Neighbour Bob has recently retired and now has lots more time for fishing. We often head down the beach together when the tide is right (incoming is best) to wet a line and have a small competition as to how many we can catch.
We usually prefer one of the more deserted beaches in our area. The best one is about 10 minutes drive away.
Fishing off the beach allows us to target a number of species including tailor, bream, flathead, whiting and Australian salmon. The latter is the most prolific and, although not a great eating fish, is great to catch.
They put up quite a fight occasionally leaping into the air in an effort to shake the hook. Successfully landing them through a heavy shore break can be a tricky business.
Occasionally Bob will take one home for Jude to work her cooking magic but generally we have a catch and release policy.
Despite the common name, Australian salmon are not related to the salmon family of the Northern Hemisphere. They are a member of the Australian herring family and can grow to nearly a metre in length and weigh around 10kg.
Arriving at the beach we always look for holes or gutters. These usually form between a sand bank out to sea and the beach. The ocean waves break on the sandbank and then wash into the deeper water of the gutter to reform as a shore break. It is in these holes we find the fish, sometimes very close to the shore as they feed on prey stirred up by the wave action.
So called surf rods are usually 3 to 4 metres in length and are matched to a spinning reel although some fishermen still prefer the older side cast reels. I use a 7kg breaking strain mono-filament line.
Everyone has favorite rigs for targeting specific fish. For the salmon we use a running sinker with 3/0 double (rather than triple) gang hooks at the end of a metre trace. Gang hooks are merely normal hooks linked together. You can buy them linked or as open eye hooks and make your own.
For bait we use fresh frozen Western Australian pilchards (sardines). These are attached to the gang hooks in a special way and then 'tied' to them with very thin wire as the pilchard is a very soft fish. The salmon find them irresistible.
We seldom come away from 3 to 4 hours at the beach without success. Some days the fish may be few and far between, other days there's a bite every cast.
But we both agree it's not the fish we go for, but the fishing.