Catching Dead Fish.
Lawrence Archibald Smith, better known as Larry to his mates and the constabulary, is a fish catcher of some renown. By fair means or foul Larry very rarely comes home without a feed. But even Larry out did himself the day he caught and landed a fish that had been dead for several hours.
-This piscatorial feat occurred a little over a year ago at Big River inlet on one of those balmy summer days of mid January. Larry and his longtime girl friend Rebecca had joined Cheryl and me for a beach barbeque and day in the sun. Larry had brought along Beth, his nine year old daughter, on loan from his ex-wife, and she provided excellent company for our two year old, Tom.
-Being the types never to miss an opportunity to wet a line, Larry and I had thrown the surf rods in on the off chance of picking up some salmon off the beach. Because it had been planned as a family day we knew we would not be allowed to fish seriously. No wandering along the beach for miles lost in the sand, surf and sun hoping to nail that elusive six pound black-back salmon. But we also knew the girls would not object if we threw a silver lure or two into the surf under their close supervision if we let the kids have a go too.
-While Tom is a bit too young to have mastered the art of spinning for salmon, young Beth has got things down to a fine art and, while she is pretty quick to give it away if things are quiet, she lands her fair share when they are on. Tom on the other hand is just as happy playing with the fish flapping on the sand!
-The tide was more than half way on the make when we arrived and, with a quick chauvinistic call from Larry to Rebecca to get things unpacked, he and Beth were soon sending their lures into the tidal flow. Larry has the knack of being able to do that - get people, mainly longsuffering Rebecca, to do the things that would keep him from having first crack at the fishing.
-I joined them as soon as I had helped the girls set up the picnic. Tom was already loudly exclaiming over the two salmon Larry and Beth had already landed. In no time at all I had a couple of nice ones on the beach too. It was about then that young Beth hooked what appeared to be a salmon of larger than usual proportions. The bend in the light rod and her loud yells for help soon had Larry at her side. Unfortunately the fish must have made the sanctuary of the kelp because despite Larry's best tips on how to handle the fish, Beth's energetic tugging snapped the line.
-A short time later, as the fishing had gone off, we buried the catch in the damp sand and went and helped the others get the barbie going. After lunch we played with the kids. The usual things - sand castles, chasing the tennis ball in the waves, drawing pictures in the sand, trying to bury the dog! All the great things that happen at beaches allover Australia that don't cost a single cent.
-Just as it was time to pack up, Larry grabbed his rod to have several last casts - his theory being that you should never miss the opportunity, as you never know when you will be able to do it again. I told him he was wasting his time - the tide had turned and we had never caught fish here on an outgoing tide. He would not be deterred. As Larry tells the story, on his second or third cast his lure seemed to go dead and he thought that he had picked up some weed. Instead, when his lure came up the beach it had picked up a length of monofilament. Never one to leave waste line laying around, Larry proceeded to pull in the hooked line hand over hand. Despite striking some resistance, Larry persevered and in a very short time had not only retrieved twenty or thirty meters of very recognizable line but also one very dead salmon of more than reasonable proportions that still had a solid grip on Beth's lure!
-Of course that was the start of a lengthy discussion between Larry and Beth as to who had really caught the fish. Larry maintaining that without his skill and persistence, the fish would have been lost. Beth of course claiming that without her luck in hooking it Larry would not have been able to land it. It was an argument that was never going to be won. To this day the subject of catching dead fish is never brought up in Beth's company.