Tuesday, November 30, 2010

recollections of Port Macquarie: fishing trawlers

* a collection of stories and memories, in no particular order, from the life and times of John Clarke, who served as a policeman in the Australian Police Force, a great practical joker, he also had a great affinity with people and wildlife, was a champion swimmer, snooker player, loved golf, still loves fishing and is also an artist. I hope you enjoy his recollections - cheers, karin (his daughter)

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I used to go out on the fishing trawlers at Port Macquarie, trapping snapper, king prawning and catching lobsters and had some huge catches compared to what they catch these days.  I used to go with Ron, John and Kanga Elford.  They would get so many snapper and leather jackets in the traps that when they started to haul them up, they'd float up to the surface faster than the winch could turn.

Prawning was at night - all night and a long way out.  Big schools of giant sharks used to follow us, waiting for us to sort each catch.  We would pull the nets for 2 or 3 hours, then bring them up and sort out the prawns from everything else - all sorts of interesting stuff.  I would dry out interesting crabs, et, and inject them with formalin and varnish them.

The Elford's trawler family discovered lobsters on the Continental Shelf in the very deep water and they put traps down with surface buoys, but couldn't get them back for weeks due to the current pulling the buoys under, but eventually the buoys would surface when the current dropped off and they retrieved the traps - absolutely full of big lobsers = 20 or 30 or 50 dozen at a time!  The lobsters used to travel to this area in September-October.  Because the traps were down so long, they had to use sundried tough meat for bait.  They would use kangaroos and cows killed on the roads.

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