Corio Bay to Port Clinton

The wind on Thursday morning was around 18 knots from the south east and the seas were a very untidy 1 to 2 meters.
We were eager for some good sailing weather and that seemed to be what was on offer despite the confused seas.
After a good breakfast we raised the sails and headed round the promontory to sail due north with enough wind to get up to nearly 10 knots.
That speed was excellent for trolling and we both had a line out hoping to hook something tasty as our stocks of eating fish were starting to run low.

IMG_1305Not long after lunch Scott hooked into a tuna of just over 3kg which was quickly filleted and stowed away.
By then the wind had picked up to a steady 24 to 28 knots which necessitated a reef in the mainsail although we kept the head sail fully unfurled.
By 3pm we entered Port Clinton which sounds like a town but isn’t.

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We took an hour to find a good anchorage in behind a rock called Creek rock.
It gave us protection from the southerly winds and promised a smooth night and the chance of some good fishing.
Shortly after anchoring we both dropped a live whiting over the transom with the intent of hooking into something solid and tasty.

IMG_1315Before my bait even had time to touch the bottom something very large grabbed it and headed for the gap between the rocky outcrop and the shore.
I wound as much drag onto it as I could and held on.
Unfortunately I was using my 8kg outfit and that seemed to be way too light for whatever monster I was hooked into.
The fight barely lasted 20 minutes before the line parted and I was able to retrieve 50 meters of very frayed line.

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My behemoth had clearly wrapped my line around some coral and shredded the line to the point of destruction.
I suspected it to be a large mulloway but there was no way to be sure.
During the rest of the night there was no action on our baits and our anchorage proved to be as good as we had hoped.
Early the following morning the sky dawned overcast with the promise of storms and rough weather.

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The decision was made to stay anchored up for the day and see what tomorrow offered.
In the early afternoon Scott decided to try using a bonito fillet as bait in an attempt to lure something large our way.
Hardly had the bait got wet and Scott’s rod buckled over and something large had indeed come for a taste.

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The fish put up a solid fight with the regular thumps on the line that signaled a good sized mulloway.
His light baitcaster was tested to it’s limits as it was only a 6kg rig and Scott needed to keep his wits about him as he kept the fish away from the anchor chain and all the rocky outcrops under the boat.
For 30 minutes the fight was waged and then up came a mulloway that the lie detector revealed was 15kg.

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I was impressed with the fight and the fish and surprised when Scott re-baited his outfit and tossed it overboard to the same spot he had caught his mulloway.
I thought that we had solved our food shortage and didn’t see the point of trying for another.
While Scott cleaned and filleted his mulloway another large fish took off with his freshly baited line and unable to fish and clean fish simultaneously he generously passed his baitcaster to me to deal with.
The fish shook and thumped just like a large mulloway and headed for the horizon.
Unlike Scott’s fish this one took off on a very long and powerful run that threatened to strip all the line off the spool.
A decision was made to try and turn the fish and save some line by using extreme thumb pressure and that appeared to be working until the leader snapped.
The fish was lost but a spool full of braid was saved.
Scott was still cleaning his fish and I decided to have a go with my slightly heavier 8kg outfit.
Just moments after casting a bonito fillet to the same place as the previous 2 hook ups my bait was picked up and the fight was on.

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Suspecting my fish to be a mulloway of similar size to Scott’s I played it as aggressively as I could and not having changed my frayed line from the last nights battle I held little hope of success.
None the less luck was on my side and not much more than 15 minutes saw a silvery beast of a mulloway the same size as Scott’s flopping on the deck.
I would have liked to release it but the fight on light line had taken all the zest out of it and it was in no state to be released.
Now we had as much fresh mulloway as we could handle and as much bait as we needed from the tuna caught the previous day.
But that wasn’t the end of the excitement.
A large fishing boat towing a 20 alum boat that was also towing a 15 foot tinny was having trouble in a small but messy following sea.

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As we watched the tinny being towed last in line was swamped and rolled over.
In an effort to recover the swamped and now upside down tinny the other alum boat towed it to the shallows not far from our anchorage.
They towed it around for an hour or so and seemed to have no idea how to rectify the situation.
Beaten they towed the tinny turtle back to the large boat and tied it up.
That night we had Scott’s specialty, minced mulloway thai fish cakes and they were good.
When the morning came we were entertained by the attempted salvaging of the tinny by the previous nights methods and once again it was a failure.

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This time instead of tieing the tinny to the other boats the owners just cut it free and left it to the currents.
An incoming tide briskly dragged the now abandoned tinny across the shallows and into one of the far reaches of the port.
The large fishing boat and it’s now diminished conga line left the port and headed south into a choppy sea.
An hour after they left we spotted the tinny bobbing around with just it’s nose above the water.
The decision was quickly reached to see what effect we may have on the situation.
Our tender was launched and we went off to survey the scene.
We approached the bobbing boat and quickly agreed we could not tow it with the mighty 8hp yamaha.

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A plan was made to get the cat and see if we could tow the tinny into the shallows and right it.
Over the next few hours we dragged that tinny across the bay from potential rescue point to point and had no more luck than the boats previous owners.
It was challenging to tow that tinny behind the cat as the tide had as much control over the boat as we did and there were more than a few moments when we thought we were in scuppered.
That tinny was more than we could handle and was of no use to us should we salvage it but we could not resist the challenge.

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The analogy is a puppy dragging around a large bone between it’s legs, it doesn’t have the teeth to adequately deal with it but it just can’t leave it alone.
That was us with that tinny.
By lunch time we accepted our defeat and towed the tinny to a spot where it wouldn’t be a risk to any other boats and set it free.
Over the hour we watched it drift away and pondered it’s situation.
We spent the afternoon tidying up the cat and preparing for our next northward trek.

 

Text and by Fingers photos by Scott and Fingers 2015

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