Dirty Metro Queens
No I'm not referring to the 'boys' in Northbridge, or the private school gang at Metros with their pastel shirts, fauxhawks, and upturned collars.
Despite my better judgement, Jay and I decided to ignore the last 2 weeks of 4m+ swells and head out behind Stragglers to search through the mud for fish. Both of us have been out of the water for a while due to work o/s, so dirty water was no excuse.
Heading out, it was obvious that there was a lot of sand stirred up and the white crests of waves were clearly visible on the outer reefs. The wind was light offshore and chilly, so that part of the equation was at least in place. We had both been to Thailand for a freediving course, and I had a bit of new gear to test out, so we were eager to get in the water regardless of conditions.
We went to a spot out the back of Stragglers in around 14m of water with good bommies and ledges and jumped in. The water was a balmy 18 degrees and vis was only 3m at best. I was amped to use my new 1.4m Edge Gun with Paxman reel, but soon discovered that this was going to be easier said than done.
I'm not sure what Tony Heugh looks like, but I imagine that he must be some sort of barrel-chested, monster of a man. With all 90 odd kilos of my own frame I was battling to load the thing. After about 6 goes at it I finally managed to get the bloody wishbone into the single notch that felt like it was somewhere behind my head.
On my first dive I fell through a big school of bullseyes and into a nice bit of sand between a couple of deep ledges. Good dhu territory, but unless one swam into me, I was unlikely to see it. Knowing I was at least in the right place lifted my spirits on my next breathe up and I headed back down a bit further down the reef. I held the bottom for a while, watching schools of bullseyes and zebra fish and started heading back to the surface a bit earlier than necessary.
From the corner of my eye I spotted the iridescent blue of a good sized Queen Snapper. If he hadn't of lit up there was no way I would have seen him in the murk, so luck was with me, and I reversed my momentum and lined up my shot. Curiosity got the better of the fish and he turned sideways to see what I was doing and offered a good shot about 3m from the end of the gun. My first shot with the Edge was true and caught the fish in the gills, but didn't do much to stop it.
I was surprised by the run of the Queeny, I've always been able to skull drag them up, even with relatively bad shots but this one felt like it had run me straight under a ledge and was stuck fast. At least it gave me a chance to use my reel, so I headed for the surface keeping some tension on. I was breathing up and getting ready to head back down when I felt the queeny run out from under the ledge so I gave a good yank on the cord and felt him lift. The fish still pulled hard but was running out of blood when I got him to me and was no trouble to string up. It was bigger than I thought up close, it measured in at 850mm and I think it’s my biggest one to date.
After I boated the queeny, I set about reloading the canon. This time around I couldn't do it, no matter how hard I tried. I eventually gave up (I know, HARDEN UP), and grabbed my 1.1m Rob Allen from the boat, which felt like a pistol in my hands and loaded with ease.
I did about 10 more dives in fishy territory, but the boredom of crappy vis and swell surge was starting to eat away at me, and the cold water was wearing me down. I had opportunities for shots on plenty of leatherjackets, a good sized western fox fish, and saw a legal blue groper but decided against taking all of them while I waited patiently for a Dhu or Yellow Tail kingy to come in. It wasn't to be and I climbed back in the boat happy to have at least got one fish on my day off. It was more than I honestly expected with the vis.
Jay managed to pick up a smaller queeny and a good sized Breaksea Cod.
We were back on the boat ramp by 10:30, with a few fish for dinner, and lungs and legs stretched for more of the same over the weekend. Not an epic trip, but not a bad return to the water after such a long break.