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Fishing The Deep Blue With Mates

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I absolutely love fishing offshore by myself. There’s no pressure on the decisions I need to make as skipper and I find I usually get better results.

I can have three different rods on the go at once and if any of them go off, I get to enjoy the fight and hopefully reel the fish all the way in.

Another luxury of fishing by myself is if the turtlehead starts trying to escape the back door because I didn’t get a chance to go to the loo at 3.00am, I’m unrestricted to set it free over the stern.

That said, taking mates out fishing is something I do on nearly every trip I go on. There’s something special about seeing a mate hook up to their personal-best snapper, having a laugh when the fishing is good and being able to go over the memories of a successful fishing trip for years to come. Ten years ago I had a session with a mate where we landed plenty of big, knobby-headed snapper. We still talk about that trip every time we catch up.

Fishing with mates is never as simple as just inviting someone along and doing the same thing every time. I find myself catering for the type of mate or mates who will join me on each particular trip.

Infrequent Fisher

I have plenty of good mates who rate themselves as fisherman but don’t really go out all that often. They might have a rod reel, but chances are the line is six years old and buggered and they can’t remember where their tackle box is. For these blokes I try to make the fishing as easy as possible and make sure I bring an extra rod-and-reel set up for the type of fishing we’re doing. Fishing the bottom with bait or trolling hard-bodied lures are great options for the infrequent fisher. This way they either need to just drop a bait to the bottom and wait for a bite, or if trolling, they can just kick back and wait for a fish to jump on the lure. It amazes me how often the infrequent fisher will catch that big fish I’d been chasing for months. It can be frustrating at times having to help out with tying knots or cringing while watching the techniques used. However, taking someone out that doesn’t get to fish all that often and seeing them catch a decent fish or three is very rewarding for a skipper.

All The Gear And No Idea

Everyone knows that one bloke who spends way too much on fishing gear. He has the latest and greatest reels, the most expensive lures ever designed to catch fisherman and the apparel to go with it.

If you’re inviting one of these mates along for a fishing trip it may be necessary to impose a three-rod limit and specify the exact type of fishing to be done.

The good thing about these blokes is you can organise a jigging trip targeting kingfish, amberjack and the like and know they have a full box of lures you can dip into if the fish start busting you up on the structure. It’s good to get the all-the-gear-and-no-idea anglers out once in a while and show them what their gear is actually good for.

I seem to always be spending my money on fuel to get out fishing and don’t usually have a lot left over for all the latest and greatest gear.

Seasick Steve

Well what can I say about Seasick Steve?

Steve is the mate who always assures me he’ll be right. “I never get seasick,” he says. “I basically grew up on a boat,” he often adds.

If he grew up on a boat it must have been parked in the backyard on a trailer.

There are various versions of Steve, though.

First there’s the Seasick Steve who starts vomiting as soon as you leave the harbour, even though the weather is perfect with only a small swell running. This Steve continues throwing up the entire trip without actually being able to fish at all. It’s usually mutually agreed there’ll be no more fishing trips offshore for this Steve.

There are some tough-minded Seasick Steves that get sick, chuck, and then get straight back into the fishing, and I don’t mind taking them out. And they provide added burley to the water to attract more fish.

I’ve never seen one of these blokes puke while hooked up to a good fish. Being seasick is highly psychological and taking your mind off it by catching fish is gold. Just look out if the fishing slows up.

A handy tip I would share with Seasick Steve fishermen is to take a seasick tablet or antihistamine the night before you go to sea. Most make you drowsy, and that helps sleep the night before, and they’ll dry up the sinuses to prevent seasickness.

Fishing With Tradies

Most tradies are partial to a spot of fishing.

I have a house extension and renno on the go at the moment, and sometimes I take my tradie mates out fishing. I never expect them to work on the house in return, but it lets me trap them on a boat long enough to get the advice I need for my project.

Regardless of what someone does for a living, if they’re keen fishers they certainly appreciate the chance to head out on an offshore fishing trip on someone else’s boat. I find by taking mates out fishing it certainly makes them more open to helping me out if I need it. As they say, ‘What goes around comes around’. Generally speaking, when you get a few tradies on a boat for a fishing trip you can be sure of good banter, and for some reason I always seem to have good luck.

Family

I have a young son and daughter that absolutely froth on the ocean and love surfing, diving and fishing. I love putting these guys on to decent fish offshore and they enjoy catching them. However, the thing they like most of all is catching live bait on jigs. I’ve actually taken the family offshore just to catch baits for future fishing trips. When the whales are migrating past our coast it’s a memorable bonus I have a father who has lived a life on the salty stuff and is always very happy to get a place in the boat for an offshore fishing trip. I recently went out with my old man and my brother for an offshore trip off our local town of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. We don’t get together all that often anymore and it was really special to nail some cracking reef fish while sledging each other as though it were a game of backyard cricket when I was a kid. On this trip we had an amazing top-water lure session on the spotted mackerel on the way home. I even got a photo of all of us that I got framed and gave to the old man for father’s day (which he now displays proudly at the foyer to his home).

The Regular

I have a few mates who are regulars on my boat.

These guys know how to fish. They have all their own gear and know how to tie all the knots. They even pay attention to the way I operate the boat and help out with pulling the anchor, launching and retrieving the boat, deploying the drogue, burleying up, gaffing fish and all those bits and pieces that help to create a pleasant and successful fishing trip.

I was out with a mate fishing for tuna with small metal lures one time. We both hooked up to longtail tuna from the same school of surface-feeding fish. We had to cross over each other’s line paths a number of times, and even drive the boat away from one of the fish towards the other at one stage to stop losing all the line on my mates reel. I got my tuna to the side of the boat and while my mate still had his tuna on he grabbed the gaff from the side pocket and came over to gaff my fish.

Just then the hooks pulled out of the fish’s mouth, but my mate quickly gaffed it and passed the gaff handle to me. He got his fish to the boat and I gaffed it. We shared a quick high five then we set about bleeding and icing down the fish.

Long-Term Plan

Fishing the deep blue with mates is something I intend to do for as long as I can operate a boat, and with any luck beyond that time. I hope you enjoyed the article and picked up a few of the subtle hints I scattered throughout.

May your rod bend often.

Words and images: Bart Mackenzie

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