What to do when drought strikes
  |  First Published: December 2007

I’m having a bit of a bad spell in the boat at the moment. Actually, that’s probably being a little kind, like saying man-boobs is a little on the heavy side. Or Pommers likes the odd beer. And while we’re on that subject, if Pommers likes the odd beer, does that mean Pommers doesn’t like even beers? Like he only enjoys his first, third and fifth beers? Or in Pommers case, the seventh, ninth, eleventh, thirteenth, fifteenth and seventeenth beer as well? And that those even beers – the second, fourth, sixth, eighth, tenth, twelfth, fourteenth and sixteenth – are really only taken in so he can get to the odd beer? Strange.

Anyway, where was I? Bad times. Right. There was a time last year when I thought the monkey was well and truly off my back. I caught something. About August I think it was. Well, the monkey has returned. Big time, and now that bloody thing is crawling around the boat as well, and getting into the water and scaring off all the fish, as well as stealing all the legal muddies out of my pots.

This isn’t a bit of a dry spell either. I am in a severe drought. I haven’t caught a barra at Awoonga in three trips. I haven’t caught a decent bream all winter. I haven’t even been able to land a winter whiting. The muddies are either being lost to share farmers or crawling out of the pots – if they were ever in there.

I’m not sure if a change of tactics is called for. The trouble with changing tactics is that you have to try new things. And trying new things means that you don’t do the old things anymore. Quite frankly, I do the old things because it means I have less chance of breaking, smashing, losing or busting my gear. Which happens when I do new things.

When I go out in my familiar ground, I know what gutters have got old shopping trolleys in them, I know where the old crab pots are resting, and I know where the logs rest at low tide. It has cost me six or eight cast nets to learn that. Throwing blind into new gutters is a recipe for disaster.

Same with tackle. You know where the snags are in your own territory. You know where the really big stingrays sit so you don’t hook onto them. You know where the branches are that break your rod when you’re trying to cast into that lovely looking submerged log.

And I know I don’t have to go into the dangers of taking your outboard into new territory. I know where are all the rocks are at the moment. OK except for that one last weekend but that doesn’t count. How was I to know that someone had shifted the darn thing?

So, in reality, there’s a lot to think about before you just commit yourself to fixing a problem with poor fish returns. I’d appreciate it if someone turned up on the Inventors with a machine that tells you what sort of a fishing trip you’re going to have in advance. That way you could avoid the trips that are going to be shockers and really enjoy the ones that are going to be good ones.

On second thoughts, perhaps not, as it would probably mean I wouldn’t have gone fishing at all this year. And even if I’m not catching, I still enjoy the trip. Luckily.

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