American Angler in Australia (1937)

BOOK: American Angler in Australia (1937)
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American Angler in Australia (1937)<br/>

An American Angler In Australi
a

Zane Gre
y

*

ILLUSTRATIONS [Not included in this ebook]

1.
WORLD-RECORD TIGER SHARK, 1036 POUNDS

2.
LEAPING GREEN FOX THRESHER SHARK

3.
SHOWING THE PECULIAR BUILD OF THIS RARE SPECIES--ONLY ONE EVER CAPTURED

4.
THE GREAT LEAPING MAKO (I)

5.
THE GREAT LEAPING MAKO (II)

6.
THE GREAT LEAPING MAKO (III)

7.
THE GREAT LEAPING MAKO (IV)

8.
AUSTRALIAN-RECORD BLACK MARLIN, 480 POUNDS

9.
AUSTRALIAN BLACK MARLIN, 403 POUNDS

10. YELLOW-FIN TUNA FIRST TO BE REPORTED ON AUSTRALIAN COAST--VERY

VALUABLE COMMERCIAL DISCOVERY

11. THE WANDERING ALBATROSS

12. 805-POUND TIGER SHARK

13. GAFFING A GRAY NURSE SHARK

14. GRAY NURSE UNDER WATER

15. ONE DAY'S CATCH OF GRAY NURSE SHARKS, 350 TO 500 POUNDS

16. Z. G. ON THE ROD

17. THE WOBBEGONG, OR CARPET SHARK--NOTE FILAMENTS OF SKIN PROTRUDING FROM

LIPS--THESE HE USES TO LURE SMALL FISH

18. THE "AVALON," CAMPWARD BOUND, FLYING FLAGS

19. TIGER SHARK WRAPPED IN THE LEADER

20. HOLDING HARD ON A VANQUISHED MARLIN

21. THE "UNDOYOU"

22. WHALER SHARK, 890 POUNDS. A VICIOUS MAN-EATER THAT GOES UP THE RIVERS

23. Z. G. CAMP AT BATEMAN BAY

24. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (I)

25. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (II)

26. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (III)

27. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (IV)

28. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (V)

29. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (VI)

30. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (VII)

31. LEAPING STRIPED MARLIN (VIII)

32. AUSTRALIAN-RECORD STRIPED MARLIN, 324 POUNDS (IX)

33. ONE DAY'S CATCH, AVERAGING 278 POUNDS (X)

34. WHITE DEATH SHARK-SHOWING RESEMBLANCE IN SHAPE TO THE BROADBILL
SWORDFISH

35. SHOWING JAWS AND TEETH OF THE TERRIBLE WHITE DEATH SHARK, FIERCEST
AND DEADLIEST OF ALL MAN-EATERS

Chapter
I

For a good many years I gradually yielded to an impression tha
t
Australian waters, especially on the Indian Ocean side, would develo
p
some of the greatest big-game fishing in the world.

At first, all I had to excite such interest were newspaper article
s
about man-eating sharks, and vague fish stories that drifted up fro
m
"down under." But in recent years I have corresponded with scientists
,
market fishermen, anglers, even missionaries, from all of whom I gathere
d
data that added to my convictions, and finally sent me down to th
e
under side of the world to see for myself, and prove, if possible, tha
t
my instinct and imagination were true guides. But though my chie
f
concern was with Australia's thirteen thousand miles of rugged coas
t
line, a small bit of which I hoped to explore, I was hardly prepare
d
for this land of staggering contrasts, of unbelievable beasts, of th
e
loveliest and strangest birds, of great modern English cities, o
f
vast ranges that rivaled my beloved Arizona, and of endless forestland
,
or bush, as they call it, never yet adequately described, no doub
t
because of beauty and wildness beyond the power of any pen to delineate.

We arrived in Australia in time to welcome the New Year, 1936. I had see
n
many of the celebrated harbors of the world and was not prepared t
o
surrender the supremacy of New York Harbor or that of San Francisco, no
t
to mention Havana, Rio de Janeiro, and others, to this magnificen
t
Australian refuge for ships with its shores of color and beauty. One o
f
my camera men, Gus, exclaimed, enthusiastically and regretfully: "Say
,
this's got Frisco Harbor skinned to a frazzle." And I cannot do an
y
better than quote this American slang.

Sydney is a great city, a real city, and there's no need to say more.

During my short stay there I saw practically everything and was greatl
y
impressed by many things. But this is to be an account of my fishin
g
adventures in Australia, and it would take another volume to describe th
e
country itself.

From what information I could gather, the neighborhood of Montague Islan
d
had yielded most of the swordfish that had been seen and caught b
y
Australians. So after enjoying the hospitality of Sydney for severa
l
days, we gathered up bag and baggage and motored down the coast some tw
o
hundred and seventy-five miles to the little town of Bermagui, where w
e
established our camp.

It seems, as the years go by, that every camp I pitch in places fa
r
from home grows more beautiful and romantic. The setting of the on
e
at Bermagui bore this out in the extreme. From the village a gradua
l
ascent up a green wooded slope led to a jutting promontory that opene
d
out above the sea. The bluff was bold and precipitous. A ragge
d
rock-bound shoreline was never quiet. At all times I seemed aware o
f
the insatiate crawling sea. The waves broke with a thundering cras
h
and roar, and the swells roared to seething ruin upon the rocks.

