Mum’s favourite fishing spot was a big, flat rock.
It looked out across the still waters, just an easy stroll from our rented home.
There were lots of rocks to fish from. All shapes and sizes. But Mum liked the big, flat one.
We would wander down there most Sunday nights. Usually after dinner. Each with a hand line. Dad carried the bucket, and the net. And one large bottle of beer.
It was always calming. If there had been anger at home, it left when the bait hit the water.
The old man spent more time sitting than fishing. He seemed to enjoy the quiet.
But Mum was there to fill that bucket. And she usually did. I can remember her catching the biggest flathead I’d ever seen. On her little hand line. A crowd gathered, and she was proud as punch.
Her ability to snare all manner of marine life wasn’t passed down to her son. I liked fishing. I just wasn’t very good at it.
My great claim to fame on the water’s edge was the gift to tangle any fishing line within reach. It was uncanny. I could have all our gear in knots before Dad had taken the top off his bottled brew.
I had this firmly in mind, when the girls decided they wanted to go fishing these holidays.
It seemed safe enough. As long as I kept away from their equipment.
Cheap rods were purchased, and armed with nothing more than a bucket, some bait, and my thongs, we ventured to a ‘secret’ spot on the river.
Daughter Two had caught a fish before. A few years ago. It was a poisonous, spike-covered thing that caused panic on the boardwalk. But a fish nonetheless.
The Teenager was yet to open her account. This was to be her year. She had a steely determination, when lines were cast.
The cause wasn’t helped when her second throw landed in a nearby tree. Local birds were suitably warned.
On cue, her sister pulled in the first fish of the evening. A tiny bream. It took an eternity for me to remove the hook, as it wriggled under my safety thong.
We had cause to reconsider our location a little later. A combination of mozzies the size of army choppers, and a nearby gathering of the local hillbilly clan. Classic banjo wasn’t far away.
The next night, we shifted spots. It was a masterstroke. For Daughter Two. She caught another one. The Teenager caught a small branch, a plastic bag and part of a newspaper.
There was worse to come. Her hook became trapped under a submerged object. She urged me to put my cool drink down, leave my camp chair and provide urgent assistance.
I did as requested, but not before issuing a lecture on the need for her to get tougher in such a battleground. Surely she could sort out a little snag.
This line of reasoning seemed sound, until I took over. The stupid hook had obviously caught the hatch of a slow-moving submarine.
I gave the line one final yank, and to my surprise, it came free. As did the boulder that had been holding it hostage.
It left its watery home, and sped missile-like towards the shore. Directly into my left shin. The scream I unleashed scared away fish in surrounding suburbs.
The following few nights were less eventful. Except for the god-awful tangle I managed to inflict on Daughter Two’s line, while foolishly trying to replace a sinker. Some things never change.
The Teenager kept trying, and eventually landed her first fish later in the week. Although it was under the guidance of the brother-in-law, who is an expert in such matters. I’m pretty sure he managed to avoid serious shin injuries.
We don’t have a big, flat rock. And as yet, no-one has caught a fish large enough to keep. But we’ve found our favourite spot. Mum would be proud.