LBG - Life on the Rocks (Part 3)

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

Partners In Crime And Other Friends

Ron Bridges (Jock) and I were inseparable in those days and people would leave us alone which was the way we liked it. We reckoned we owned the Tubes and Devils Gorge simply because of the years we spent there. Dave Mayne is another legend I would have to rate as one of the most consistent and persistent LBG fishos I have ever had the pleasure to fish with and be friends with. Dave had more ANSA records than you could poke a stick at back in the 70’s and 80’s and like Jock and I people would give him a wide berth. When they saw the three of us together, well just say things were very subdued on the platform and nobody would dare leave any rubbish behind.

Some of the great characters (a few with funny nick names) of that era were Mark Deeney, John Cabarus, Simon Cassertari, Glenn Beers, Sean Fitgerald, Allen Sutton, Triple Treat Pete, Lash, Jaws, Fossil Smith, Dave “Mr Cool” Anglicass, Angelo Pandol, The Buzzard, Hippie Frank, Rob Pellari, Mario DeBono and the list could go on and on and into the next generation and again. These guys were all excellent fisho’s and all round good blokes.

Theories And Practices

I don't wish to tell people how to fish, but I certainly would like to mention some of the ideas that Jock and I came up with over the last twenty years. They might not be text book techniques but they certainly helped us get results. And that's fishing!

When we started LBG fishing the rule was that you fished you baits shallow. Ask anybody in those days and you were told that tuna only fed on the surface, so only put your bait shallow. There were a lot of Yellowfin about back then and though fish were being caught with baits only six feet under the water, we were literally only scratching the top of the strike zone.

Jock contemplating "Where’s my Bobbie" at The Tubes

One day, totally bored waiting for a run that just didn’t feel as though it would happen the penny dropped. Jock and I were rambling on about how we started fishing the south coast and I mentioned how I hooked my first Yellowfin at a depth of twenty seven feet. “Twenty seven feet”, Jock spluttered. I then explained how I rigged up. With his broad Scottish accent he said “If at worked than, wee nat now?” From that day on both Jock and I started using some of our own ideas.

Bob using a Tony Hubbard caught Bonito as a Live Bait at The Tubes

We both fished a lot deeper than six feet but only rarely did we use a sinker to keep our baits down. Usually we used some bike tube rubber and fed the line through twice to act as a stopper for the torpedo style bobby cork. This allows the bait to swim up or down in the chosen depth and allows for a greater expanse of water to be covered. Using a sinker would only mean restricting the bait to a certain depth also. We also placed a small piece of rubber tubing between the sinker and the knot on the swivel to protect the knot in the event of a long fight.

We got some pretty strange looks when we used small Siltar lures with trebles four times bigger than the standard size spinning for Frigates or Stripeys. We pulled a lot less hooks from the fishes mouths and landed more.

Another tip for young players: Most anglers make an error when a big fish has them trembling in their boots on his first run. They strike if the run stops. What you must not do is panic and strike too soon. Both Jock and I have had Yellowfin and Bluefin do the same odd thing, run as if there is no tomorrow and then stop as if somebody had turned a switch off. The best thing to do is to wait. What the fish is doing is stopping to turn the bait in its mouth so he can then swallow it head first. This could take as long as a minute (they don't have hands!). That minute will seem like hours. Remember don't strike! In 90% of cases the run will start again and that is when you should set the hook.

Dave Mayne, imparting some words of encouragement to Jock. It was a Yellowfin over well 100lb and reefed him just thirty meters from the rocks after a 2 hour battle

So many people loose many good fish by hitting the panic button and start tightening drags too soon in an effort to stop the runaway. What they should realise is that as the spool diameter decreases with lost line it means the fish has less leverage on the spool and the drag pressure increases significantly. Lateral water pressure also contributes tension on the line as a fish moves sideways. If you ‘sunset’ it with a lot of line out then presto! The line pops. It would take an exceptional fish to drag a thousand metres of line off a reel in one hit if your drag is pre-set correctly as the pressure will naturally increase. Just let it happen.

Bob hooked up on a decent Hammer Head Shark at The Gorge

Uncommon as it is, I actually saw a mate of mine spooled on a 6/0 Everol. The funny thing was that the more drag Fossil put on the big yellowfin the faster and harder it went. It's a bizarre sound when 30 lb line comes to an almighty halt on the end of a reel. The look on Fossil's face was one of a non-believer. Yes it can happen and has happened to me, but I was fishing 50 lb line and nearly joined the critter in the drink.

Notable Captures

The platforms of Jervis Bay have provided the fishing fraternity with some very notable captures over the years and some very strange happenings as well. Frank Woodrop (Hippy Frank) landed a 200 lb plus Yellowfin which took three gaffs to lift clear of the water. A young Vic Caplucas landed an unbelievable 242 lb Marlin on 20 lb line, Ron Bridges has landed two Marlin 117 lb and a massive 200 lb plus on 30 lb tackle as well as tagging another.

