The Mako Lap, Yorke Peninsula, SA

Story by Dan Burgess

We drove quickly through Adelaide, with only enough time to enjoy some of the fantastic Vietnamese pho that’s on offer in some areas of the city. Our rush was two-fold, firstly we believed the faster we traveled the sooner we could escape both our families, who had joined us on KI for two weeks. Secondly we had plans to visit the Barossa Valley, only an hour from Adelaide, to sample wines and visit Maggie Beers Farm.

As expected the Barossa was an adventure for your taste buds and your various hangover cures. So as not to destroy our budget and livers completely, we only stayed for a couple of days before opting to head to the Yorke Peninsula.

At the southern tip of Yorke Peninsula is Innes National Park which we had our sights set on . As is our standard operational procedure (SOP), we spent a day exploring the park while checking wind forecasts to decide which camp ground would best suit us for a long stay. Of course the best one appeared full. We stopped and jumped out of the car just to make sure. A group of families from the Adelaide Hills had taken most spots and explained that more friends were still arriving so there wasn’t much space. We in turn explained that we had cold beer, Barossa wine and could catch fresh fish. We were quickly substituted for the family yet to arrive, besides only one was a lie; we did have beer and wine! Their friends did arrive the next day and one of them was a keen fisho, he wears MAKO and drives the same 4wd as us. So we promptly stickered up the car with a MAKO vinyl.

At Shell Beach camp site we stayed a full week with at least 4 days being over 40c! Shell Beach is stunning and at one end there is a huge natural rockpool which is the perfect swimming pool. Its deep, is surrounded by smooth flat rocks, and has a perfect influx of cool southern ocean water. On the seaward side of the rock pool there is a deepwater ledge ideal for fishing. The setup is magic. You can fish, swim and snorkel all day long. Off the rocks it was a mixture of various wrasse species, salmon, tommy rough and sweep. Coming from NSW it was great to be catching a mixed bag of new species with the highlight here for me being blue throat wrasse. These reminded me somewhat of small blue groper but being less picky about what they would eat. With the G3H6 lens you could make them out in the deeper berley trail. You could sight fish for them by pulling the bait out of the way of the other fish and trying to let it sink to the large blue throat below. Great fun on light rockfishing tackle. They also have nice firm white flesh but am told it doesn’t keep well so should be eaten within 24 hours…not a problem!!

After a week bush camping we had to find a caravan park to refill the batteries and water tanks. Travelling up the west coast of the peninsula we soon arrived at a caravan park that overlooked a large wharf and had a pub 200m away, sold! Point Turton caravan park was so good we extended our stay from 2 nights to 5. We had moved only 50 odd km’s from the pristine beaches of Innes National Park, but then I've never been accused of being the fastest cab off the rank.

As always the MAKO’s were invaluable as the squid could be sight cast to while they cruised the crystal clear water. They also helped us catch Blue Swimmer crabs we spotted while on the wharf so quickly got our trap and caught some delicious crabs.

Point Turton is further up the gulf than Innes which sits right on the southern tip, as a result the area was very different, more like a large bay with vast sandflats and weed beds. Quite different terrain to what I had been fishing. To get an idea of what was in the area I snorkelled under the large wharf, I was also keen to try and spot any King George whiting which I was finding elusive and still had not caught. Under the wharf was spectacular and had me itching to fish, alas no whiting though. The wharf fished well for garfish and large squid. As always the MAKO’s were invaluable as the squid could be sight cast to while they cruised the crystal clear water. They also helped us catch Blue Swimmer crabs we spotted while on the wharf so quickly got our trap and caught some delicious crabs.

Did I mention there was a pub? It didn’t take long before the sweet siren song of chicken parma and beer lured us to the Turton Hotel. Here we met two liked minded lovers of food and alcohol. Marie and Aussie lived on the Peninsula and owned one of the only vineyards in the area. Emoyeni Vineyard is a small family run vineyard that specializes in Riesling and Shiraz. An offer of a tasting session while we shared some freshly caught seafood was a tough decision. hmmmmm……we tried to play it cool but I think they noticed the tears of joy welling up in my eyes. Besides Emily giggling like a school girl at the prospect of drinking local Reisling with the winemakers was the real giveaway.

It can be uncomfortable when you try someone’s pride and joy only to secretly hate it. Fortunately this was not one of those occasions. Both drops where delicious and we soon had a great little schedule going each afternoon where I would supply fresh squid and Ozzie and Marie the wine. We got on so well that when we left Point Turton it was straight to vineyard to help do a bit of work and then to their house for our last few days on the Yorke Peninsula.

While staying at their house near Ardrossan on the east side of Yorke Peninsula I continued to chase the elusive King George whiting only to discover that SA is also blessed with great numbers of Yellowfin Whiting, Em’s favourite eating fish. Once I had caught a couple Emily took over catching large Yellowfin whiting between sips of Emoyeni Reisling, she was certainly in her element.

It was also here that I finally got to see people ‘raking’. Its amazing that there are so many blueswimmer crabs at times that you can walk the shallows spotting semi buried crabs and quickly whip them up in a rake and pop them in a bucket, hence ‘raking’. Here is another fishing technique where your MAKO’s would definitely be invaluable.

Having spent several weeks on Yorke Peninsula it was time to make the run for the Eyre peninsula