Read each of the winners stories here…

A selection of additional entrants stories can be found below…

 

Selection of Additional Entrants

Only on the Cape

by Jonathan Myers

Mackerel had been working the huge bait balls along the edge of the surf. I shoulder my bag, leaving a note for my friend on my windscreen, and set off down the beach
200 yards ahead I see terns targeting peanut bunker. I pick up the pace, scanning the surface. Sure enough, I find what I am hoping for – mackerel harassing the baitfish, which have been pushed to the very edge of the water and are falling victim to both marine and aerial hunters, or finding themselves thrown up on the sand by the surf.
I flick the fly out and immediately hook up; bringing 8 inches of iridescent green to hand. Several more follow suit. The fish continue to feed on the surface and I cannot help but wonder if I could catch one on a dry fly. Rummaging around in my bag, I find an eclectic mix of bombers (for bass) and a few dries (for trout) that I use on the Cape’s kettle ponds. The bomber is completely ignored when static on the water, but gets harassed all the way back to shore. It’s just too big for the tinker mackerel. Instead, I try a big Green Drake mayfly. I am not even sure why it is there, but I decide to give it a whirl. I flick it out. Nothing happens. I twitch it and bang – fish on! I play this game for 10 minutes, hooking (and returning) the best part of 20 fish. Marvellous! How many people have caught a mackerel on a mayfly, I wonder?
The sun starts to set, the tide starts to turn and the mackerel begin to disappear. Continuing up the beach, I hook a bigger mackerel. It cartwheels out of the water; pushing a pound and a half, it makes a great fight. As I start to guide it in, it takes off again, and I see the unmistakable dorsal of a big bass beside it. The mackerel is swallowed whole, head first, but in the process, the hook sticks in the bass’s cheek. Realising it has been hooked, the bass heads for deeper water. It swims parallel to the beach for 60 yards, as I run to keep up with it. Each time I muscle it back to the surf, it pulls away, stripping line. A 36 inch bass weighs 17lbs. Whilst the reel was designed to hold Permit, my desire to fish light was now going to cause me a problem. Then the water erupts and I realise the battle with the bass has been lost to 600lbs of hungry seal.
The seal surfaces triumphantly and proceeds to devour the bass in a leisurely fashion, looking straight at me. It took me a while to notice the fly was embedded in the seal’s flipper. I slowly walk down the beach, pointing the rod directly at the seal, hoping the fly will gently pull out. Each time I pull on the line, the seal’s flipper lifts, waving at me. As I contemplate the situation, a brief change of water colour catches my eye. As if the seal could sense my unease, it turns to look out to sea. An enormous fin breaks the surface.
The seal rolls to its left and dives. The White Pointer surges forward and in doing so, shoulders my line; impossibly transferring the fly to just above its top lip. The shark, travelling at 40 mph, overshoots the seal substantially, but is going at such speed that it slides majestically up the beach. The leviathan comes to a grinding halt at the exact moment that my friend Mark appears at my shoulder. We look at each other wide-eyed. After a pause, I hand him my pliers and ask if he would mind removing the fly and putting the fish back, while I look for another Green Drake for him to try.


It’s Never Too Late

by Jim Collopy

This story recounts a day, thirty years ago, on the Thredbo River, in The Snowy Mountains of New South Wales.

