A Day in the Life of Real Fishermen
  |  First Published: March 2011

You know you’re mixed up with real fishermen when you’re told in the car at 5am that they know the car can pull the boat to the ramp 100k’s from home, but they’re not sure whether it can get the boat back home afterwards… and no one cares.

There’s something comforting in being surrounded by other people who have their priorities in such well oiled working order. In fact, the reason I may have felt so at home with this particular group was that their attitude at this point was very close to the Dudds’ motto: comparo crastinus (we’ll sort it out later).

We were zooming up towards the Sunny Coast at this stage at five in the morning, pulling a 6.5m tinnie behind the diesel Prado. Every few hundred metres the engine would surge into higher revs; similar really to the sound your outboard makes when it hits a sandbank. For a second I thought I was back on the Burrum.

Anyway, Mr T comes out with some comment about the clutch on Tim the Teacher’s fourbee slipping. Now I know Michael Clark and Ricky Ponting have been accused of slipping in recent online forums, but I’m not sure why he thought the clutch was not as good as it used to be. Anyway at about that time a burning smell began to overpower the aroma of coffee we’d just picked up from the servo.

Dr Dan apologised and went on to say that as long as we got to the ramp he was happy. Getting the boat and vehicle back to Brissie was Tim the Teacher’s problem. Comparo Crastinus. I liked his thinking. But this is where the comparisons between this mob and the Dudds began to widen.

For a start we got to the ramp without a problemmo, and the boat went off the trailer without a hitch. The motor kicked over (Skipper) the sounder turned on, (Manboobs,) the GPS clicked in (Stuffer). No one fell out of the boat in the short trip out of the river, (Pommers and Doughers,) a quick check of the boat showed nothing had been left behind (Jimmy) and the cruise out to the reef was uneventful. It could possibly even be described as boring.

Reels were all working (Skipper again) and no one had stood on any rod tips (Jimmy and Doughers again) before we dropped for our first drift over a likely looking spot. The bait was still frozen and fresh (Stuffer) and in the boat (Pomers again).

The drift anchor went out without tangling around the prop, which hadn’t been left slightly in gear (Skipper, Jimmy, Stuffer, Doughers, Boobs and Pommers). The lead was heavy enough to get to the bottom… I began to get nervous. I was completely unprepared for fishing under such circumstances.

Then we were on. At least the boys on the other side were on. A few fish were being pulled up. My anxiety increased… this wasn’t fishing. I’m not sure what the hell it was, but it wasn’t fishing. It was more like… maybe pulling fish up on fishing lines and putting them in an esky.

Then, at last, it happened. Tim the Teacher hit the deck. A buck’s party two nights ago left him queasy. Dr Dan fell next, victim to four hours sleep in two days due to emergency night duty. This was more like it.

I hit my straps then. I left a little iodine bream on one hook while I waited for something bigger to take the other on the paternoster. It decided to swim approximately seven hundred times around Mr T’s line. We pulled up and cut off.

In the hour that it took me to do that, Dr Dan got his second wind. Dr Dan apologised then dropped a no. 12 sinker down. Within two minutes a little Moses I’d left on my line while I waited for a bigger fish to attack my second hook decided to play macramé with Dr Dan’s line. It came up looking like the Story Bridge after Riverfire.

But we soon had that sorted in much less than two hours and dropped back down by which time Tim the Teacher was up and raring to go. At this point the little parrot that I’d left on my first hook while waiting for my second hook to get bitten, got it into his head to build a complex structure with Tim the Teacher’s line. It came up looking like the Story Bridge after Riverfire and a ticker tape parade.

I relaxed. This was more like it. This wasn’t like that thing they’d been doing earlier in the day, whatever they called it. This was fishing. But the three others in the boat didn’t look so calm. If I could read people’s faces I would suggest they were alarmed.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said as I busted off another snag on the reefy bottom, “Comparo crastinus.”

I don’t think they understood.

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