Over the weekend, I was reminded of an important lesson that is quite often forgotten amongst excitement when the fish are biting.
For the last venue run of the Esperance Land Based Fishing Club 2017 season, I teamed up with my mate Will Venter and headed out with another good mate, Mitch Waideman, to Poison Creek Beach in Cape Arid National Park. Poison Creek is renowned for its beach fishing and is a popular spot for fisherman looking to target salmon and skippy during the day, and mulloway and gummy shark at night. My primary target for the trip was a mulloway. The silver ghost of the sand has proved to be quite elusive for me during the 17 years I have been on this planet and I am still on the hunt for my first.
Upon arrival to the beach we were greeted with fairly friendly conditions. The swell was moderate and the seaweed was minimal, though we did have a bit of an onshore wind to contend with. We scouted out the beach and chose our location carefully, taking into consideration the low tide at twelve o’clock that night (not ideal).
Mitch was the first to get his rod in the water, and by the time he had walked back to the “Cruiser”, his rod had already buckled over and a 4kg salmon was cartwheeling across the water. Mitch’s mum, Sheryl, was next to get amongst the action, and began hauling in salmon every cast, while Mitch’s aunty Natalie consistently brought in sizeable skippy. Our gutter was going off and everyone was catching fish…except me.
The usual rig for beach fishing in Esperance is a basic double loop paternoster, with a gang or snell on the top loop and a smaller, single hook on the bottom. This rig has proved to be very successful over the years and is the rig that Mitch, Sheryl and Natalie were catching their fish on. An obvious benefit of this rig is that it is quick and easy to set up.
This is where I made a rookie mistake…
Recently I have been experimenting with slide baiting off the beach, in hope of being able to present bigger, neater baits to gutters normally out of reach with a paternoster rig. The only downside to this technique is that it takes longer to get your bait out to where the fish are. So, whilst everyone else was hauling in fish like there was no tomorrow, I was busy setting up my rig up and waiting for the currents to take my bait out past the breakers.
It ended up taking about 15 minutes for my bait to get to where the fish were, and by then they had gone completely off the bite. The worst thing: the bait was still within casting range of the paternoster rig. It was at that point I realised I had just made a rookie mistake. The paternoster rig was working perfectly fine and catching loads of fish. I, however, had decided not to go with what was working and use a different method that was supposedly better; in this situation, it was not. It’s kind of like the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” There was no need for the slide bait rig as the paternoster was working fine.
At the end of the day, my decision to slide bait resulted in me not landing a single fish during that hot bite and I was left fishless for the rest of the trip.
By sharing this experience, I hope to encourage others not to make the same mistake I did.