Getting older, not wiser
  |  First Published: December 2013

There is no question at all that age might bring wisdom, at least in some cases, but it brings plenty of other things as well. Like bad eyesight, hairy ears and a reluctance to do the tough things in life. The tough things that you used to do without even thinking, that now almost kill you to even attempt.

Take this week. Please, take it. I’d rather forget it that’s for sure. I’ve come up to Central Queensland to do some work, and at the same time I’m doing a bit of fishing. Or, to look at it another way, I’m in Central Queensland to fish, and at the same time I’m doing a little bit of work.

So it’s the usual story. I’m going to borrow Stuffer’s boat, but it’s too far away to pick it up, that is unless you count going to Brisbane through Roma as a shortcut to Happy Rock. Manboobs knows me too well to lend me his boat, and Skipper won’t even think about lending me his. Big useless, fat bottomed punt. The boat’s pretty ordinary too.

Anyway, Skipper says he has got his old boat in the shed, and I tell him I’ll pay for a service if I can borrow it. Fine he says. With good reason too I might add. As I discover, when he says it’s in the shed, what he means is it’s near the shed, on blocks, with the bungs still in and an old tarp over it that wouldn’t keep a duck dry. But anyway, what choice do I have?

So I turn up at old mate’s to pick up the beast on my way up north, and the outboard’s in pieces. Just putting it back together, old mate says, give me an hour. In an hour I come back and the motor, which is so old Captain Cook might have had it on the back of one of his tinnies, is in more pieces than something that’s in a whole lot of pieces. It turns out that old mate has got the welder in to fix it, which the welder has tried to do, but he’s ground it down too much, so the problem is the same as it was, or worse.

Get the welder back then, I say. Can’t, says old mate, he went prawning four hours ago. Which would be fine, except that it’s still only two in the afternoon, so the welder is either a plumber, or he grows funny herbs to make a living. So Skipper’s boat is out. So I have no boat at all.

But as it turns out, I do. The place I’m working at has an old tinny that they offer me. And when I say old, I mean this one might have been on the tender for Noah’s boat. Except he probably got sick of it cutting out so he got one of the new one-stroke models that were just released by Israel Marine.

So this tinny has got none of the finer things that I’ve come to expect from the Dudd boats. It’s like the sort of boat we had when we were starting out. Gradually, as you get older and wiser, you spend a little more on your boats so you can fish in something approaching comfort. Well, this piece of equipment is not comfortable – I find that out after my first trip. Not that it’s the tinny’s fault. I have fished the area before, but have forgotten where the sandbanks are, and how low the tide gets, and how long you have to stay up in sandfly and mosquito infected creeks to get back out, and how hard it is to lift a tinny over a sandbank, and lift a motor without an electric trim and tilt from out of sticky river mud. And how quickly depth can change when you’re pulling a tinny along a creek you thought was shallow. And how many stingrays scare the crap out of you. Also how hard it can be to find your way back to the boat ramp when you do get out of the creek with a thunderstorm up your date. And as for loading it onto the trailer…

And that’s fine when you’re a young fella. But now, at my age, it’s just not something you want to do too much of. I felt like I’ve just played a game of footy with a team made up entirely of Greg Inglis clones. With no high shot rules. Completely knackered ten days after.

But I suppose on the bright side, it’s given me a new appreciation for the comfort provided by the Dudds' flash rigs. Now all I need is to work out how to get them to trust me enough to let me borrow one. With my history, I think that’s a long shot. Won’t stop me trying though. Have I mentioned to you how much I respect Skipper and Boobs and what great blokes they are? How beautiful their children are; Frenzy and Nutter? What good fishermen they are and how knowledgeable about all things boating they are? And… ah bugger it. It’s too hard. I’ll fish off the bank.

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