TWO Warrnambool brothers out for a morning’s fishing had the ride of their life yesterday when an adult whale latched onto their anchor and towed them about 60 metres before they cut it free.
“It was a one-in-a-million chance,” Barry and Geoff Hose told The Standard.
“We were lucky we had so much rope attached otherwise it may have dragged us down.”
It will go down as one of the most memorable days in local fishing folklore. They were in Barry’s 16-foot Savage boat anchored about six kilometres off Warrnambool in about 50-metre-deep water with four rods baited for snapper and gummy shark.
The brothers left Warrnambool breakwater launching ramp shortly after 7am to take advantage of rare calm weather and had caught a few snapper when the drama unfolded.
“We saw a whale approaching in the distance headed in the direction of Logans Beach and then it disappeared,” Barry said.
“About five to 10 minutes later our boat suddenly took off.
“There had been a bit of a swell and at first I thought the boat movement was because of a strong wave.
“Then we realised it was the whale which must have hooked onto our anchor rope or the anchor itself.
“My old boat which normally only has a top speed of eight kilometres an hour suddenly was travelling at a speed of about 20 to 30 (km/h).
“Then it stopped and the rope went slack.
“I said to Geoff, ‘we should be right now, the rope’s probably dropped off’.
“When the rope went slack it was probably the whale coming towards the surface again.
“You could see the boils in the water from its tail movement.
“But then it took off again heading towards the coast and we had to cut the rope.
“It seemed to be in a bit of a hurry.
“There would have been 50 fathoms of 10 millimetre rope attached to the anchor.
“Fortunately having that amount of rope meant there was less chance of us being pulled under the water.”
Barry, a 72-year-old retired professional fisherman, said he had seen hundreds of whales during his 22-year career in Victoria and Western Australia, but had never heard of one of the ocean giants tangling with an anchor in Australian waters.
He said he believed yesterday’s whale was a southern right, which frequent the south-west coastline during winter. “It didn’t fully surface when it was near us, but you could see it was a dark colour,” he said.
Geoff, a retired upholsterer who often accompanies his brother on fishing trips off Warrnambool, said he got a “bit of a fright”.
“Whales have certainly got a bit of power,” he said.
The brothers hope they’ll also get lucky in Tattslotto.