I had happily fished on my own for many years when my wife announced that she was going to join me. I sensed that my life was about to change. After some intensive instruction, we were off to the river. Both of us were charged with adrenalin “Have you got one yet, have you got one yet?” We left the car high on The Alpine Way and slid down the grassy embankment on our backsides and into the fragrant leaf litter of the snow gums and onto a wombat track and down into the river. What a sight. The river flowed effortlessly through a barricade of granite boulders, the water clear and variously green and bronze and shadow black. We fished slowly upstream, catching a few small trout and enjoying every minute.
Eventually the day started to draw in and in the golden twilight the teatree, leaning over and into the river, released clouds of snowflake caddis which fluttered and then bounced on and off the surface of the water. I suggested that now might be a good time to head home. “Not yet, just one last cast”. And so it went until the river made a sharp turn to the right and there was Nudie Girl, a long, narrow, motionless pool, edged with tussock. The pool so named due to a prior unexpected encounter with a naked woman being photographed against the backdrop of the Crackenback Range. But I digress. Bet and I peered into this pool as its’ surface turned to slate grey in the fading light. Our hearts missed a beat, when a back porpoised out of the water, but it was only a platypus. Again we watched and waited. “Against the bank, next to the tussock, did you see that?” A fish was rising peacefully and steadily. “You cast first” I suggested, my gallantry concealing my performance anxiety. The fly bounced off the tussock and onto the water. It rested there, was the fish spooked? But then, the faintest movement and Bet struck. Nothing. “You struck too soon”. “I didn’t, that was a rejection”. “It wasn’t “. “Was”. It was pretty dark by now and the tension was palpable. I suggested a change of fly. “You’d better do it,” she said. The pool was coal black and the Milky Way formed a ceiling above us. Bet repeated the previous cast, the fly and the telltale dimples barely visible. We waited and then Bet struck. “I’ve got him” she shouted and the trout took off down the pool pulling the rod from vertical to horizontal. But then he was off. “Too much pressure”, I said. “Rubbish” or words to that effect, she said, shattered. Bet flicked the line over to me. “Told you so, the fly’s gone”. And then I saw and she saw the pigtail. Her face was now darker than the night, which was itself pitch black. “I guess that’s it for the day” I ventured. With that she grabbed my rod and cast into the darkness. We could see nothing, but we heard the soft sounding clop, clop repeating itself at intervals as the trout sucked insects off the surface. With the next clop Bet lifted the rod instinctively and the fish was hooked. The moon was now rising and the pool turned to silver and we saw that fish, a good fish, a big brown trout. We fell backwards onto the bank elated.
We both learnt something that day. Bet never again allowed me to tie on a fly for her and I learnt that “just one more cast, just one more cast” can lead you into the dark and into the night.


Essential Equipment

by Frank Yardley

There are many lessons to be learnt when fishing with other anglers, not just about fishing, sometimes about equipment you should never be without.
Tom is a vata, (pronounced varta), personality. This term is derived from Indian philosophy where that type of person has fast metabolism, fast thinking, likely to engage robustly with life, tearing into it. Tom loves to fish hard all day, move quickly up the stream, covering vast amounts of water with casts in all the likely places. Clever casts, reach casts, curve casts, steeple casts, opposite shoulder. All delivered with precision, speed and accomplishment.
After my first fishing trip with Tom I made a rule for myself; never go fishing with him without a head torch secreted in my vest or backpack. There were three of us who set out that day, 4-wheel driving to a remote river access in the hope of finding water untouched by other anglers. The late summer day was warm, and the trout rose freely. We worked our way upstream casting to rising fish, luring others to rise from the depths to sip down our flies as they drifted past. We navigated several gorge sections of the river as we made our way upstream, riffles, glides and slow dark pools, typical of a high-country stream. Sun dappling on the water, no footprints, indicating the trout had few angler encounters and likely to be unaware of the hook in the buggy morsels that we drifted into their food-lane window.
Late afternoon the third in our party declared he was stuffed and decided to return downstream to the truck and a refreshing ale. Tom was determined to press on, another bend in the river, another pool, another gorge to navigate – more fish ignorant of anglers who would interrupt their bid to pile on condition for spawning. As the sun began to slip below the ridgeline and the temperature dropped, Tom decided one more pool and then we would turn back, this became another and another as evening caddis began to emerge. “Tom, we have head back, it will be dark soon!”
“Yeah, yeah – did you see that rise?” he replied as his fly snaked out to land gently above the widening ripples of a splashy rise.
“Tom, I am heading back.”
“Ok, Ok I’ll just release this fish. Nice brown!”
The day was spent. We had many kilometres of river to walk back down. Much of the bank was steep-sided and covered in heavy bush so we were forced to wade downstream over the miles of river we had fished during the day. Striding back was hard work, the boulders and bedrock slippery, the failing light making it difficult to see the river bed. Soon we were navigating in the dark. Tom took out his headlight and led the way, mine was back with my gear in the truck. I stumbled over boulders, waded on tiptoes through gorges where the water lapped the very top of my waders. Pool after pool, brief sections along a grassy bank then another narrow gorge, struggling to keep up. It was about 11pm as we continued stumbling, tired and hungry led on by Tom’s solitary headlamp, pressing on through another riffle into a long pool when a voice called out of the darkness. “Where are you blokes going?”
We stopped, Tom flashed his light about, and we realised we were ploughing on downstream below the truck parked at the end of the access track. Our friend laughed and said, “I should have let you bastards keep going”. After this trip, I vowed never to fish with Tom without a quality headlamp.


