Saturday, 8 September 2012

Fishing for flatties

Went fishing on Thursday in Moreton Bay down by the mangroves at Jacobs Well. It's only 30 minutes out of town. It's part of the Brisbane area by-passed by all but fishermen. Tens of thousands of  families and surfers, boards strapped to their roof or boots bursting with beach towels and beach umbrellas and body boards fly by at high speed on their way to the famed Gold Coast. The M1 makes it less than an hour away.

But take the turn-off to Jacob's Well and it's another country. The road is a series of straight bitumen strips which take you through car-high sugar cane fields first east, then south, then east again. In the distance, between breaks in the walls of cane, a plume of cloud-white smokes reaches for the Queensland sky from the single smoke stack of the sugar mill. It's an anachronism, like having a abattoir in your suburb. The next nearest sugar mills are two hours south and five hours north in rich alluvial soil country much more suitable for cropping. Even the local farmers agree. They petition the government every five years for permission to sell up and subdivide but the land is deemed arable and the government has held firm until now.

We picked up some bait and got on the water by 9:30. The fish were biting but they were all small buggers and didn't need a measure. We kissed them goodbye and set them free. Every time we decided to pack up and head home the bites came again. More small ones, mainly bream, a whiting, a sole. Then almost at the death of the day Denis landed a bigun. A flathead. We thought about measuring it on the marked up rule on the side of the tinny but the bugger was thrashing about threatening to jump out of the boat and we weren't going anywhere near those painful spikes. He was likely to do a runner if we got him anywhere near the water.

We reckoned he was just under the 70cm length. Unfortunately we couldn't remember the actual maximum legal size so we phoned Denis' wife and getting no answer left a message - 'Could she do a flathead google  and get back to us?'

Poor fat, father flathead, cos that's what he turned out to be (flathead over a certain length are all female and can't be taken), was having trouble holding his breath while waiting for the return call. Our one-size-too-small esky was a tad cramped and rigor mortis soon set in. We gave him our blessings and our thanks and, since we had enough to feed two couples, we headed for home.

As we hauled the dripping boat from the water attached to our Nissan XTrail, the phone rang.  Turned out the max was 70cm and we were comfortably inside the measure. Luckily the hour delay hadn't resulted in us becoming conscience stricken. We were able to partake of that dusky beauty free of guilt.


sarah toa said...

Great stuff. A dusky then?
I've heard if you wipe the wound on a flathead's belly, it take the pain away from the spiking. May be a myth, not sure.

Anonymous said...

My husband spent hours watchign fishing programmes which features an Aussie (Harry?) this post reminded me of him - he was always kissing the fish and chucking them back. Glad you enjoyed your dinner

little hat said...

Yep, dark and handsome.