Sharks no longer Permit-ed

Hervey bay sunset

I know..I’ll stop with the puns..

However, if you’re interested in a short story with the romance of a Jane Austin novel, the suspense of Dan Brown and the heartbreak of a Julia Roberts film (all while being considerably less sickafantic about it) then keep reading.

The sun was rising and we had just spent the night at a localĀ pearl farm after dealing with the vehicle rollover (see starting to get a handle on Broome).

The sun rising over Willie Creek
The sun rising over Willie Creek

Tim and our ride sharer Jessi had decided that a late morning was going to suit them better. Though, for me, once the sun was up it was almost impossible not to walk to the waters edge for a look.

Typical morning time camp set up
Typical morning time camp set up

I boiled some of Broome service stations finest tap water for a cup of coffee and then, mug in hand toddled down the sandy pathway to the water.

I trotted barefoot across the greying and ancient looking limestone as I wiped the sleep from my eyes and felt around my pant pocket to find my ever important Mako sunglasses in preparation for the rise of a tangelo burning sun. I moved closer to the water’s edge steadily scraping shells and shattered limestone from the callouses in my feet when I began to hear commotion on the water.

I picked up the pace and broke into a steady jog in anticipation of what would be at the waters edge.

The surface was alive with bait and no shortage of predatory fish chiming in on the bounty. I spotted a Long-Tom chasing some bait and after identifying the size and colour of the prey, I had to run back to the car and grab my 9weight TFO Mangrove.

Before I knew it I was back at the waters edge with my rod in hand and a dust cloud reminiscent of Wiley Coyote behind me.

I began stripping the line off my 3-tand TF70 at a rate of knots and within seconds I had a brown buck tail clouser in the water. I worked it quickly through the bait school hoping to pick up a fish on the surface only to receive the attention of a toothy and frustrating Long-Tom.

4/0 buck tail Clouser Minnow
4/0 buck tail Clouser Minnow

I repeatedly made 30 foot roll casts right into the heart of the school with a fly I had great confidence in.
“What’s the problem? I’d eat that” I kept telling myself.

I brought the line to the surface and attempted to perform a ‘snap-roll’ Oliver Edwards style only to have the line fall in a heap at barely 15 feet from the water edge.

Baby Giant Trevally and 3-Tand TF70
Baby Giant Trevally and 3-Tand TF70

Rapidly losing confidence I was contemplating my next move when all of a sudden coils of line started whipping around my feet. I grabbed a hold of the tangled fly line and heaved back a strip strike for the ages. I was on and before long a beautiful tidal Barramundi was in my hands.

A 600mm Chrome bar
A 600mm Chrome bar

As I was dealing with capture I half noticed a movement in the water. I ignored it and continued unhooking the catch.

Again, I noticed something. A black fork tail but not quite like that of a small Trevally or Queenfish that you would find in the mouth of an estuary. The sickles on its tail were long. So long in fact that the top cordal fin began to droop at the end back down toward its partner.

I threw the Barra back and stood up straight intrigued by what it was. Not entirely sure but knowing that it was probably worth catching I made an arbitrary cast about 20 feet in front of me in a place where I thought ‘its possible’.

Nothing.

I didn’t see the fish for another 5 minutes when suddenly, right where I had previously hooked up I saw it savaging a group of prawns.

‘Skip, skip, skip’ across the surface of the aquamarine tide went the prawns as an Anak Permit pursue them.

Though I was skeptical as to whether this fish which holds such prestige would eat my minnow imitation, I unsuspectingly picked up my Clouser and again performed a ‘snap roll’ this time executing it perfectly.

The fly landed about 8 feet in front of the fishes swim path and as it approached I tried my best to imitate a prawn by handing short, sharp strips. To my great surprise the fish almost immediately warmed to my fly and attacked it with vigor.

Only once the fish began to run did I understand why a 8 or 9 weight rod is recommended. This fish of only about 3 kilos had nearly no problem taking my reel back to braid.

Getting side on in the current and screaming out to sea I was continually amazed at the speed and power of the fish. Though after its initial two runs, the fish did begin to tire.

I could see the fish planing on the surface still furiously kicking it’s tail as I leant toward my left shoulder with the tip of a rod in an effort to get the fish facing me.

The Anak took one last resurgent run. Or so I thought. This run was too big for a last ditch effort and the chaotic thumping that every cradle to grave fisherman fears began to appear in my rod tip.

Before to long I had accepted the fate of my prize to be and just as I was coming to terms, a healthy looking whaler shark rose from the depths and screamed through the top water column with its mouth open in what I’m convinced was an effort to remove the small Permit scales from its ivory grin.

I was gutted. Absolutely gutted.

Though its certainly not the first time I have received a notice of assessment from the taxman, it certainly puts a spring in ones step and has motivated me to chase down the next of my fishing goals more than ever.


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