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 Category:  General Non-Fiction
  Posted: May 27, 2020      Views: 48

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Aussie is a wheel - chair person with a passion for poems and short stories about Australia. She likes to express herself through both mediums. She is an an artist who likes to paint in all mediums. Writing has become an outlet for her as she is ext - more...

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Our day on the water, fun and not fun.
"Gone Fishin'" by Aussie

The pale yellow sun lit the quietly flowing river that was snaking its way to the sea. Sussex Inlet was our annual holiday place for fishing and generally relaxing away from the big smoke. My mum hated fishing, still..she cooked and ate our catches. Most of the ladies stayed in the campsite and played cards; they talked the leg off an iron-pot and back on again! My aunts and grandmother were great cooks, they loved to see the catch we brought home from our day on the river.

1969: I was newly married and my handsome husband and my dad were about to lock horns (dad hadn't accepted the loss of his favorite daughter.) I could feel the tension between them. Daddy's best girl caught in the middle. As the sun rose that morning, the three of us made our way down the rickety -planks that led us to our 'marine transport' for the day. We had hired a small fishing boat for the week's holiday at our favorite place. I loved the peace and tranquility of the river's ebb and flow, the seagulls circling our boat looking for left-over bait and the sparkle of the sun kissing the waves.

Sussex Inlet is a wide body of water that leads into Jervis Bay, New South Wales. The Naval college was situated nearby where budding sailors practised their skills. The Inlet was protected from the roaring Pacific Ocean. It was a wonderful hiding place for fingerlings, prawns and smaller fish before they headed for the open sea.

The bright summer sun rose, with it the heat to come. Summer in Australia can be daunting for folks who are not familiar with our climate. It was normal to be on the water before six in the morning and back in by midday. Far, far too hot to be sunburnt by the water's reflection and around midday, the fish went off the bite.

My husband helped me down from the wharf into the gently rocking boat. Dad literally threw the fishing gear into the fokesall. Yep, it was going to be a contest of wills with me trying to sort the boys out.

Back in the good old days, you had to hand-pull an inboard motor by winding a rawhide strap around the pulley- wheel that would spark the motor. Cec, being the youngest male took on the task with gusto, only to have daddy-dearest tell him, "you're pulling it the wrong way mate." Red-faced Cec pulled the opposite way and lo, and behold the inboard roared into life. Er...well it started to cough and splutter then a steady beat.

"Don't forget to cast off son."

We putt-putted away from the shore and headed upriver to our fishing grounds. I sat in the bow with the wind blowing my long, blonde hair. This was life, this was living. Gulls followed in our wake until we met the bend in the river and had to navigate the sand-bars. The gulls left our company, I never did like this part of the journey, something ominous about this side of the river.

Listening to the throb of the motor and warmed by the morning sun, I was almost lulled to sleep. Then I saw a pelican standing in the middle of the river, he was stretching his huge wings out to dry.

"Dad? How come that pelican is standing...thump!"

"Struth! Now we've run aground. You'll have to get out and push, Cec." Dad was smiling, I was giggling and Cec, well, he jumped in the water up to his armpits and finally pushed the dingy off the sandbar. There was much huffing and puffing on his part. He climbed back onboard and was soaked from head to foot. The day had just begun.

After that hiccup, I stood lookout in the bow, dad, still giving directions, Cec at the rudder.
We were running against an incoming tide and the dinghy was really swaying across the currents, slow progress was made getting to our fishing spot, it was called The Basin.

Finally, we broke through the miniature rapids into The Basin. A sigh of relief was heard by all.
Three nylon lines thrown over the side, hopeful that hungry fishes would take our green, prawn- bait. Gently rocking with the current we were all nodding off, we had rolled out of bed at 4.30 am.

Cec was a good fisherman in his own neck of the woods. I was proud of him for not retaliating when dad had a dig at him, trying to bait him didn't work. I felt like the ham in the sandwich.

Suddenly, the reels spun at breakneck speed! Every fishing line had a fish on. We heaved and set another bait, heaved and baited again until our backs were breaking from the effort. We must have hit a deep hole where the fish were hiding. After an hour, they stopped biting and we were covered with shiny, slimy, flapping fish. Jackpot!

Over the rollocks were hung two hessian bags. We filled each bag with fish and decided to stay awhile on another spot. The hessian bags allow the saltwater to flow through, thus keeping our fish fresh and out of the sun.
We heard the roar of twin-motors skimming the waves, heading our way. My brother-in-law owned a big pleasure cruiser that could cope with deep-sea fishing.

His family were also on holiday with our family. I thought he was a rich, spoilt show-off that couldn't catch a cold, let alone a fish! My sister must have thought him the ants-pants, she married him for better or worse. No votes from me.

Harry's boat idled, away from our little dingy. So glad he had the sense not to wash us overboard.

"Ahoy there family!" Harry shouted down to us. I wasn't intimidated by Wave Runner's size.
We all shaded our eyes and waved back.

"Catch anything yet? We've been out for hours, nothing?" He was sipping on his scotch. My big sister stuck her head out and waved to dad and Cec. Then she stuck her tongue out at me. I looked up to her but she thought I was a pest...sibling rivalry.

"We found a shoal of Taylor the minute the lines hit the water. Now, we have too many fish in gunny bags hanging on the rollocks." Dad grinned with pride.

"Great stuff, do you want to come aboard?" Harry dropped the swimming - deck at the back of Wave Runner

"No, we are heading back to clean these fish. Oh, how about I give you a sack, we've got too many?" Dad grinned.

Cec took one gunny sack off the left rollock ready to pass to Harry. The water was fairly smooth and we just let our little boat drift towards Wave Runner.

"Ready Harry? Cec had hold of around sixty-pounds of fish.
"Yep, hand it over mate."

What happened next was funny, but not funny. The old hessian gunny sack split open as Cec lifted it across the water to give to Harry. Harry was gobsmacked as the sea opened its arms to receive her dead!

My sister started laughing and I did too. Dad was mortified, Cec just couldn't believe all that hard work catching fish had just disappeared.

And so, sunburnt and with one bag left, we motored our way back to Sussex Inlet. This time we had the tide at our backs. The other bag of fish sat at our feet.
When we reached the Inlet, and calm water near to our holiday house, I saw many gulls circling and this meant fish!

"Dad, can we throw a line in here before we head home?"
"Blimey, you're keen kid. Why not, one last cast."

The line spun and arced across the water. I was so upset to see a seagull had snatched the bait and was caught on the end of my hook!

"Cut the line." Cec shouted.

Gently, ever so gently, dad waited until the seagull stopped struggling on top of the water. He then pulled the line slowly towards our boat. A lot of squeaking and squawking, desperate flapping of wings as dad lifted the bird to remove the hook from its beak. My dad loved animals and this was one lucky bird.

Majestically the bird lifted off the water and flew sky-high. I was so happy for his release.
What a day we had. Fun and not fun, at least we brought home the fish for mum to cook.

True Story Contest contest entry

Author Notes
Contest Entry for True Story: Australian English and grammar, plus my sense of humor thrown in. Enjoy the ride!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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