Literature Review

This review contains extracts from fishing publications that offer perspective of the social significance of land based sport fishing and of Jervis Bay in that regard.

Something Personal

Ron Calcut • Fishing World July 1994

There was a fabulous period when photographer/film maker Ossie Emery came on the scene. He made his appearance around the time we linked up with Lyn Donohue, Tom Narine, John Erskine, Bill Gordan and company, who were all doing the Devil’s Gorge game fishing from the rocks scene, a branch of the sport that would soon spread around the country like measles. The group were fanatically secretive about what was, at that time, still a secret spot. There was even talk about blindfolding Ossie and myself before we were led in, but if you have ever seen the goat track into that place, you will understand how they had to give way on that score. Ossie could not believe his luck. He shot hundreds of black and white pictures down there, and these were the first totally professional pictures to be published in fishing magazines. Where everything had been on the level of me with all my dead fish in the past, Ossie had the discipline to put down the rod and pick up the camera when all hell was busting loose, and he captured all of the drama and danger of the land based game scene in a series of unforgettable images. He made us see the drama and the beauty of our world for the first time, and that was the example which eventually produced a whole school of superb young fishing photographers who take the pictures you see today."

We would finally pile into Lyn’s panel van and head off, usually hitting the big rock platform just in time to get rigged and have the initial casts in the water as first light outlined the horizon. Nairn’s success with live bait really grabbed the imagination of a lot of people and, not knowing the secret spot, they went and floated live baits out of the local rocks. The end result was that a lot of people caught fish they never knew were there before, and a lot of new ground was opened up.

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New Challenge of the Rocks

George Brown • Australian Sport Fishing • Autumn 1968 • pg 54

Once sporting methods are adopted, rock fishing, in my opinion, becomes the highest sport form in angling. Before you howl your protests, allow me to give my reasons for this:

1) With a fighting fish, the rock-hopper’s ability to follow the fish’s moves is limited. There is no boat tor boatman to help ease the strain. He can seldom race along the rocks like a beach fisherman following a big mulloway. He must rely almost solely upon his skill with rod and reel.

2) Most of the rock fish are inveterate dirty fighters which head for the nearest reef when hooked or try to hole up on the bottom. Acceptance of sporting methods with such fish constitutes a high degree of challenge to the angler.

3) No other form of angling places the participant in such personal danger as rock fishing. The rock-hopper needs skill and and knowledge of the sea above the ordinary. Errors of judgement can, and do, cost him his life. No other angler puts such a stake on the baize. More than once I have been faced with the choice of losing a fish or taking an unjustifiable risk. These moments put a sharp taste on the palate. Fishing the rocks is rough wine but none can deny its heady vintage.

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Looking Back at 91

Greg Finney • Modern Fishing • December 1995 • Pg. 52

Walk into any pub on the NSW south coast and bring up the subject of land based game fishing, and sooner or later the subject is sure to turn to the rock ledges of Currarong and Jervis Bay. Few would argue that a dozen platforms along that short stretch of coastline are the best locations in the world if your quarry is tuna or marlin. There is a general consensus in most parts that platforms such as Devils Gorge, The Eaves, Beecroft, Diamond Head and The Tubes are the only ledges on earth that regularly produce marlin and tuna, making them quite extraordinary in the angling world.

Over the past 20 years, the rocks around Currarong and Jervis Bay have produced some incredible rock fishing for species such as yellowfin tuna and marlin. This small stretch of coastline has produced many tuna up to 75 kilos, kingfish, to 35 kilos, and marlin in excess of 100 kilos.

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The Good Old Days

John Ashley • Modern Fishing • April 1989

Like most adventurous fishermen, I started working further afield and one summer’s day at Kiama Point I achieved the spin man’s ultimate goal – a yellowfin tuna. It was only a rat at around 25lb, but that fish was a real milestone and I thought I was just it, I can tell you.

I think it was about 1967 when I first ventured to Pretty Beach with an old mate, John Rattenbury, who, as I see through the pages of this magazine, still does a bit of rockhopping. We had a ball catching all sorts of fish including good snapper, but it was the lure of that long, deep water between Pretty and Merry Beach that drew me back time and again. It was at Pretty Beach one Easter weekend when I ran into a guy who had a bunch of lures in his haversack and really knew how to cast them. We met on the rocks early one morning when the kings were going ape and we gaffed each other’s fish. Ray Leach loved his fishing and had spun quite a few different spots up and down the coast. We fished together around Sydney a couple of times and Ray took me to the Gulf, one of his favourite spots in the National Park south of Sydney. Incidentally, this was possible the first land based game location where a marlin was caught off the rocks.

Ray introduced me to the St. George Sportfishing Club and it was here I met a guy by the name of Bryn Llewellyn. The three of us were to fish together a lot over the next eight years or so. Ray and Byrn had fished the Currarong area a couple of times and their accounts of the terrain and its potential had me drooling. It was an area I had to explore!

We eventually went to all the great spots on the Beecroft Peninsula – Devils Gorge, Diamond Head, Drum and Drumsticks, Eves, Big and Little Beecroft and places inside Jervis Bay like the Tubes and the Docks. These areas are a spinmans’s delight, with comfortable, flat ledges and deep water right at your feet. The whole area protrudes seaward in such a way that it benefits from the currents pushing off grounds such as The Banks and has a host of other inshore reefs to the north. It’s a very fishy area and sadly, the spots around Sydney didn’t rate anymore. It was Currarong at every opportunity.

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The Bay

Gil Schott • Fishing World • December 1994 • pg. 116

Jervis, Jarvis, J.B. or simply ‘the bay’ – Whatever you care to call it, one thing is certain, Jervis Bay holds a special place in the history of fishing in Australia. Over the years Jervis Bay has grown into something of a magnet for fishermen. Its deep water rock platforms provided the spawning ground for land based game fishing.

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Spinning Big Beecroft

Simon Cassettari • Fishing World • October 1979 • pg. 47

Well, here I was – Big Beecroft. Home of southern spinning, a legend etched into the pages of history and it was all mine for three whole days. One magnificent curved shelf of conglomerate, Beecroft’s dominant structure is its cave, set at the base of towering 200ft cliffs, hard and uncomfortable.

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Southern Land Based Game Fishing Big Fish Tactics from the Stones

Fishing Australia • Week 22 • Better Fishing • pg. 673

Probably the best know area for LBG is Jervis Bay, or more specifically, the Beecroft Peninsula. The area has been described as the Mecca of LBG exponents and has the distinction of being the single most productive are for marlin captures. In this country, probably less than four dozen marlin have actually been hooked and landed from the shore, but nearly all have been taken here.

On the eastern side of the Peninsula, its high, steep sandstone cliffs are for the most part, unfishable. But here and there a platform or ledge gives the angler the required room to spin, float out a live bait and gaff and land his fish. Amongst the best know spots are Big Beecroft, Diamond Head, Devil’s Gorge and the Outer Tubes.

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South Coast Game Fishing

Ian Miller • Sport Fishing • Issue 2 • Autumn 1998 • Pg. 12

The Jervis Bay area is also the unique and famous land based game fishing location where anglers can hook black marlin from the stones, inside the bay. Big yellowfin are also landed off the rocks from locations around Jervis Bay in season.

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I Remember the Day

John Pirinen • Fishing World • November 1981 • pg. 25

The Jervis Bay area is utopia to a lot of rock fishermen, particularly those in search of a tuna, kingfish and even marlin, and each year from December to March there’s a mass migration to the many hot spots there.

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