My much-loved grandfather, Des Meggitt, passed away recently and he was one of the most influential figures in my life, especially in the field of fishing. He had an endless supply of patience and good humour, which he desperately needed when venturing out with me on my first fishing foray. In this month’s article I would like to share some of the memories and lessons I have learned from him over the years.
Three words evoke many memories from my early childhood fishing trips with my grandfather: Cabbage Tree Creek. Fishing Cabbage Tree in the early hours of the morning, chasing flathead and whiting around the shallows was almost a daily activity. My grandfather would fish with an old wooden Alvey that worked almost as well as when he first bought it, and I had a little spin outfit. This was where I learned a lot of my basic fishing skills, whether it was making up different rigs to chase certain types of fish, learning to throw a cast net, or how to scale and fillet a fish.
The Wellington Point Jetty was also another location that brings back a lot of memories. It’s where I caught my first flathead. When of fishing off the jetty once, Pop looked away for a few seconds and hooked a cormorant that was bobbing on the water! Not exactly the species we were chasing!
Only a few years ago, our family was on a fishing trip in the Hervey Bay region, where we were greeted by an onslaught of sandflies and mozzies. One particular morning we woke up to find that during the night we had been the main course for an army of bities. After a quick inspection of the camp Pop was nowhere to be found so we walked to the bank only to find he had caught a swag of fish, and the mozzies and sandflies hadn’t touched him. Pop made the best of every situation, and was never one to whinge when work was required. He was always positive and took everything in his good-natured and humorous stride.
My grandfather is responsible for my infatuation with fishing and boating. Pop taught me everything from rigs to techniques on landing fish. His stories about the ‘old days’ of fishing would conjure up images of bream and whiting in excess of 35cm being the norm, anything under was a throw back as he liked to call it. Fishing in Moreton Bay often resulted in a bycatch of bugs, which were scorned and promptly thrown back. I believe that fishing with my grandfather has given me a better understanding and appreciation of fishing and the whole culture behind it. In that only taking home what you will eat and use, rather than braining vast quantities of fish that will only go rotten, or sit in the freezer for umpteen months.
Des Meggitt remains an outstanding example of the quintessential father, grandfather and friend. He was a true gentleman and a decent human being, something in which the world seems to be in short supply. He will be sorely missed by family and friends but never forgotten. Pop was a humble man and I think he would be happy knowing that he got a mention in a fishing magazine. Goodbye for now Pop, you’ll be a hard act to follow!Reads: 943