Hippie Frank with his 200lb PLUS Yellowfin caught on 50lb line

Jock with Bob’s 169 lb Yellowfin caught on 30lb line and a blown reel

Tuna could not escape the Scotsman's hook either, as he landed both Bluefin and Yellowfin with regularity, in one day releasing seven Bluefin. Glen Edwards and Johnny Muller from Nowra both landed Yellowfin of 102 lb and 88 lb respectively. And for all who fish there Jervis Bay is the land of the mighty Kings.

“Triple Treat Pete” and gaffman Lash

A world probable world first was my nephew Dave Eisenberg’s 132 lb Yellowfin being air lifted off Devils Gorge (which has a very precarious access) by a helicopter! I must admit to being behind getting the chopper.

Bob supporting his young nephew Dave

“Get a load at the size of those sickles” Bob is saying

Dave at the end of his epic fight

Evacuating one Yellowfin via “Air Express”

Another world first for that matter was Barry Preston's Broadbill taken from Governor Head on the south side and Melbourne based Lyn Russo’s 72 lb marlin from the north side.

Another very impressive capture was Jim Siarakas who landed a 47.5 kilo Marlin on 8 kilo line. Add Nigel Carter's Sailfish from the Tubes and you have some very impressive captures that most people who own boats would only dream of.

My Favourite Spots And Conquests

The Tubes, Devils Gorge, North (Devils) Gorge and Mosquito Gorge were my favourite haunts when it came to LBG. These places allowed me to land my personal bests from the rocks.

Bob and another big line stretcher

John Favorito and Bob trying to keep young Dave going

I have caught my share of Yellowfin from the rocks up to 136 lb as well as Bluefin up to 60 lb. I did manage a small solitary Marlin from the rocks but a Marlin is a Marlin and I’m part of the club. Talk about being pumped! Bob’s Yellowfin from the Gorge went 136lb and took around thirteen minutes to land. It must be noted that the gaffman Mark Mayne got knocked around pretty badly with the fish still very green and toey when gaffed. He didn’t miss.

Talk about being pumped! Bob’s Yellowfin from the Gorge went 136lb and took around thirteen minutes to land. It must be noted that the gaffman Mark Mayne got knocked around pretty badly with the fish still very green and toey when gaffed. He didn’t miss.

Joint Effort

Bob fighting the big Tuna with a broken drag on the reel. The picture tells the story... PAIN!

One notable capture I have was a big Yellowfin Tuna from the Tubes on 30 lb line but sadly it was not hooked by me. Another bloke hooked it, fought it for forty or so minutes and was knackered. He asked me if I would take over. Well no need to ask me that question twice!

The drag on the Penn International reel blew up an hour after he gave it to me and it had no drag. What to do? I jammed my hand between the top plate and spool walked backwards then ran forward as fast as I could wind like a man possessed to gain line with no pressure on it. I fought that fish for two and a half hours bleeding and with blisters on my fingers. Jock finally gaffed it just on dark and we weighed it at Greenwell Point to 169 lb!

Funny Times

I would have to say in those days that the camaraderie on the ledges was second to none. That’s the thing about LBG; you’re in each other’s space.

Left to right Dave and Gordon Mayne and Bob at Devils

I was like a tough old barnacle. You could expect to see me there, I could help you get a grip on the place or take some skin off if you slipped up. Everybody that fished the platforms in that era knew each other. While there was the odd practical joke (like tying shoelaces together when people were sleeping and faking a take on their reel) no-one was seriously hurt and most everyone tried to help each other out. It would be really nice to see that tradition carry on to the new brigade.

We never went hungry on the rocks, gaffs make good rotiseries

Left to right Fossil, Jaws and Lash with Jaws 74kg Yellowfin. The gaffman Bob is taking the photo. Again another team effort!

I showed the ropes to many young lads like Rick and Cameron Jones who have both become close friends of my family and I. We met when I was carrying on like a Barbarian helping to land one of their first big fish, however that particular story is not for writing down. These lads have progressed in leaps and bounds in the fishing scene and have many notable captures to their names.

Bob and his gaffman Mark Mayne

Bob holding onto his young nephew Dave

The LBG fishing of the south coast is alive and well. Contrary to many of the so called 'gurus' it is not finished. It might not be as flash as it was twenty years ago when there were many more tuna around and five times as many locations prior to their being closed. There are still a couple of JB locations open to fish. There are of course other regions including the Far-North Coast, Far-South, Central Coast, Sydney and the Illawarra.

None are so spectacular however as JB's front ledges. Diamond Head, Mosquito Gorge, North Gorge and Devil's Gorge are all sorely missed, as is 'The Docks' inside the bay. There are still some big Marlin and Kingfish about. And while elusive these days, we know the big Yellowfin are still there too. Put in the effort to learn and observe and results will come your way.

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!!