Giant Sawfish of Port Hedland

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Dated: 15th January 2005
Location: Australia/Western Australia /Pilbara Region/Port Hedland
I am constantly amazed by the fishing up here in Port Hedland. The variety and quality of fish available to the average angler makes fishing both exciting and rewarding no matter what your budget and experience level. While fishing from my tinny in the harbour recently, I was caught by surprise when I landed my first ever sawfish. When I first hooked up I thought I was snagged but the wild head shakes were a dead give away and before long 50lb fireline was screaming off my Penn 330GTI like I had just hooked up to a passing boat. Normally I can predict the type of fish on the end of my line before I see it but in this case I was totally stumped. There were short powerful runs followed by long periods of nothing interrupted by sudden short violent yanks. No fish I know fights like this. As the fight drew to a close I knew this was something different. The runs had stopped but the violent head shakes had increased. It felt like I was pulling up an underwater cable but someone was pulling on the other end. I started to wonder if I was the victim of a practical joke. When I finally caught sight of the biggest sawfish I had ever seen I was absolutely awestruck. It had inadvertently become entangled in my line (around that weapon hanging off its face) and managed to stay tangled long enough so I could bring this prehistoric looking creature to the surface. Not spent yet, the violent head shakes continued making it impossible to land. Those knives hanging off its nose could inflict some really nasty injuries to the unwary and I wasn’t taking any chances. I managed to tie a piece of rope around the ‘saw’ and hold the beast long enough to get some pics but the last thing I wanted to do was kill it so I untangled the fishing line, removed the rope and let it go. I was unable to measure accurately how long it was but I estimated that it was about 12ft in lenght based on a comparison to my boat. I did some research when I got home to find out more about the monster I had tangled with and found out some interesting facts. This particular sawfish is known as a green sawfish and is related to the ray family. They have been known to grow up to 7 meters long and with those spiky facial features they are quite adept at alluding capture. I was fishing in 60ft of water near the top of the tide on the last quarter of the moon using a combination of mulies (pilchards) and squid. Two days later I was fishing a creek mouth not far out of town for Barramundi when my line screamed off with familiar fury. I hoped this was to be the biggest Barra in history but was sure my live mullet had been gobbled by a hungry gutted shark and would be busted off any minute. Suddenly mid battle my other rod started to howl. The force of the fish on that line was such that my rod fell over and started heading for the water. I leapt into the water (still fighting the fish on my other rod) and managed to rescue it from a certain watery grave. Now came the interesting task of fighting two fish on two rods. With no one else to help this was going to be quite a task but it wasn’t long before I realised the same fish had taken both baits. I allowed the lighter line to sever and continued the fight with my penn 330. This time the fight was familiar. Violent head shakes, short runs, heavy tug of war with an unknown subterranean object. I was hooked up to another sawfish. This time I was on land so the pics were much better and my tape measure confirmed this monster to be 3.5 meters long! I had never caught a sawfish in my life and now I had managed to catch two of them in totally different circumstances in the same week. Go figure! ... Shane Baker