No luck for the Irish
  |  First Published: October 2010

It’s sad to see a man deteriorate from a hope-filled, talkative, beer swilling optimist to a snivelling, cursing, swearing, muttering wretch over the cause of just a few hours. But that’s what Awoonga can do to you.

And that’s what happen to Paddy a couple of months ago. The Dudds are still laughing about it. Maybe laughing isn’t the right word. Maybe cackling is closer to the truth. You see, we’ve been there, we’ve done that. We’ve been broken by this cursed dam and it’s so good to see someone else go through it too.

Pommers and Stuffer tell the story every time we get together. Even though it’s only been a couple of months since his descent into hell, we’ve heard their story 14 or 15 times. And we’ve only got together once.

It’s all started on a late spring trip to Awoonga. It was a bit cold and starting to close down. Don’t read those smarty-pants who sprout in various glossy magazines about how easy it is to catch ‘winter barra’ – It’s crap. Once the temperature goes under 40ºC you’ve got more chance of cutting Peter Garrett’s hair than catching a barra on Awoonga. It just doesn’t happen. That’s it.

The Dudds know that so there’s no point in getting excited about going. Even in January when you can cook eggs on the top of your bimini (at midnight) you’re still only a one in ten gazillion chance of even getting a hit, let alone actually getting a scale into the boat.

So why do we go when it’s cooler?

Well on this particular occasion, we were going more as a favour for Boobs, who was taking his old man. Leon wasn’t too fussed about catching anything. I’m sure spending a weekend with his son and his five Dudd mates was enough for him…(pensive pause)…Hang on, maybe when I think about it he really WAS interested in catching something. Oh well, too late to think about that now. Suffice to say the Dudds weren’t interested in hooking onto a barra. Don’t get me wrong; we’d take one if we managed to hook up. But we were experienced enough to know that wasn’t going to happen.

Not Paddy though. Poor Paddy. Stuffer and Pommers got on the road about 7am and Paddy had already left five messages. His words were running together, and he was bouncing into the roof of the twin cab with excitement. His new little Quinnie hooked up on the back, his rods ready and trebles silver sharp – The poor blighter was rarin’ to go.

By the time they got to Miles he was on the water. By Wandoan he’d started to quieten down. By Taroom he was starting to swear. That’s when they really started to giggle, and rang Boobs and I to let us know. We were at about Childers at that stage. We all giggled together.

By the time Stuffer and Pommers got to Theodore we had a hard time understanding them they were laughing so hard. It made us laugh to listen to them, and it made us laugh to think about how long and hard we’d be laughing about this over the years to come.

By the time we reached Benaraby they couldn’t get Paddy. Eventually we found him hunched over his new 50hp four-stroke like Gollum, muttering “My Precious” to his Stiffy. And his other lures.

It made us appreciate Paddy. He’s given us so much to laugh at. And that was even before we found out he was so keen to get started he’d unhooked his boat at the top of the ramp and it bounced off the trailer as he was backing down and scraped about 4L of paint off his skeg and the keel.

The clincher though, as Pommers pointed out, was that Paddy accidentally admitted there had been no-one else on the ramp or the dam at the time. Paddy didn’t have to tell anyone about his stuff up. But he had. Very proudly.

All in all, not a good weekend for Paddy. But he continued on with the work of chuckin’ stuff, drinking beer and laughing. Makes you question his mental abilities though doesn’t it? And with such a pedigree, he’s obviously being seriously considered as the seventh Dudd.

“Precious… my precious!”

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