The tide of change
  |  First Published: September 2013

I have real respect for those fishos of longer teeth, or no teeth at all, that I see heading out into the bay/river/creek/ocean at quarter past stupid o'clock of a winter's morning.

Actually make that any morning. In my opinion, anyone of advanced years who still has the passion to chase scales, prawn or crab despite being uncomfortable in the extreme deserves to catch fish everytime they head out.

You see I've noticed that the Dudds are putting a bit of age on, and I can see how difficult we can sometimes find it to get up and about early in the morning, especially when Pommers has been in the camp 'smashing cans' – we tend to keep gentleman's hours when Pommers is around. Of course, it doesn't follow that we are gentlemen just because we keep their hours. If they're silly enough to give us their hours in the first place they shouldn’t be surprised if we keep them.

But often you'll see old-old mate chugging out to his favourite flathead spot in his 12ft tinny with a jonno 6 on the back, faded and torn cable knit jumper peeping out from behind an ex army coat, and a Broncos beanie that would have been old when Willy Carne scored his last four pointer. Or old-old mate who sits underneath the Maroochy bridge patiently waiting for a jack to bust up his lines. Or he's up at Tuan or Tin Can or Toogoom picking up winteries with the yabbies he's stored in the freezer from the warmer months when the sun spent longer overhead.

You have to respect these older people. They've put the hard yards in, and despite things getting tougher physically as you get older, these aging warriors are still keen enough to get out and about seeking that big trophy fish, or sometimes, just that tasty reefie.

I can't say that I'll be that way; perhaps that's why I admire them so much. Fishing to me has always been more of a sickness – more an intrusive compulsion than a hobby. Like many others that spend all their time in a boat or on a beach, it's not about going down for a short fish for recreation, it's much more personal than that. It's possibly a bit like the problem gamblers must try to overcome. I have up to recent times had little choice about looking to find what is under the water. The mystery of the ocean or river bottom has always called strongly.

As I mentioned recently in this magazine, that is changing in recent months. Life is wearing me down. That's a scary thing to face up to, because if I haven't got that to wish for, and dream about, what do I have? What is it that I want to aim towards if it's not a 6m reef boat with enough cash for fuel? What is there ahead if I don't want that houseboat holiday where you can step from your bedroom into your tinny and a 5 minute zoom into a mangrove-lined creek? What if I don't want to go fishing with Boobs, Doughers, Stuffer, Skipper and Pommers any more? What if I prefer to stay home?

It's a tough thing, growing older. But as they say, the alternative to growing older is not all that attractive. And now I think about it, it's not all bad news. My wife has always complained that the kids wouldn’t go fishing with me because I always stayed out too long. She's right. So perhaps on the bright side, with a loss of interest and the desire to catch that next arm stretcher growing less and less, maybe I’ll be a better fishing grandad than a fishing father. Here's hoping. But first I suppose I have to organise to get some grandkids on the ground. Yep. Grandkids. Imagine that. Now that's really something to look forward to!

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