Monday, December 1, 2008


"Ya wanna' go fishin' tonight Yorky?, said Arthur on our way home from the paddock, one evening.

"Yeah, I'd love to Arthur but I haven't got a rod or a reel." I said.

"Ya don't need a rod for what I've got in mind mate." said Arthur.

"Then how are we gonn' catch fish?" I said.

"I'll show ya when we git home." said Arthur.

We parked the Ute in the yard and Arthur said, "Have a look in that shed over there Yorky and you'll find a large sack behind the door. Fetch it over here will ya,  it's not very heavy."

The sack was right where he said so I picked it up and took it over to where he was chopping a few logs for the evenings' fire.

"Good on ya' Yorky. I'll just split this big log and then we'll go down to the lakeside." said Arthur.

When we were at the waters' edge, Arthur said, "There's a small tin rowing boat under that clump of overhanging trees, float it down here Yorky."

The tin boat was only about 10 feet and had a metal bench seat at each end.

"Climb in mate and we'll row out a-ways." said Arthur.

Arthurs' property was a very beautiful place. The back part of his yard gently sloped down through the trees to the waters edge. There was always lots of bird life to be seen around dusk. Ducks, Shags, Cormerants and even Black Swans used to use the Lake as their home and there was always an abundant supply of catfish, small cod and plenty of Turtles.

"Row out towards that stump sticking out a' the water Yorky.", said Arthur, who was sat up front undoing the old sack.

When he opened the top of the sack, I could see why we didn't need any fishing rods.
Arthur was very carefully pulling out a few handfuls of Gill net and getting it ready to tie on to the long, grey dead tree stump which was about another 20 yards away.

When I maneuvered the boat into position, Arthur said, "Good on ya' Yorky. I'll tie the rope onto the stump here and you row very slowly towards that dead tree sticking out of the water over there."

"No worries Arthur. Here we go mate!" I said.

As I rowed at a slow pace, Arthur let out handfuls of the net, shaking it out as he went. It took a while to let the net fully out, which was about 50 feet long but eventually we had it tied off to a dead, sun-dried silvery tree.

"That's it Yorky. We should get at least a couple of tasty Catfish out of that." said Arthur.

"How long will it take to catch a fish?", I said.

"Oh, we'll check it out in the morning mate. It'll give it a chance to fill up." said Arthur.

The following morning Arthur and I were up a half hour earlier so we could check the net.

"Row us out Yorky and let's see how we've done mate.", he said as we got into the tin tub which had been left tied to a stump at the bank.

It was a beautiful morning to be out on the Lake. The Shags and the Cormerants were already diving for their breakfasts and the birds were singing an tweeting in the trees around the lakeside. A Kookaburra was having a good old laugh to himself as we rowed over to the dead log.

"Alright Yorky, that'll do mate. I'll lift the net from here and sort of pull the boat along as we go. You try to make sure we don't drift over the top of the net so we don't catch it on the boat." said Arthur.

Arthur very carefully lifted the net out of the water in sections. It wasn't long before a good-sized catfish appeared out of the water.

"Shit Arthur, how ya gonna' git him out of the net. It's all tangled up mate?" I said.

"Yeah, that's one of the downsides to using nets. Once I find where he got into it, I'll soon have him out." said Arthur.

It took Arthur about 5 minutes to untangle the net and the catfish hit the bottom of the boat with a good 'thump' and then proceeded to flop around for a while.

"How big d'ya think he is?" I said.

"Oh, he's probably somewhere around 3 pounds." said Arthur.

I could see why they were catfish when I saw the long whiskers that stuck out from his face.

"What a bastard!", said Arthur as he pulled on the gill net.

"What's the matter mate?", I said, as I leaned over in the boat.

"We've got a turtle caught up in it and he's made a right bloody mess of the net." said Arthur.

The turtle was moving all over the place as Arthur pulled the section of net into the boat. He spent a good 10 minutes trying to untangle the long-necked turtle, but the more Arthur untangled him the more he moved his legs around and re-tangled himself.

"Grand streuth! I didn't want to do this but there's only one way to get him out of the tangle now." said Arthur.

Arthur put his hand to his belt and pulled out the pocketknife from the small leather case he kept it in. He opened the main blade, which he kept good and sharp because he used that knife for everything.

"Ya gonna' have to cut the net so ya can git him out Arthur?" I said.

"Not on ya life mate.", he said, as he cut the turtles head off with one sharp thrust. He held the turtle over the side of the boat so it didn't mess the boat up with blood.

This gave me quite a shock as I didn't expect it.

"Only way to git 'em out when they get so tangled up." said Arthur.

"How come there's so many turtles dead on the roads if they live in water?" I asked.

"They travel across land once their usual water hole dries up. They've been known to travel 40 or 50 miles to get to a new water hole." said Arthur.

"How do they know which direction to travel in?" I asked.

"They've got a good sense of smell Yorky. They can smell water when it's miles away." said Arthur.

That morning we got 3 good-sized catfish out of the net and that evening Arthurs wife cooked 'em up for dinner. A sprinkling of salt and pepper and a fresh lemon out of Arthurs' orchard made for a good meal.

After dinner, I sometimes watched an hour or so of TV in Arthurs' large main room but that evening Arthurs wife was really wound up tight. Everyone was sitting around with their feet up on a large foot stool when she singled me out and said,
"Get your feet off of my furniture! Where do you think you are, at home?"

"Oh no.", I said. "My mistake Mrs. Auberry. I saw everyone else had their feet up so I just followed."

I left the house about 5 minutes after that episode and went back over to my room. About 10 minutes later Arthur knocked on the door and came in.

"Ya alright Yorky?" said Arthur.

"Yeah, I'm alright. I didn't mean to offend your wife." I said.

"That's alright mate. It's not your fault. She has a few problems which make her uptight most of the time so she's on medication and when she gets low on the medicine she tends to get pretty cranky for no good reason. Don't take it personal mate." said Arthur.

"All right Arthur, as long as I'm aware of that I'll be careful around her." I said.

"Anyway mate, it's good for me that ya here 'cause if not, she'd have gotten cranky with me mate!" Arthur said with a grin.