Just got back from a very pleasant trip south of Sydney to catch up with some oldish friends from our time out here in 2010. Phil Bolton is a familiar name to those of us who have been around fisheries issues in the Thames Valley as he worked in the early nineties for the Environment Agency first at Brampton laboratories and then as a fisheries officer in both Wallingford and Reading. I was told by my EA friends how to track him down in Sydney and we quickly became firm fishing pals and spent many happy hours chasing marlin, kingfish, Aussie salmon and bonito.
Phil, his lovely wife Jade and little Freddie were happily settled in Sydney’s Inner West area, not far from where Natalie and I lived in Balmain. Unfortunately a change of government in New South Wales saw the appointment of a National Party Fisheries Minister who was determined to close the award winning and perfectly located Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre where Phil worked and move the jobs out into rural NSW. This was despite a parliamentary inquiry ruling that the move was without any scientific justification and would be a massive waste of public money. Consequently the Boltons have had to up sticks for a second time and make a new home in Gerringong, a small town a couple hours south of the city.
Having to sort a house move and deal with his share of the sleepless nights that a teething child can create meant that despite being in Gerringong for nearly a month Phil had not been able to wet a line. So I guess our visit was a chance to put that right. There was certainly some great looking coastline to explore and lots of near deserted surf beaches that had to be worth a cast or two.
Phil has acquired two boats during his time in Oz both of which are well kitted out for fishing. There is the 4m tinnie “Cheap Thrills” and the more substantial 6m Barcrusher trailerboat “Thrillseeker”. With the wind blowing a hooley on the Good Friday our only time on the water was a short session before we left on Saturday morning. The sea had calmed down enough for us to try a quick run in the tinnie along the coast from the boat ramp to Black Head at Gerroa. This is a substantial rock platform with a reputation for both bonito and Aussie salmon. Our plan was to cast from the ocean towards the wash created by the rocks with both soft plastics and metal slices drawing and playing the fish away from danger and back towards the boat.
Exploratory trips are always a bit hit and miss but after just three hours on the water I got the distinct impression that Phil was more than happy with his new location. Home was less than two minutes from the boat ramp and the sounder showed plenty of fish schooled up around the rocky bommies which dot the coastline in these parts. We caught some nice salmon and bonito and I reckon on the right day there’ll be some serious kingies to grapple with along with the usual bream, snapper and flathead. All in all not a bad place to live when the sun is shining – which is most of the time!
On the way back to Sydney Natalie and I stopped to take in some of the views from the coast road that runs between the Royal national park and the ocean. Perhaps you can see why we like it here ?