Early January I joined my friends again for a week of camping at Blanket Bay near Cape Otway. It's starting to become a bit of a tradition for me – for them it has been a tradition for 30 years already.
This year we didn't have the full crew with us, some of us had missed out when the booking system opened and all campsites were quickly gone. Blanket Bay seems to become more popular every year, especially during school holidays.
Every year it is becoming more routine. Packing up my gear, some kept in boxes in my house so I just need to move them into the car. Making all luggage fit into the car. Buying ice and fish bait on the way out of Portarlington.
That's not to say it's becoming boring, I'm always looking forward to this week a long time in advance. Camping close to the beach far away from the city, koalas living in the trees above, being able to go for a swim in the ocean every morning – it's a week to relax and recover. It's also a great fishing spot and I spend a great amount of time practising my fishing knots and getting more experience.
I'm in the process of replacing most of my camera gear, so the only camera I brought (apart from my iPhone) was my Fujifilm X-M1 with a 27mm pancake lens. It's actually really exciting to only have one camera and one lens to use, because it forces me to miss out on some shots, like birds and wildlife, or put more thought into making it work with the lens I have at hand.
At the end of the week I felt like I made the most of it. I went swimming nearly every day, I went for an exciting walk all along the rocks from Blanket Bay to Parker river inlet and back along the Great Ocean Walk. I also did countless walks on the beach, but most importantly, I dramatically seemed to have improved my fishing skills.
The previous years I never really caught anything useful, and when I did, it was pure luck, like the large wrasse I caught on the last day of our camping trip last year. But this year, three times I went fishing, and three times I returned with a sweep, a fish considered to be a great table fish. On the third day I even returned with three sweep, all way above the size limit. It seemed so easy this time. I was able to put two in my ice box and so in the end I had fresh fish for lunch or dinner for most of the week. It was delicious!
I could definitely notice that this year was better than before. I'm starting to get a feeling for how to set up my fishing rig, what bait and hooks to use (and how), when the best time is to go fishing, and which spots I need to fish in order to catch what I'm after. It takes so much practice to figure it all out and it's finally paying off.
The one thing I still find hard to get used to is to kill a fish, once I caught one that is worth keeping. I guess it would be best not to think much about it and just do it, but killing a living and breathing creature is not something I can just accept as normal. The way I'm trying to justify it to myself is that I'm living off the land and fishing for my own consumption, which is probably more ethical than relying on food from industrial production.
Regarding the weather, the whole week we had superb weather, except for a few hours the day before we headed home. But overall it was a fantastic week and I'm already looking forward to next year.
More photos in the album Blanket Bay.