Journal of Dan T. Cook - Fly Fishing the Globe
Traveling 75,000 miles around the world in search of fish and friendship.
November 5, 2006
I departed Pemberton and headed north to Mandurah to stay with Shann Low and his family for a couple of days. Shann and his son Kelvin operate Fly West Fishing Charters (www.flywest.com.au). Shann and I immediately began commiserating about the trout fishing in Southwest Australia, as he only recently moved his family up to Mandurah. Although I was skeptical, he insists there are rivers where you can employ a "normal" cast in that region.
Shann and his family were extremely generous, insisting that we stay in the guesthouse rather than set up camp in the area. I was grateful to have a regular bed to sleep in and home-cooked meals to eat. During and after each delicious dinner, Shann and I would sit down and peruse satellite maps of Northwest Australia and discuss our impending fishing destinations: Shark Bay and Exmouth. These two peninsulas are the premier fishing destinations in Western Australia. Shann related many stories of catching gargantuan fish and I became rather anxious to get back on the road and onto the fishing.
The whole Low clan; Mary, Kelvin, Daniel and Heather became a second family to me during my stay. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to them for their hospitality and kindness. I will be back!
My stay in Perth was very brief and purposeful. As advised by Peter Morse, one of the foremost fly fishing authorities in Australia, I was to look up Rohan Smith and Craig Radford. A brief, yet educational rendezvous ensued and I came away with a game plan for fishing the Exmouth area. I'd like to thank both gentlemen for taking time out of their work day to assist me.
I arrived into Shark Bay and made the Blue Dolphin Caravan Park in Denham the center of operations. Shark Bay is a World Heritage Area and is spend out across the peninsula, about a 120 x 30 kilometer area. It reminded me of Joshua Tree NP in that there are areas of the Park that are well off the beaten path. The main difference in Shark Bay, especially in the off-season, is that you can go all day without seeing another person. The roads in Peron NP are labeled "4 wheel drive only," and that is a bit of an understatement. It should be an emphatic "4 WHEEL DRIVE ONLY OR YOU'LL DEFINITELY GET STUCK!!!!!" There were numerous instances that I was glad I opted for the locking differentials on the LandCruiser.
I headed to the local hardware store to find "Bonefish" Bob, the de facto mayor of Denham and the definitive, up-to-date fishing authority. Bob greeted me with a smile and said "you must be looking to find out where to fish!" He pulled out a map, scribbled a few lines, circled a few spots, mentioned a bunch of fish species I didn't know and I was off fishing in no time! Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck. The Summer is the windy season despite our efforts and Bob's direction, all I hooked were some Pink-earred Emperor fish and a River Gar. Apparently, "Pink-ears" are good eating and when I told Bob of my catch, he seemed particularly pleased. I, on the other hand, was hoping for trevally, bonefish or some other recognized "game fish." I fished in substantial gusting winds the next two days with no luck. Shark Bay and Peron National Park are extraordinarily beautiful and I wish I could have extended my stay for the rest of the Summer. The monster fish are definitely there. Unfortunately, I have to keep to the schedule and, fortunately for me, the next stop is Exmouth.