits, but decided to head up with a handful of medium sized eel baits and took the nice drive up north to fish some new and (for us) unchartered territory. As we arrived, we pondered a very important question: “Where should we fish?” Special consideration should be made to the length of beach you fish. Thankfully as a result of some prior investigations we knew roughly where patches of reef and rubble were, so to avoid unwanted bust offs in the middle of a fight we plugged those locations in the GPS to ensure a safe distance was kept from the reefs. But where do you fish? What makes you fish where you are; or one kilometre further up; or five kilometres up; or three kilometres back down the beach? We pondered this as we drove up and down the beach before eventually finding a location we thought suitable for our endeavours.

The clear waters and small surf of our new fishing location, chock full of bait fish!

There were a number of bait schools moving through the water. Marek couldn’t help but hurl some lures into the middle of them in a hope that there were some bigger predators lurking below.

Marek casts some metal slugs into the bait schools in hope of some bigger predators

We set up camp and slowly got ready for the afternoon. As the afternoon approached we quickly rigged the baits, consisting of freshwater eels and a stingray and proceeded to deploy them with Dave’s Zodiac. As if testing our will and desire to fish, as the afternoon came so did a strong onshore wind, and with it a nice set of chop and waves to battle through in deploying baits. Regardless, we were determined to get baits out and pushed through the slop. Given the wind, glow sticks were attached to the lines to provide a visual confirmation of any activity.

It didn’t take long before my reel came to life. Disappointingly it was only a small run, and as indicated by our glow sticks was on about 5 metres in length. The line was left untouched in hope the shark would return. After half an hour it was decided the shark wouldn’t return and the line was carefully checked. It was obvious the sandbag was cut but the bait felt okay. At least this provided one positive: We learnt that this location does not have a strong sideways current. The bait was left out in hope another shark would find this bait.

It didn’t take long before the bait was picked up and moved again. Similar to the first, it was moved only a small distance before being dropped. Just like the first, it too felt okay and was left out. This same tactic occurred a few more times over the course of a couple of hours before I was finally convinced that “this run is the one!” Drags were engaged and hooks set, I quickly strapped myself in and began my tussle with this shark.

Terry H hooked up to the first shark of the trip

Terry H still in battle with the first shark of the trip

The shark ran up the beach before heading back down. Before too long the shark was in some shallow water, and that’s where the fun began! Once in the shallows this shark was determined not to come any closer; and for approximately 10 minutes provided a nice tug-o-war before succumbing to the mighty Tiagra.

Marek wrestles with Terry H’s shark

Marek holds down the bully while Terry H easily removes the hooks

Terry H and Marek measure the Fat Bully. This one went 8ft to the fork.

Terry H with a fat 8ft Bull Shark

Terry H and Marek give a final pose

Some quick happy snaps were taken and the shark walked back out into deeper water where it casually swam away.

Terry H and Marek release the Bull Shark

A successful release

We nestled back down and drifted off and with the exception of a dog running down the beach, we were left undisturbed until the morning. We were greeted by a nice gentle lapping of waves; why couldn’t it be like that all the time!

Sunrise at our new location

Come lunchtime, and before deploying fresh baits we considered the previous night’s activity. Why did one rod get hit frequently while the others sat lifeless? Only one explanation could be found! While I was using my normal cable, the other guys were using some clear coated cable; which from previous experience I had happily dubbed the “clear coated failure trace” and for very good reason! Given my limited quantities of cable, Dave acquired some of my wire and built himself a rig for the following night. As the afternoon came around so did that onshore wind, which ensured our bait deployment would be another wet adventure. Thankfully bait deployment went smoothly, and we all sat down eagerly watching the lines as the sun began to set.

Once again it didn’t take long before Dave’s large eel bait was picked up and moved. Bingo! The clear coated cable is clearly putting off these sharks! The run was short lived, and with light quickly fading the call was made to redeploy the bait.

After redeploying the baits we fired up the gas cooker and began heating some dinner. Shortly after our meal, my rod came to life in a convincing manner. I picked up the rod and ran for the hills, stopping just short by line racing off the reel. Prematurely I made the call “this feels a better fish!” The run was short lived, and the rest of the fight was much of a skull drag type affair. Meanwhile, a small crowd had been drawn by our activity like a moth to light.

Terry H fighting a smaller shark

With Dave on the media devices, (both video and stills) Marek was once again the man to trot out and pull the shark in the final distance.

Marek leaders the shark into the shore

What was pulled up was much to my surprise, especially based off the first initial fight! I’d managed to snare a small dusky whaler of some 6 ft in length. As if to show the importance of sharpening your hooks, this little fella was even hooked in the tail!

It pays to have sharp hooks as shown by this tail hooked shark!

Terry H with a 6 ft fork length Dusky Whaler

Terry H and Marek give a final pose

After a few more happy snaps, this little whaler was left to power back to the deeper water. Thankfully the crowd disappeared, and as if on queue, Dave’s rod once again growled into life. This time Dave managed to set the hooks and the fight was on!

Dave setting the hooks

Dave going through the motions

Dave was able to subdue the fish after a short battle, and I quickly bound out into the water, all while thinking “looks like a Tiger!” As I neared I got a good shot of its head and beautiful stripes and knew without a doubt it was definitely a Tiger! “Dave, it’s a Tiger!” I yelled as I quickly moved the shark into some shallower water where we could better work on dehooking it and taking some photos.

