Rock lobster tour a fun thing to do in Two Rocks

Ethan Risely of Claremont with two of the western rock lobsters caught off Two Rocks before Christmas. Picture: Anita McInnes

JUST before Christmas a group of people from the western suburbs went out with Seafari Marine on a rock lobster pot pulling tour operating from the Two Rocks marina.

Yanchep News Online went along on the tour, which went out about 8km from the marina stopping to check pots along the way.

It was a relatively warm day but within minutes of the boat leaving the marina and heading out into the aqua-coloured ocean we could feel a gentle sea breeze.

The boat has a canopy so there was plenty of shade for those who needed a few minutes to get their sea legs.

Sam Doggart of Cottesloe and Todd Wilkins of Yanchep, who was deckhand for the day.

Owner Steve Mitchell used local knowledge and instruments including a GPS and sounder to locate pots and also to decide on new positions for them.

For bait he used orange roughy a deep-sea fish from Tasmania and New Zealand, which has a short season but is full of rich with omega-3, which he said the rock lobsters love.

Some jumbo western rock lobsters were retrieved from the pots but a small number of rock lobsters were undersize so they were quickly returned to the ocean.

Mr Mitchell pointed out one of the jumbo rock lobsters and said a year ago it would have fetched about $300 in China.

The winners of the Seafari rock lobster competition run in December – Avah Geerders, Aidan Geerders, Rob Geerders of Yanchep and Ben Mellor.

Todd Wilkins of Yanchep has worked in the rock lobster fishing, charter boats, pearling and prawning industries and will be the next skipper once they get paperwork completed successfully.

Mr Wilkins, who was the deckhand for the day, said the rock lobster changed its shell as it went through growth stages.

He said it went into sand areas to soften the outside shell which then fell off leaving a new shell underneath then once it returned to the reef its colour went darker and darker.

On the return trip we could see Guilderton and Moore River to the north and as we got closer to the marina one of the passengers spotted a small pod of dolphins including a calf.

Mr Mitchell said the dolphins were likely relatives of the former Atlantis marine park dolphins as they were not too worried about people and some of the fisherman fed them and they sometimes liked to race the boats.

Teenagers Sam Doggart of Cottesloe and Ethan Risely of Claremont both had a turn at lifting the pots onto the boat.

The Two Rocks marina is popular with boaties. Picture: Anita McInnes

At the end of the tour the teenagers and their family members including Sam’s mother Geraldine Reilly were able to take the catch home.

She said they had cooked some of the rock lobsters on the barbecue the same day, had some for Christmas, taken some to Albany and still had some left over for a linguine.

The opportunity (without a personal licence) to take live lobster catch off a boat and back to your home to cook is a relatively new concept and initiative by the tourism industry and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Last year the McGowan Government announced new rules for selected charter vessels to boost rock lobster fishing tourism to support local jobs and make more local lobsters available with WA’s individual recreational fisher bag limit of eight lobsters (maximum) per passenger maintained.