Wait for Me

by David Wakefield

Here is a contribution-and by the way it really happened!

Late autumn on the Eucumbene and that bone chilling air of a freezing night silently enveloped us.

We were at the mouth of the Gang Gang Creek and had taken a 6 1/2 pounder and a 4 1/2 pounder from the little bay as they made daring food forays a few yards up the creek.

We turned our attention to the broader reaches of the silent lake as the creek disappeared in the gloom. Fred Dunford’s Corduliid and a few other standby night-time patterns were being worked through the meniscus in anticipation. Our odd strands of conversation carried well along the water and occasionally mixed with watery disturbances that we optimistically classified as fish but were more likely other aquatics dwellers.

From the trees behind us and down the siding came the pounding of a mob of kangaroos. The heavy rhythmic thud of the old man followed by the steady lighter beat of the females was very clear as was the single much lighter thump of a Joey bringing up the rear of the mob. At intervals the mob progressed then hesitated-undoubtedly aware of us standing waist deep in the ponding waters. Our ears told us when the mob reached the creek and leapt across it-first the old man, a longer pause between thuds, the females each breaching the gap easily. But in the rear the little Joey with a much faster pace and lightest tread of all appeared to be playing catch up. He got closer to the creek-hesitation-splash-the little bugger had missed it! He was in the creek’s shallow waters-probably embarrassed-certainly wet and possibly a little colder. Some splashing-the rustling of the grass and then the higher frequency beat of his bounds as it followed the mob further north.

We gave up for the night at that point-too difficult to stand up and fish when laughing so much.

If only he had a Knog Bilby to show him the creek!


A Night to Remember

by Malcolm Biddle

It was day 12 and another successful NZ trip was coming to a close. We had decided that a game of golf on the day before we travelled would fit the bill. The fishing had been epic and a casual game of golf seemed in order. Usually followed by a few beers and a nice thick piece of steak at the local tavern. We headed to the Sport Shop to see Donny the owner. Donny gave us a strange look before he said. “Well guys the weather is good for a hatch this afternoon I think you ought to reconsider. We thought about it for about 2 seconds and decided to go fishing.
After 20 winks in the early afternoon it was time, so with the vehicle packed off we headed to our magic spot South of Town. When we arrived the birds were already working so making haste slowly with that heightened feeling you have as you ready yourself for a good session. The Emergers were on and we made the short walk to the river’s edge. It was nearly 4pm and because it was late in the season the light would fade quickly.
You go south I said to my brother. He was already moving in that direction and I headed up to an area where we had caught some good fish. The bubble line had moved and there was just a bit more flow in the river. Would have preferred the status quo but the birds were working in the area I would fish so I planned my attack and got into it. Fish were rising but they were not taking, something was wrong. I reached for the walkie talkie, No answer. I made a quick decision and headed down to my brothers location Panic set in as I realised the light was going and quickly. I moved into a half jog and finally I saw my brother in stream and connected to a good fish. “I’m on” he said. Their taking that lightly dressed dry with no tail.
I fumbled into my fly box in the fading light as he netted a 4 pounder. I quickly got into the river about 75 metres downstream with fish rising everywhere. Soon a 3 pounder came to the net and the light was an issue. Twenty feet away a fish was rising and I cast to it…” I’m on” I shouted but this fish had me in the zone. It went to the bottom and the pulses told me it was a good fish maybe the fish of the trip. It headed downstream and in the dark I followed. I knew the water would deepen at the bend and made a last ditch effort to subdue the fish. It was a 59 cm Brownie in the 6lb range and finally it gave in. What a fish and after release I wanted another. It was dark I checked the fly and it broke the line at a small tug. I wonder if the headlamp will work. The batteries were low and the light dim and the eyes are not what they used to be.
The minutes went by the fish were still rising. Finally I thought I had the fly connected. I moved back into the water looking for another “good” fish to cast to and there it was only 20 feet away. I cast and that magic feeling of another good fish hit me like a freight train…and then it was off. I wound the line in and after inspecting my tippet found the knot had given way. There was twisted line and it was all a complete disaster. We both caught 6 pounders that evening and Donny had been right as usual. Oh for a decent torch/headlamp and we would have had a night to remember for the right reasons.


