It's 6:30 in the morning and the sun is up but behind light cloud cover so everything has an orange hue to it. The rod in your hand bounces as something nudges your lure. The rest of the world disappears and you're holding your breath waiting for the next bite. That's when chaos erupts around you, the rod in the rod holder behind you jerks violently and almost tips you out of your kayak. The rod you're holding buckles over at the same time, probably saving you from capsizing. This is what offshore kayak fishermen are looking for, the feeling of being on the edge and the adrenalin that comes with it! Some kayakers want to be closer to that edge than others, and its for this reason that offshore kayak fishing isn't for everyone.
The trip to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands took weeks of planning and preparation. The call went out in late August, when Central Regional Tafe announced they were running a three-day Kayak Training Course. Spots filled and the dates were set for early October. It was going to be one last effort before the West Coast Demersal closure started.
We would be loading our kayaks onto the Masterclass, the Tafe's 20m boat, traveling across to the Islands to fish and complete a competency course in kayak fishing.
THE TRIP OUT
Almost immediately, the nightly preparation started, checking safety equipment, watching the weather, checking our kayaks for sea worthiness, replacing older gear, servicing and respooling reels, looking over nautical charts and researching as much information on the area we expected to fish as possible. Fortunately, the biggest hurdles were handled for us. Getting to the islands, food and sleeping arrangements were all taken care of as part of the course. On the boat would be anglers from different backgrounds, ages, skill levels and fishing styles. Amongst the kayaks that were loaded onto the Masterclass were a variety of pedal and paddle kayaks, with everything from the most basic paddle kayaks right through to rigs worth thousands of dollars. The one thing everyone had in common was a passion for kayak fishing.