Sunday, Mt Coot-tha Lookout.
Sherwood Arboretum (ii)
Patience, Redcliffe (from the archive)
Boris was hooking up a bloodworm he dug from the beach around the point. Years ago it would take half an hour’s digging to get enough worms for a few day’s fishing. In an hour and a half yesterday, he found just a handful of worms. But after having had a bad back for 40 years, he said he’s happy he has the strength to dig at all. It turns out this almost 80 year old is on an exercise kick since his back came good, but that’s another story. The worms were writhing, sandy and the perfect size for the hook.
He kindly let me use one of his trusty rods; the one with the handsome bakelite, Alvey reel. It was the first reel Boris bought when he came to Australia from Europe in 1951. He said you used to be able to tell when fishermen on the beach were from down south because they’d have those ‘egg-beater’ reels while Queenslanders would always use Alveys.
Both rod and line were finer and more sensitive than anything I’d used before. After an hour or so in the sun I started getting it, the idea that fishing is a kind of dance. I fancied I could sense even slight nibbles at the end of my line, that I could toy with a creature out there and bring it in. It turned out, I couldn’t. I was basically just feeding Boris’ hard-won worms to the fish, one after another, until his green bait box was empty.
I don’t have the patience to fish well. Boris told me to wait ‘til the fish was ‘right on’. He managed to land a fish with the bait in its mouth, intact; that’s how good he is. The first few nibbles are just an expression of interest, he said, you have to wait.
He knows these things because he ran a prawn trawler in the bay for 35 years, working nights and sleeping during the day. He’s been fishing these waters for that long too. Now he walks out along the sandbar in waders to catch his dinner a few times a week. The sandbar is up to 5m wide in places. It’s like a road, he said.
Boris talked a little about the changes to Redcliffe. The reclaimed headland from where we fished stands in place of the old jetty. His first trawler was anchored not far from it. As he cut up for bait the only fish I caught all morning, I tried to imagine the Boris of 50 years ago, rowing a tinnie out to his boat in the dark.