The ten of us slept while the Skipper and Deckhand steamed the 44 ft HMV James Cook out the mouth of Round Hill Creek to Fitzroy Lagoon four hours out from the Town of Seventeen Seventy. We spent three days on the clear blue ocean on our latest deep sea disability fishing adventure.
Fitzroy Lagoon is a horse shoe shaped coral reef we anchored in of a night as it breaks the ocean swell and is quite calm inside. The boys stayed up most nights drinking Rum & Coke catching foot long squid. We did see one near a meter long which is to big and dangerous to bring aboard as squid ink can blind you permanently.
A farting contest had us all up at 4:00 am scrambling from the lower hull with tears in our eyes. It is a strange feeling to look around and see nothing but water. The weather conditions were excellent with 10 knot winds and a 1 to 1.5m swell.
We ventured out to fish the 100 meter deep Continental Shelf one day but mostly fished the reefs and bombies around Fitzroy Lagoon catching a wide variety of fish species including; Red Throat, Red Emperor, Husser, Parrot, Slatey Bream, Squire and Coral Cod.
With my power wheelchair tied to the fridge and my fishing rod bent 90 degrees over the rail I dead winched a 9 pound Red Emperor up 60m with my power wheelchair fishing rod. I was sure the rod was going to snap. I did break the top two runners off one rod by over-winding. As the boat rocked to my side dipping down I learnt to wind a little faster and ease off the power as it rose up again.
Rib fillet steak burgers, bacon and eggs, curried sausages, apple crumble and custard were just some delights the deckhand cooked up for us. We simply left my wheelchair tied to the fridge and railing on the shaded rear deck and carried me to and from bed. This was my first time fishing the Continental Shelf and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
The skipper and deckhand were hugely impressed by my “ability” how Gavin turned my electric powered wheelchair into a power fishing rod and the way I’m treated like just another one of the guys. We all had an awesome time sharing many laughs.
Keeping around 150 fish in the end, eight Red Emperor in total, the most sought after when reef fishing as they’re a great table fish (nice to eat). The biggest a 13 pound Red Emperor caught by “Big Chris.” We filled my father’s 6×4 box trailer with fish laiden eskies.
Being a wheelchair bound quadriplegic I found it ironic I needed to find my “land legs” still rocking for a day or two afterwards. I’d never really thought about it but it makes sense, obviously as a quadriplegic my legs don’t work, but I was still left with the rocking sensation back on land as it’s an eye to brain connection that gives you sea legs and the wobbly feeling.
Two hours from home my van’s alternator died at Gympie. With 150 fish on ice we needed quick thinking. My brother Gavin took one of the batteries from my power wheelchair and drove the rest of the way home by Dolphin torch light and following Dad’s car.
My pre-existing pressure area had broken down from all the rocking on the boat but has healed over again after a week in bed, well worth it. I recently heard the HMV James Cook no longer operates, apparently replaced by a bigger boat. There are many fishing charters available from the Town of Seventeen Seventy.
Where: Town of Seventeen Seventy, QLD. Australia.
Cost: 3 Days at sea $380.00 per person. All meals included. BYO alcohol and sea sick tablets.
Rating: Awesome, if you enjoy deep sea reef fishing a must do.