Trekking Tales: Fish stories and waterways (part 2)

My family in Brisbane was not into fishing, although I had a boyfriend who was, and he enjoyed teaching me to cast

My family in Brisbane was not into fishing, although I had a boyfriend who was, and he enjoyed teaching me to cast out into the waves crashing onto the sea shore of Queensland’s east coast. But my first summer job was on the Great Barrier Reef where tourists boat out to sea, hoping to catch one of the many kinds of edible reef fish. As staff, I went on one such outing and fortunately/unfortunately was practically the only one landing anything.  Since I was staff, and my fish were small – only around three to five pounds, you understand – they were cut up to supply the paying guests with bait! I don’t know what kind mine were but coral trout and red emperor were usually on the menu, although perhaps not that night! These made the most delicious fish and chips imaginable.

Another fish story also comes from the Barrier Reef. When not on the fishing trip itself, everyone who could, would greet the boat as it came back at the end of the day to see the resulting catch. On this occasion I was one of the watchers as the day’s catch was being displayed. One was a huge head only! This super-sized fish was being pulled up out of the water. Just before getting it into the net and subsequently the boat, a shark leapt upwards, sharp teeth snapping off the whole body. What a sight that must have been – and what a story to tell the folks back home.

Playing on waterways the world over is big business. Brisbane’s City Cats transport commuters who watch tourists snapping photos galore. On Victoria’s Inner Harbour, cute wee ferries bounce from one pretty place to another. On spring and summer Sundays, they perform a ballet to music. Canal boats, long, colourful, and fully equipped, chug along narrow canals that criss-cross the U.K. Two people are needed to negotiate the craft when a low bridge is encountered. One person goes ashore to “wind up” the bridge, bringing road traffic to a halt, while the other takes the boat through to the other side and waits until the bridge is down and their partner aboard once more. Then off they go, slowly, through towns and beautiful countryside – a peaceful holiday. Of course, it is even more relaxing to have fish and chips in a local pub when docked for the night! You can always walk it off the following day by strolling along the towpath, as long as someone is willing to stay on board to steer the craft.

I was visiting friends in the southern part of England and the man of the house decided he wanted to take us rowing on the Thames. Loaded up with a picnic lunch and their three young people, we rented a large rowboat and went upstream to begin with. Locks were soon encountered, and we lined up with all the larger boats until it was time to go inside the cement enclosure. As water poured in to lift us all, we were pushed around a bit and had to be careful not to bump into fancier boats. A lockmaster was at the controls, watching and warning as needed. As we returned after lunch, now going “downhill”, I offered to help row, but it was soon obvious that Ian, the muscular young man, was a much safer option.

While not a fisher-person, water grabs my attention every time, whether it’s the ocean, a lake, a river or a creek, or even a slough, as the prairie folk call their ponds. How lucky we are to live in a country that has water to drink, to travel on, and even to use as a playground.



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