Sunday, May 23, 2010

Floundering About

Well, I can't believe it is so long since I wrote a post in this blog. This summer has been anything but a relaxed lifestyle. It seems there was a confluence of events that all conspired to keep me from my garden and fishing, but more on that in a later blog post. The summer started off with some pretty miserable weather in November, but by December it was cranking along, with the full effects of a strong El Nino weather pattern creating dry clear conditions with flat seas and persistent south westerlies.

Time to sharpen my skills with the net and spear. Almost sounds gladiatorial that does. The reality is a little different though. At 45 and feeling somewhat less than gladiatorial in physique, I think I've developed the ultimate in lazy mans fishing. I have my flounder net already set up with anchors, floats etc, and packed loosely in an old wheelbarrow. I trundle down to the nearest jetty at the end of our road at low tide and park the wheelbarrow on the top of the jetty. I toss one of the anchors over the side, which pulls the net with it. Then I walk down the steps, pick up the anchor and walk across the channel in the middle, which at low tide is only knee high. Both anchors are wedged into the sand, then a guide rope is attached to the bottom of the wharf. All up it takes about 10-15 minutes to walk down, set the net and walk back.

At high tide, I jump in the water, untie the rope and hop back on the wharf. Then its simply a matter of hauling the net onto the wharf and straight into the wheelbarrow. Obviously this involves a bit of physical exertion, but hey, less than rowing a boat out to the net! Usually I get a flounder or two for my efforts, which is OK for a little sandy harbour like this.

When the moon is at the right phase, the tide is coming in as night falls, there is no wind and the water is warm, I go spearing for flounder. This has to be one of the most peaceful activities on the planet. As night falls, I grab my headlight, my spear and my catch bag and head out across the road and down the boat ramp onto the flats. Occasionally there is phosphorescent algae on the sand that has come in on the last tide. This sparkles and shimmers as I walk across it, just enchanting. As the dusk deepens, the local moreporks start calling to each other across the water, keeping me company. The water is usually warmer than the air temperature and without moonlight, the stars are spectacular. I go in up to my knees, walking against the incoming tide, so I can spot the flounder as they move out of the channel and over the flats on this incoming water. Slow and careful is the key with this fishing, keeping the noise to a minimum and looking for the distinctive shape of the flounder as they hide in the sand.

This is the sort of scene that greets me as I start the expedition, magical isn't it? I'm lucky if I get more than one flounder after an hour or so of walking, but its worth it.

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