Norfolk Island: Abundant bounty in predatory seas

By Bill Falconer

With only two landing places on Norfolk, boats are launched through nifty work from skippers and helpers. Photo / Supplied
With only two landing places on Norfolk, boats are launched through nifty work from skippers and helpers. Photo / Supplied

The call comes at 7am. The wind has finally dropped and we can go fishing.

Norfolk Island has only two landing places - on opposite sides of the island - though to call them landing places is rather a misnomer. In fact there are only jetties and launching our boat requires nifty work by the skipper and his helper.

Darren Bates, who runs the fishing arm of Advance Tours, arrives with his 10m NoosaCat hooked up behind a very workmanlike 4WD with mum in the passenger seat. The boat is backed on to the jetty, stops under the derrick, the trailer is unhooked and the 4WD driven 50m back up the jetty and fastened to a steel cable.

Darren attaches the lifting strops on the boat to the hook on the end of the cable, and, as mum slowly drives up the jetty, the boat is lifted off the trailer, swung out over the water and lowered to deck height. The intrepid fishermen clamber aboard, the boat is lowered, the motors start, and we're off.

We head out about 20km to where Darren is sure we'll find the target catch of trumpeter, or sweet lip. He is right. No sooner have lines gone into the water than the catch begins - trumpeter, kingfish, black cod, gold cod and small sharks. None is particularly big, but they are plentiful.

The wind is getting up again and the sea is building, so Darren calls time, and the boat heads back to the jetty.

The launching process is reversed, and the boat and catch are safely deposited back on the trailer.

A small table is set up at the end of the jetty and filleting begins. One of the fisherman is asked to get a bucket of water but returns empty handed. When asked why he didn't just reach over and retrieve the bucket he says, "Because there are a whole lot of bloody big sharks down there."

And there are, about 10 bronze whalers circling round to catch the scraps from the filleting process.

The catch is divvied up between the fishermen, and a fine lunch is guaranteed for all.

Bill Falconer paid his own way to Norfolk Island.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 23 Nov 2014 03:27:15 Processing Time: 1189ms