Terry H dehooking Dave’s Tiger with the new custom built dehooking tool

Using the right tools can make the job easy

To the victor go the spoils: Dave with a nice 8ft Tiger Shark

While measuring approximately 8ft to the fork, I was quite surprised by the power in its tail! Far out! This was my first Tiger experience, and standing there holding the tail, I could tell it felt much different to any other shark I’d handled; so much more power! As if holding it wasn’t enough, the Tiger was more than happy to show me its power, by slapping me with its tail and nearly knocking my ill-prepared self off my feet.

Dave’s Tiger swims off

Once ready to go, Dave and I easily rolled the shark into deeper water before pushing it off and watching it disappear into the night, but not before looking back at us one final last time.

Dave’s Tiger shark gives us the final goodbye

The remaining baits went untouched for the rest of the night, although given the use of the clear coated wire, I know I wasn’t hopeful!

Come morning it was time to pack up and head back south to our respective homes in Brisbane. Pleased we’d fished a new location, caught a solid 8ft bull and found a location that appears to hold the odd Tiger

> Brisbane River – Bull Shark

December 2nd, 2009

Unlike last years Brisbane River Classic, this years had shifted to an individual entry. As such there was no more of “The Bent Hookers” to be written on any trophy. As I was somewhat busy with numerous Christmas parties, my budding half, Ben Coley entered in with the goal of retaining our grasp on the Golden Hook for the largest shark.

Needless to say, Ben dragged me away from the free alcohol and we headed on down to Luggage Point, informally known as the “poop shoot” for an early morning shark fish. The aim was the 3am low tide, but what transpired was an action packed night which never saw 3am come.

We arrived around 11:30pm-12am Friday night/Saturday morning and got to work pretty quickly. Ben sorted out the defrosting bait, while I set about digging the rod holder into a firm footing. Just thought I’d give it a quick test by leaning back and pulling against it

After that it was a quick sharpen of some already sharp hooks

Before long I was rowing the baits out a good 2-300m, using MOJO (my kayaks name) for it’s first real shark bait deployment duties. The rig for tonight’s affair was an Okuma T50W freshly loaded with 60lbs mono, and a single eel rigged on two 16/0 J style hooks connected on a lengthy cable ideal for the larger sharks.

The mood was pretty confident, and we had our hopes up for a fun night fishing. Maybe that was just my alcohol, but regardless I was enjoying the night so far.

Once bait was deployed I headed back in and began to relax in the comfort of the ute, listening to some pumping dance tracks to fire us up. Well, relax isn’t exactly what occurred, as we managed our way through about 1/3 a bag of chips, and at most 2.5 songs before we heard a short sharp zzzzzzzzZZZZzzzzz of the drag. Comments like “Are you serious?” “What the..??” were made as our eyes stared at the rod tip to observe even the slightest movement of line. I pointed out the slackening of line and we slowly reeled in the slack line, not wanting to place any great pressure on the line until we were ready to drill those hooks in.

The shark took another small, slow run before the rod slowly loaded again, drag was cranked up and we headed for the hills with the rods. Fortunately we were blessed with solid weight at the end and we were ON!

Ben quickly geared up and threw on the harness before laying the hurt on this shark, which at felt first rather small.

Well that only lasted so long, any once we’d regained enough line for the shark to be near that well documented drop off (anyone remember our last BRC ‘07 report?) this shark must have realised it was moving into an area it didn’t want to be in.

This is when it started to give Ben a little more grief, but before too long it succumb to the fearsome power of one Ben Coley! Then came that drop off. Ben stopped regaining line and I knew what the problem was. The shark was moving no where. So I jumped aboard my Hobie Revolution nicknamed MOJO, and followed the line out towards the drop off. Once I got near it, I lifted the line up and felt it instantly snap to the left, this happened twice before the line was again moving a little more freely. I yelled out to be to loosen the drag a little as there was a little roughage from submerged objects. Unfortunately this only lasted so long and the shark was again moving nowhere. So I returned to the water and this time followed out the line again. “Woh! I’ve got the double!” I yelled out. Here I am, in my 13 something foot kayak at what felt like 1am now with my doubled section of line in my hand, and an unknown shark only 9 metres away. I followed it further and reached the trace. “I’ve got the trace!!!” So here I am, out in a kayak, holding onto the wire that connects us to this shark. I give it a little lift and a reel good reef back to either wake the shark up or free it of whatever it is caught on. Suddenly the shark bolts and I release the trace as I start to get towed.

Well that was it for our trouble with the drop off and I quickly return to shore before jumping out and running out to grab the trace. It was around this stage when we visually saw the shark that we realised it was much larger than what we were expecting. Our hopes were for a 6ft shark on the bait we were using, and given the fight we thought that was on the money.

We got it in, took a few happy snaps with the BRC 2008 Unique Item for the newly appointed Photograph and Release guidelines for sharks, before pushing this beauty back into the deeper waters.

This beauty went 236cm to the fork, 280cm to the tip of the tail. Only falling short by about 10cm of my efforts last year. NOT BAD FOR THE RIVER!!

Well done Ben Coley! Great shark, and a great win for The Bent Hookers in BRC 2008! A good way to loosen the systems and remember what Sharks are and how to use some of our gear before some bigger trips later this summer.