Whale of a time

By: Ian Macrae, Photography by: Ian Macrae

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Whale of a time
Fishing Destination: Townsville, North Queensland

After 35 years of writing boating and fishing stories I thought I’d seen and done it all. I’ve skipped a 24ft half-cabin boat across Bass Strait in a howling gale, caught every major sportfish in Australia, including a 1000lb marlin, but my most memorable catch was a 1.25m freshwater barramundi on 6kg line – until now that is.

During a recent snapper fishing trip off the Gold Coast, I had the most unbelievable fishing experience off a lifetime when I accidentally hooked and played, or should I say it played me, a 30-tonne humpback whale.

I’d gone up to the Gold Coast to complete a snapper fishing story with my son Stewart when the encounter happened about 27km off the coast. We were drifting fishing gravel beds in 60m of water and had only caught a few smaller fish, but we were kept entertained by the antics of many passing humpbacks all morning.

Then, right out of the blue, just as we dropped our bait for a new drift, a huge whale expelled air as it past right under our boat. The massive burst of air had all onboard staring over the sides and we could clearly see the massive creature about 10m down (Stewart’s boat has a black and grey hull and it seems the whale took the boat for another whale and had come over to have a closer look).

That’s when it happened. The 36kg-braided line started screaming from my reel and I realised the whale had become accidentally hooked. It takes a lot to break 36kg braid, because it actually breaks at around 72kg. So, there I was, being dragged all over the boat, by a creature as big as a bus as it circled us, because of the pull the line was asserting on it.

Then, a strange thing happened, the whale stopped in front of the boat, lifted its head out of the water and I swear it looked me straight in the eye as if to say what the @#*& are you playing at stupid? It circled us one last time, bashing me around the boat even more, then, dived and the line came free. You see I hadn’t hooked this whale, my line had only become entangled on its barnacle encrusted head.

But if you want to read the whole story about this amazing encounter you’ll have to race out and buy the next edition of TrailerBoat magazine – the story "The humpbacks’ song" is well worth it.


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