LBG - Life on the Rocks (Part 1)

Bob Russo: Bob's article to be published in full soon....

I was witness to a good chunk of the land-based game fishing at Jervis Bay and it's progression from the 1970's through to the early 2000's. This period of my life was dominated by the rock fishing scene and the memories in my head are fond ones full of excitement, interesting characters, friendship and above all fish - big ones.

I first heard of Jervis Bay back in 1975. Living in Sydney I used to fish the very popular Bondi Murk. I met a chap who came down the cliff for a look-see at the notoriously unhygienic and dangerous spot. After I had landed a six pound blackfish (SIX POUND!) he asked me "Why do you fish in this dirty water?" "Where else can you catch good size fish and plenty of em?" I replied. With a grin he told me of Jervis Bay where they catch Yellowfin Tuna, Kingfish, Striped Tuna, Mackerel Tuna, Frigate Mackerel and even the magical Marlin all from the rocks. What's more, all this in gin clear water on the South Coast. The three hours’ drive didn't matter. This was the place for me.

Bluefin Tuna on chrome Assassin lure

I went to the local tackle store to find out what I could about LBG fishing, unfortunately for me the owner was an Alvey and beach rod man and didn't know the specifics. However he did tell me I would need an overhead game reel and a rod with a roller tip.

"A roller tip!! What the hell for?" "I don't know", he replied, "But everyone uses them when game fishing and make sure your line does not touch the rod when you lock it up, make sure the runners are correctly spaced.” “No worries mate, do you take bankcard?” At that I walked out of the shop with a 6/0 Penn Senator Reel and a FSU 5120 blank with all the required extras to make up my first LBG rod.

First Time South

On first impression I thought “why would big fish come into a millpond like this?” I actually thought I was looking across a big lake when I eventually found my way down to this so called hot spot. The Bay was nothing like I’d imagined. “So this is where those in the know get the biggies” I thought to myself.

Everything I did that day was not ‘by the book’ yet I still managed to land a 20 lb Yellowfin tuna. When rigging up I confronted a bloke for snickering at me and found that the eleven runners on my rod was a little over-kill. Defending my newly developed theories only made the whole crowd break out in laughter. I stuck to my guns with ten feet of 120 lb leader, two 10/0 hooks on one end and a huge brass swivel on the other, a big ball sinker the size of a ten cent piece sitting above the swivel, and last but not least a huge float fashioned out of a hand line cork painted bright red and a staggering twenty-seven feet away from the hooks set in place with a busted golf tee. Peeling as much line as possible from the reel, I hurled the little bait into water. Once more the laughs could be heard. Slightly outnumbered here, I thought, I will have to keep my mouth shut.

For a bloke of ethnic origin and having copped plenty of stick through life that was a pretty tall order. For the record I was the only person to catch a fish that day. From then on I was a familiar site down there. Respect was earned and I was pretty tough on some. I’m a bit mellower now being older.

Read Part 2 of this multipart series...

I sincerely hope Jervis Bay is heritage listed for the land-based game fishing that happens there and for the people who fish it from the rocks. LBG forever!!