FISHING: Monster rises from the deep

A 40-KILOMETRE offshore trip aboard a little boat named Chunky has landed the fish of a lifetime for Western Suburbs cricketer Ben Woolmer and former Newcastle Knights forward Adam Woolnough.

The pair hauled up a 65.3-kilogram bass groper from the sea floor almost 600metres below.

Woolmer and Woolnough are both keen anglers but Woolmer said Monday’s was his biggest deep-water catch.

‘‘They’re a big fish,’’ Woolmer said. ‘‘I’ve never seen or heard of one that big.

‘‘You see them on YouTube that big but not locally.’’

Woolmer said it took more than half an hour using an electric reel to pull up the bass groper from the depths.

He had previously caught big gemfish and blue-eye trevalla but this was his first bass groper.

The trip to the fishing grounds took about 90 minutes in his 5.6-metre boat.

‘‘[The sea] was a bit rough in the morning but it glassed out towards the end of the day so it was a nice run home,’’ Woolmer said.

Woolmer is better known as skipper of Western Suburbs cricket club.

He and Woolnough, who plays prop for Lakes United, fish out wide four or five times a year.

‘‘I’d nearly rather fish these days [than play cricket]. I’m only playing one more year of cricket then I’ll have more time to go fishing.’’

Click on the image above to see a gallery of past Fish of the Week winners, including a full-length shot of this week's.

Northern exposure

WE can thank Ray Stenhouse for the tip-off on the giant bass groper.

The Charlestown Fishing Club president was chatting from Weipa where he’d just landed some pikey bream and a batfish in the Mission River estuary system.

He’s with a group of five vehicles pushing north up Cape York where they’ll next fish at Seisia for a week.

Storm chaser

THREE days holed up in a Florida hurricane won’t deter Hamilton fly-fisherman Marty Sprott from chasing mighty tarpon again.

The former Telstra-technician has returned from three weeks fishing in the Gulf of Mexico where the entire state of Florida was on emergency flood watch during Hurricane Debby.

The hurricane just happened to pound the spot near Tallahassee where Sprott was based with Queenslander Dave Bradley.

Coastal residents evacuated to higher ground and well-known Florida guide Harry Spear and family took refuge at Sprott’s holiday house. About 81cm of rain fell in one day. Trees fell, a boat washed up and the sea level rose 1.8m.

‘‘It was worse than the Pasha Bulker storm,’’ Sprott said.

But all wasn’t lost. In the days either side of the hurricane, Sprott landed a tarpon estimated to be 36-45kg and another about 27kg. Tarpon are at the pinnacle of saltwater fly-fishing.

‘‘I had a ball. I’m going back, it was that exciting.’’

Harbour lizards

ANGLERS have been nailing flathead in Newcastle Harbour, says Simon Rowe, from Tacklepower Sandgate.

‘‘Plenty of guys I know have been bagging out on dusky flathead, getting 10 fish per person in no time at all,’’ Rowe said. ‘‘They’re using soft plastics but also getting them on Hawkesbury River prawns.

‘‘Some of [the flathead] are up to 85cm but a lot are around the 40 to 45cm mark, which are good eating fish.’’

There were some good bream and a few jewfish off Stockton breakwall.

In Lake Maquarie, there had been good catches of bream on the western side.

Big whiting were taking live worms on the sandflats.

Tailor were at the Drop Over and near the Eraring hot water outlet.

Tailor were also being caught at Hawks Nest.

Rowe said offshore anglers were also reported to be heading out for southern bluefin tuna off the Central Coast and Sydney.

Deep water wide of Nelson Bay was offering bar cod thanks to slow winter currents.

To bring this column full circle, like Woolmer and Woolnough, you’ll need an electric reel, a deck winch or, in the words of Rowe, ‘‘arms like Popeye’’.

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