Fishing with Saint Peiter

by Chris Kriekenbeek

In the Moment.
This is a memory of fishing the Geehi river in NSW with my brother Peiter some years ago.
The day dawned, at last, after a prolonged night of snoring courtesy of my brother. The stentorian sound of a buzz saw gave way to the call of Magpies and Rosellas outside our stone cabin. Brother, have you put the kettle on he asked, I was tempted to throw the kettle (empty) at him having had about 2 hours sleep. However the love we share as brothers prevailed. Breakfast was negotiated and we then wandered down to the river, Coffees in one hand and a “smoke” in the other.
A rise, and then another, the blood warms and, the hand start to shake, coffee spills and it is just about impossible to light a cigarette. Yet we spoil ourselves forcing each other to wait till the pain of not being ready subsides.
We both look at each other and “saunter” back to the cabin to get our gear. Well, it is a quick saunter!
Lines are checked leaders are run through some inner tube rubber strips, knots are tested. then the eternal question, “bro, what do you think they are feeding on?”, “Well, I am going to try a your brown seals fur nymph he says”, good oh, I will try a tiny Wulf with a dropper of an equally tiny nymph.
A final smoko and we are off.
The first cast is always for our Dad who passed away whilst fishing with me on the 90 mile beach in Victoria. Peit wishes me luck and walks off to the head of the pool, clouds of smoke trail in his wake, a small inadvertent curse as he trips on a root is all I hear.
I cast, the flies land just to the side of the bubble trail, heart stops, breathing falters… the Wulf disappears, I raise the rod and I am on. A beautiful Rainbow spears out of the water bending and twisting like a ballet dancer, it is a decent fish of about 2 – 3lbs by my reckoning. The fish soon tires and I am able to bring it close to me, one last jump and it is at my feet, I reach down and twist the barbless hook out and gently lead it back into the current.
I hear a shout, “Bro I am on”, I forget my situation in a trice and scamper to where the noise comes from. My heart lifts with Joy. My brothers rod bends and jerks so happily, doing the job it was designed to do. Peit’s cigarette hangs from the side of his mouth, a long length of ash suspended defying gravity. “Peit” I yell, “good on you mate, keep the bloody rod up, do not horse it in”, and all manner of other useless advice is given. He does not give a “bugger” he is lost in the moment and two brothers who love each other just enjoy it together.
The fish, a beautiful Brownie is landed and released. Much back slapping, manic laughter, hugs etc. abound. Bloody hell it is so good to be alive.
Years later, Peit has lost his sight and all the things he enjoyed have been curtailed. We have, however, many memories to share, many “tall” stories to recount. This one stays in my memory because even though we had many adventures together, none have the same sense of poignancy. As he sells his rods, his reels, and his vast collection of books related to fishing diminishes through sale or give away. I remain at his side. We are brothers who have shared much and are the wealthier for it.
And then the story continues…..
We are one with the stream, we are one with nature, we are one.


