It’s not easy when you’re being outfished by your sons. It’s bad enough for me as mine are late teens and early twenties. Not so easy for Stuffer, his are five and two years old. And they’re leaving him for dead catching the yellowbelly out of the corner hole.
Nothing Stuffer does seems to get him a fish. He saves the good bait for himself, he gives the kids the rubbish rods with eyelets missing and rusty reels, and the line was even cheap rubbish when he bought it in 1985.
He throws their lines into the middle of the creek and his onto the best looking snaggy country, just under the rivergum underneath the old fence line. Meanwhile, Jacky and Fin are happily throwing rocks at tin cans, wallabies and the old chimney. Then they're having swordfights, finding bull ants, climbing trees and shaking branches with itchy grubs in them.
Stuffer is hunched down beside his rod, waiting for the slightest tremor in the end of his Ian Miller barra special with Platyl low stretch on a Shimano Calcutta 200D, which is worth more than the property he’s running.
Eventually Fin gets tired of hanging Jacky on the top barb of the old fence and wanders down to see what’s happening near the water. Knowing from bitter experience that throwing stuff into the water near Dad causes high decibel warnings like Will Robinson’s robot, he grabs a few doolies off the bank and pegs them around the spot where Stuffer has thrown their lines.
Fin’s rod is still sitting out in the middle, but Jacky’s has wandered in to sit about half a rod length from the muddy bank. It’s possible Stuffer wound it in when no one was watching. Jack stumbles down beside Fin and for several seconds, the perpetual motion stops as the tip of Jacky’s rod shudders and then bends.
Despite himself, Stuffer can’t ignore the rod. As slowly as he can bear, he walks across to Jacky’s rod and passes it over to Jacky.
Now Jack has been bitten by the fishing bug. This is something that begins early, and is not something that can be taught, or learnt. It basically infects you, and Jacky has a bad case. He still can’t talk, but he knows what an “ish” is, and he knows how to wind the handle to get the fish in.
So he proceeds to do just that, while Stuffer grinds his teeth and tells Jack to let the line go slack, pull the rod as hard as he can, wind the reel slowly then fast, put the tip of the rod in the lower tree branches.
Jack does as his Dad tells him. And still manages to pull in a nice little yella just before Fin gets into the action. By now Fin, at five years of age, knows his father is a Dudd and that ignoring him or doing exactly the opposite of what his father says, is the best option. So he gets a good yellowbelly to the bank too. Stuffer is proud but frustrated.
He tells me about it. I ignore him. Although mine are older now, I have nasty memories of my kids proving me a Dudd, for example catching mangrove jack before me (on whiting rods), and getting more prawns in a single cast than I could get over nine hours of swinging a 12ft net.
I know it’s my duty to make Stuffer feel better, having been through this already.
“What do you expect to happen,” I say when he pauses for a breath. “Of course your kids are going to be better than you. Mine were hopeless so I never had your problem, but you are an absolute Dudd, so it’s no surprise.”
Stuffer throws me a dirty look. I catch it, and send it the way of my kids, who are sniggering to themselves as they listen to the two Dudds discussing issues. They cast knowing looks at one another. Just like they used to cast their lines into the best fishing spots that I pointed out to them. At least, that’s my story.Reads: 1066