Looking north across a wide blue bay, we could see a long whit
e
beach. And behind it dense green forest, "bush," leading to a bol
d
mountain range, and the dim calling purple of interior Australia. Thi
s
shoreline swung far to the north, ending in a cape that extended out
,
pointing to Montague Island, bare and bleak, with its lighthouse standin
g
erect, like a gray sentinel.

At this side of the promontory the great trees failed, leaving only a fe
w
standing away from the storm winds of the Antarctic, with bleache
d
gnarled branches. Beyond lay a few logs and these led to a long gree
n
slope down to the sea.

Camp of a dozen or so of tents we located in a grove of widely-separate
d
eucalyptus trees--gum trees they are called in Australia. They reminded m
e
of the pohutukawa trees of New Zealand. There were sunny glades an
d
plenty of shade, and foliage for the wind to sigh or mourn or roa
r
through, according to the mood of the wind. The fragrance of these tree
s
I had long known, because I have eucalyptus on my place in California
,
some lovely, lofty, silver-barked trees, and others low and dense
,
bearing the scarlet flowers. But here the fragrance was penetrating an
d
thick, like that of a fir forest in Oregon, only stronger. It paste
d
your nostrils shut.

Birds new to me sang in these trees and they were unnamable to me for
a
while, except the gulls, that come right into camp, up into the woods.

This was unprecedented and very intriguing. Sea birds, fish-eaters
,
visiting me in camp! It was a good augury. Maybe they thought I woul
d
bring lots of fish meat for them to eat.

And the kookaburra, the laughing jackass, what shall I say of thi
s
laughing devil of a friendly ludicrous bird? They came early and late
,
they sat and watched me, turning their heads, as if to express thei
r
interest, if not resentment: "Now who is this fellow, anyhow? We'l
l
have to see about him."

They were quite large, rather bulky forward, with dull white breasts an
d
gray backs and markings, with big heads and wicked long bills. All abou
t
them comic and friendly, except that terrible laugh! It awakened me a
t
dawn, and I heard it after I went to bed. I knew I would love them
,
despite the fear that maybe they were "giving me the laugh," and pealin
g
out with "Haw! Haw! Haw!" in several raucous tones at my temerity an
d
audacity in coming nine thousand miles to catch some fish. That laug
h
discouraged me a little. But as far as the fish were concerned I ha
d
only to look out over that dark blue ocean, the Tasman Sea, notorious fo
r
its currents and storms, its schools of whales and fish, to know that I
w
ould find new and boundless sport.

Chapter
II

The element of familiarity in all this newness and strangeness o
f
Australia was supplied by the presence of my boatman, Peter Williams, o
f
New Zealand, and my launch, the Avalon. She had been constructed from m
y
design by Collings in Auckland, and is comfortable, fast, and seaworthy.

With a long hard fishing trip planned, it is imperative that thes
e
features be present.

Peter used to be a whaler and that is why he is so efficient with rope
s
and moorings and boats. He is the brawniest and best man with a gaff wh
o
has ever stood beside me. Since 1927, when I first visited New Zealand
,
he has fished with me in many waters besides his own--California, Mexica
n
coast, Galapagos, Tahiti, South Sea Islands, and now we are in Australia.

It is needless to say that we look for an outstanding and wonderfu
l
experience.

From talking with the native fishermen and market fishermen at Bermagui
,
I learned considerable from which I could make deductions. There were
a
number of conflicting opinions, as well as some general statements i
n
which all concurred. One was that I could hardly be expected to catch
a
swordfish before February. And this was mid-January.

The old familiar wind and rough seas marked the first few days a
t
Bermagui. But we could not have gone out in any event, as it is a bi
g
job to pitch a camp of a dozen tents, all on board floors, and to build
a
serviceable kitchen and dining-room. The way we camp puts us in conflic
t
with the elements, if not wholly at their mercy. But that is what I lov
e
about living in the open--rain, shine, wind, calm, gale, and torrentia
l
downpour. We have already had them all.

On January 11th we started out for our first run, really a scouting trip.

For me it was difficult and poignant to take the initial step. That i
s
because I know what this start entails--the beginning of a protracte
d
period of hazardous, nerve-wracking, toilsome days. To get results yo
u
have to run out every day that is possible, and as the old Scotchma
n
said, "If you want to catch fish you must keep your flea in the water."

If you substitute the word bait for "flea" you will have a slogan fo
r
successful saltwater fishing.

We ran from our mooring out the mouth of a little river, against a
n
incoming tide, with a rugged low headland of rock on our right and
a
curved sand spit on our left, into a wide bay. A long white beac
h
wandered away to the north, and dim in the distance was our objective
,
Montague Island. Gulls were absent, at least on the water, and there wa
s
no evidence of bait or fish. The day was overcast, with promise o
f
clearing.

BOOK: American Angler in Australia (1937)
11.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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