High Stakes on Dusk

by Scott Raggatt

Dusk is a wonderful time for flyfishing tragics.
It’s forty-five minutes of madness, when adrenaline levels hit fever-pitch in anticipation of an evening rise. It can be a mechanism to claw back lost ground if your day has been slow. It can also be a time to gracefully exit the water if you’ve already had a productive outing. Regardless of which scenario dusk always prompts happy thoughts, even those which have nothing to do with your next cast, such as gourmet food and cold beverage(s).
Some years ago, it was right on dusk in the upper reaches of Australia’s fabled Snowy River. I turn to my long-time fly-fishing comrade Guy Evans and ask about dinner. And with his reply, all ‘happy thoughts’ were very short-lived. Instantly both of us were overwhelmed by the realisation there was not a scrap of food back at our campsite. Guy thought I had organised the catering…I thought he had done so. One of those misunderstandings between mates you might say. Well out of reach from any township and with darkness moments away, we stood out on that river trying to process the situation. No food. Light drizzle had evolved into steady rain and to cap it off we were fishing a tailrace river whose masters then decided to release its maximum flow upon us. The tiny trickle of a stream we’d enjoyed all day soon became a raging torrent with us in the middle, getting cold.
Deep breaths.
On a brighter note it was a soothing consolation to know our campsite held large stocks of red wine. It was one thing both of us remembered to bring. What a remarkable co-incidence. But wine on its own would only equal heartburn and headaches. We knew it. The situation was clear. To avoid the most uncomfortable of nights we needed a strategy; one which exploits that magic period – dusk – when trout can do very silly things. Our agreed tactics also necessitated a horrible deed. No, it was not changing to a nymph…we’d rather starve. The deed I’m referring to was to kill a fish, or two. It’s something we hadn’t done in twenty years, but this day was different.
Despite losing count of fish netted and released that afternoon, the aforementioned conditions were now weighing heavily against us. Our odds of bagging a feed weren’t great. Nevertheless, I headed away from the river’s main flow into a newly formed slower piece of water and started to concentrate, really hard. Due to fading light my highly visible elk-hair caddis remained fly of choice. This fly hadn’t failed me all day. Surely it would not let me down now, even in the rain? Never before had the phrase ‘dry or die’ been more apt. With clenched teeth being a clear display of my determination (and to stop shivering) I began casting into a bubble line that didn’t exist twenty minutes earlier. In the almost dark distance I could just pick out Guy, rolling on the bank with laughter at my seemingly futile cause. Trying my best to ignore him, on first drift a pan-sized rainbow smashed that caddis. Nobody told this fish it was raining! We marvelled at how quickly it adjusted itself to the river’s rapid change in dynamics. Sadly, for its mistake this trout paid the ultimate price but there was no time to grieve as rain persisted. Best time to catch a fish…is straight after you’ve just caught one. So I repeated my efforts, eventually landing another two specimens of similar size in that section, barely needing to change position for all three.
I ate like a king that night, even offering one of my fish to Guy 😊
It’s amazing what can be achieved out there if you really have to. Saving us from a night of hunger was twenty minutes of tenacity, some confidence in my fly and the magic…of dusk!


Caddis Supreme

by Don Schofield

Rivers hold a particular fascination for most fly anglers with its many variables. As in timing the unpredictable run of sea trout, you do need fortune on your side to time a good caddisfly hatch.

My mate’s Nissan comes to an abrupt halt at the edge of a burnt orange gravel road. The crisp dawn air uncovers the sweet aroma of morning dew. Rods assembled we finish the last slurp of coffee before we grab our packs and head downhill. My immediate thoughts are on the disappearing full moon, the smell of fresh dubbin, and the boot kicked water droplets. The urgency of the river beckons, and we still have fifty metres to go. But I know soon we will get another day’s fix.

As we stride closer, the unchecked vista beyond is better than a masters painting! The stream is full, majestic and powerful. And yes, I have that same feeling that the fish will perform. After thirty or so minutes slipping the line through my fingers with no hint of action, it is time to move location. So, we continue along a rough rock-strewn track downstream.

Much later, an intense blue sky signals a warmer temperature to scorch the dark brown earth. After five enjoyable hours of toil, my only result is the return of a solitary trout, a plump brown, but just the one fish. In the meantime, my mate powers. Exceptional, picked up three and dropped another handsome spotted wonder on grasshoppers—the real thing!

