Friday 21 March 2008

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© John Sawyer – February 2008

You could say that I’m not really a great fan of fishing.  I probably relate to it in much the same way as Mark Twain related to golf when he said: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Hannah was certainly expecting some drama as I drove us along the track to the secluded beach near Warrnambool. “Will the fish already be dead when we catch them, Grandpa?”

“No Hannah, if the fish are already dead when we catch them, they won’t be much good to eat. If we want to eat the fish, we’re going to have to catch them alive and then kill them.” Silence, but Hannah’s eyebrows formed themselves into their twisted caret mode (^^).  She already had doubts about her blood thirsty grandfather after her mother described me teaching snails to fly across the road when she too was a young girl. The two minute younger Mick was more laid back. After looking out the window for a while he asked. “Can I hold a rod Grandpa?”

My mate who was guiding us held other expectations. “This is a great spot to fish John. When I was a kid, we’d ride down after school and haul them in. I’ve looked at the tide book and its high tide in about half an hour. I reckon we’ll catch the limit easy. These pipis are great bait, just what the fish will be feeding on”

The two of us had headed off to harvest bait at another equally beautiful beach the day before. “This is a great spot to get bait John. When I was a kid we’d ride down here with a bucket and spade and dig for sand worms. All you could want in just a couple of minutes digging.” The more astute reader will already understand that things had not gone so well with worm hunting. We’d decided to buy frozen pipis from the local Milk Bar instead.  Perhaps I should have guessed that this evening’s exercise would be just as unsuccessful.

We walked a kilometre to the beach and started to untangle the fishing lines while the kids raided my rucksack for fruit bars. After just a few minutes and one rusty fish hook jarred in the fleshy bit of my calf, we had both lines in the water with the kid’s fingers on the nylon lines waiting for the telltale jerk of the first bite.

“Shit we’ve got one already.” “You said the S word Grandpa.” “Did I, Hannah?” I’d been watching the spray blown off the top of the surf and my mind had wandered off for a bit. The twangs on the line brought me back to reality. I looked down to young Mick who had a big grin on his face. The budding guitarist had started to strum out “Smoke on the Water” on the taught fishing line. Just too much temptation to resist.

I hauled in the line and started to re-bait the hooks. I’d just removed a hook from my finger and: “This is no good here John. The crabs are stealing the bait. I reckon we should move to that headland up there. I reckon the crabs won’t be so bad.” My mate headed 400 metres up the beach. By the time I’d harvested the sandals, jeans and drink bottles into my rucksack and collected the bag of frozen bait and jammed it in the fishing bag with the tide book, my mate and the kids had already set up the rods.

my mate and the kids had already set up the rods

“Can we paddle Grandpa?” “Yes, but only up to your ankles. Did you hear me? Just up to your ankles.” How come we are at the beach without togs? I’m sure I made a family rule about this.

The next attempt to cast out over the beach break was pretty unsuccessful. The tackle just made the water and 10 metres of fishing line had neatly arranged itself into a knot that Gordian would be proud of. 

“How are things?” The beach might be secluded but not too far from SMS. I text back: “Wet!” I decided to sit and watch the sea and the kids gambolling in the shallows up to their waists. Kids have an attraction for water. It would be defying nature to expect them to paddle up to their ankles.

Next time we go fishing I’ll be more efficient.

  • I’ll put the tide book in the recycling bag
  • I’ll buy frozen bait.
  • I’ll stand at the boot of the car and jam a couple of fish hooks into my skin
  • I’ll slash myself with the bait knife
  • I’ll roll some fishing line into a ball and put it straight into the rubbish bag
  • I’ll leave the rod in the car
  • As soon as I get to the sea, I’ll empty the bait into the water
  • I’ll then sit and watch the clouds, the gulls, the spray and the kids.
  • I’ll dig my toes in the sand, shiver and breath the salty wind
  • On the way home we’ll buy fish and chips at the Greek’s

Yeah, that’s better.

Yeah, that's better.


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