Mick Reid and his dad Jim from Victoria are camped there. They have fished around the Cape and just trolled 20 kilometres through the water off Mutee Head. Nothing much more than puffer fish and a little pike they hope to use for bait.
Mick, a fitter, has had time off to battle cancer. He’s had dozens of radium treatments. Jim, 78, has a faint accent that betrays his early years near Glasgow. His wife died not long ago. He decided to spend his life savings setting up a vehicle, off-road caravan and boat to bring his recuperating son north on the fishing trip of a lifetime.
They are having a ball. Mick is feeling 100% better. But there’s no fish. Mick says that if he wanted to catch fish he would have been better staying home and going to the south Sydney coast around Eden. That’s where the fishing is really good.
Signs of life are in the sea early the next morning. A family of porpoise bobs past about 60 metres from shore, heading south. An hour later a croc, maybe 3m or 4m, cruises past heading north in the same lane. That’s it.
We leave Mick and Jim setting off hopefully in their boat aiming to lure something sizeable by dangling their pike – a commendable bait fish we affirmed – in the azure sea. (See photo above)
Vrilya Point was the best place to fish, we heard. Few roads in the far north are marked so working out which track to take can require a process of elimination. Troopy Trailer didn’t like the look of the log bridge so we gave that a miss. We later spoke to several hopefuls who braved the bridge. Nothing caught.
On the way back down south, we hear more forlorn stories. A retiree Queenslander among a vexation of Victorians at Bramwell Roadhouse says he knew of one big catch. “Me. I was the catch of the day for the bloke who sold me all this fishing gear to come to the Cape.”
At Archer River, a young bloke is packing up with a similar sad fishing tale. His mate bought 200 lures to come fishing on the Cape and hardly had a bite. Every second vehicle has a boat atop. Most, we suspect, stayed as dry as the one on Roscoe’s Cruiser.
The south-south-easterlies were blamed. It was too cold. An intergalactic superhighway is about to be bulldozed through the peninsular and the fish, like the dolphins in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, have fecked off. So long and thanks for all the dolphins.
We drifted into the Lakeland National Park to find the famous lagoons and water lilies. Fellow travellers had told us the area was a bit boring but we thought we would wander through anyway.
We camped beside a saltwater creek. Tony noticed activity in a tidal pool. Half an hour later Roscoe had a barramundi that provided dinner for four around the campfire. Next morning Tony landed a half-metre flathead. After the couple of decent barramundi the boys landed just after we set out for the cape, we were grateful.