Fishing Taboos
  |  First Published: September 2009

Couple of blokes out west had just been on a charter and, as happens on those trips, had cleaned up big time. They had more scales than a weightwatchers convention and were wondering how in Wally’s name they were going to store them all.

Stuffer, was quietly stewing in the corner while Old Mate told everyone how many fish they’d caught on their trip. Old Mate turns to Stuffer.

“Stuffer,” he says, “you go fishing a lot. What do you do when you catch a heap of fish? Where do you store all those fillets?”

Complete silence falls across the crowd.

All heads turn to Stuffer.

How will he take it? Doesn’t Old Mate know there are some things you just don’t talk about at barbies with any of the Dudds? Where has he been? What rock has he been living under?

Stuffer sinks his beer and walks away. The crunch of his size 13’s across the gravel bounces through the night air. Old Mate’s wife catches his eye, staring daggers at him.

He holds his hands up, shrugging, silently asking ‘what did I do this time?’

Later someone will take him aside and fill him in on how close he came to being battered to death by the 15ft ironbark sleeper that Stuffer had been sitting on. Tell him you don’t talk about catch rates around any of the Dudds.

Let him know there are isolated spots out in the Yuleba scrub where no one goes late at night for fear of meeting the ghosts of buried fishermen wandering across the wasted moonstruck landscape. Fishermen who’d made the mistake of asking one of the Dudds about their catch rates. Maybe even laughed.

Old Mate goes pale under his farmers tan and feels the breath of eternity fan across his cheek.

But despite being a little bit on the sensitive side about how well we do, the Dudds are proud of one thing – we use our own knowledge to catch our own fish. In over ten years of trips, we’ve only used one guide.

Jason up at Awoonga took Stuffer and Manboobs out to give us some new ideas. Funnily enough neither of them caught a scale despite calling on the skills of one of the country’s best anglers.

Even stranger was that over the next three days none of us caught anything using the techniques he’d taught Stuffer and Boobs. Go figure.

But the use of guides is a sensitive issue to many fishos. You go out with someone who puts you on the spot, and you proceed to catch your share. Fair enough of course, but after everyone’s had their share, an awful lot of fish are being taken off our reefs.

Maybe to protect the future of the reef, the Dudds need to be appointed overseers of GBR fishing guides. That would certainly cut the catch rate down, and give a few more years to the fishery.

Which is fine. We’re quite willing to hand over all our expertise to any one that wants to learn new techniques. Just don’t ask us about our catch rates, ok?

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