Back in the 1980s my partner Rob and I owned a little half cabin cruiser called Sixpence. I loved catching blue swimmer crabs in Mosman Bay. We also used to fish for snapper off Sydney Heads, although heavy swells often forced us to retire to  calmer waters within the harbour.

Sixpence at her mooring in Mosman Bay.

Crabbing on  Sixpence,  at her mooring in Mosman Bay.















My mother would join us on Sixpence when she holidayed with us from Tasmania.

Fishing in Sydney Harbour

What a catch!

Early one Sunday morning we dropped anchor near Fort Dennison, hoping to settle our stomachs and maybe catch a nice trevally or two. To solve the problem of undersized, nibbling bream I baited my hook with a large hunk of squid…enough to keep the little blighters happy for at least an hour. I lounged back in my swivel seat, one leg draped over the side of the boat.  In one hand I  held my rod, and  in the  other  a thick honey sandwich (I recommend honey for queasiness).

Suddenly there was a disturbance in the water about 50 metres away. An enormous fish broke the surface. Its eyes were as large as saucers (well nearly!) It was a tailor of  truly remarkable proportions.

This fish is known for its fighting qualities, as I was about to find out!

Eyes as big as saucers!

Eyes as big as saucers!

It submerged, and seconds later my rod was wrenched from my hand. I was sent sprawling into the side of the motor housing, honey sandwich impaled on a thumb. The fishing rod became airborne, then splashed down and knifed through the water in the direction of the Opera House.

As I struggled to my feet there was a resounding BOOM. The Opera House shook, and its famous  sails changed position,

We returned home in shock, with me  mourning the loss of my rod. Later the same day a ‘hammerhead shark’ was reported, floating unconscious in Farm Cove. However,  before a positive identification could be made it  revived.  The creature  took off  in the direction of the Heads. We kept our mouths shut, but we knew damn well it was no hammerhead….it was my giant tailor, its front end  deformed  and   swollen  from the collision.

I  now feel  a pang of guilt whenever I read stories about the Opera House’s foundations crumbling. On the other hand , the acoustics are said to have mysteriously improved. This was put down to the   seasoning of internal timbers , but of course it was that  accidental shifting  of the  sails!


Sydney Opera House before being ‘tailored’ (Wikipedia)


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