We are now quietly weary. The lengthening shadows have cooled the still air, so we return to our first beat. Caddisflies flutter in numbers and my mood lifts. My gut reaction tells me it’s time for my artificial to shine red-hot, do the trick and level the ledger so to speak.

Caddis cluster and dance around flirting with death at the river edge. More cream than white, these fluttery insects whip trout into a frenzy. A light switch response once they get going. I sense the moment is about to transform the middle of the stream to the dance floor of entertainment.

A few lone caddisflies flirt with trout on the lookout near the surface mid-stream. The occasional telltale slashing-rise gives me a perfect opportunity to fool a fish or two with my kick-ass Goddard Caddis ammo. The fly is highly visible and floats like a kayak. Surely the fly to use?

As if creating magic, my fly line unfolds a mist of spray before the line straightens an arc to land downstream for a winner. A bare moment of drift then its trout on!

Two casts later and I am once more in the zone and only challenged by the rogue sea breeze. I raise the tip of the rod aloft, as the fly skates a little across the current line then bingo another brown connects. My artificial lure behaves like a magnet working its alchemy once more.

Meanwhile, despite setbacks, my mate doggedly perseveres and wills his natural bait to succeed as the drift of his hopper pulls towards a good-looking gutter. Excited, I wander a few steps further down the run, attracted by another hopeful sign in the film. My caddisfly barely skims the surface, and for the briefest moment, I halt the artificial two metres in front of the surface action. Irresistible, the fish pounces and once more smashes the fur bodied caddis on offer. The flies allure too much of a temptation, it disappears in a blink!

I turn sideways. My mate nods his approval after I hook yet another fish. I slide back one more healthy brown trout into the cooling river before smiling towards the sky. Shadows bring a chill into the air, and the time has come to pack gear and return to the vehicle.

An exhilarating and rewarding end to a splendid day I will never forget.


The Great Escape

by Warren Prior

Fly fishing takes us to some incredibly beautiful, yet incredibly remote destinations, which is one of the things I love the most about the sport. This does however mean that we’re occasionally met with unique challenges, while cut off from the rest of the world. My team and I ended up in one such situation, while fishing a trout festival in South Africa.

After a productive afternoon’s fishing on an isolated trout water, tucked away on a farm in the Natal Midlands, we packed our wet gear into our utes, and started making our way back to the local club for weigh-in. By the time we turned over our engines, darkness had engulfed us, and so we navigated the dusty, potholed farm roads with the help of our vehicle’s headlights. Our journey didn’t last long, as we soon discovered we were trapped by a gate, which the farmer had locked on his evening rounds. With no phone reception, and no means by which to contact or locate the farmer, we were left to improvise in order to escape our evening’s fate.

Thankfully we discovered an area where the fence had been broken, albeit reattached to the fence poles, perhaps by someone who’d experienced a similar fate. We carefully repositioned our vehicles in the long grass, illuminating the area, and then set about carefully dismantling the fence. It took some time, but we eventually created a gap large enough for the vehicles to drive though, before repeating the process in reverse in order to reassemble the fence (always leave the farm in the same state you found it).

A few hours later well rolled into weigh in, fashionably late, but still in time for a hot meal and an ice cold beer. Despite the great fishing (I seem to remember landing an 8lb rainbow trout), this trip will always be remembered for our unplanned adventure in the dark.


Crepuscular

by Peter Gibson

“Crepuscular”? I had to look it up. This was Fred Dunford writing in Modern Fishing, in the 1970s, about evening fishing on Lake Eucumbene—something about casting into the “crepuscular” stillness. Fred was my agriculture teacher at Monaro High School in Cooma. I doubt that even his fellow school teachers had come across that word. Certainly not in fishing magazines.

Fred sure could write. “Three Bits of Cardboard” in Les Hawkins’ anthology Great Australian Fly-fishing Stories is one of the greatest stories written about fishing in Australia, and his Modern Fishing articles during the 1970s—about fishing the mudeye hatches with his Corduliids—changed everything for Monaro anglers.

Many of the teachers at Monaro High fly-fished. Fred. Bruce Canavan, head of the English department. The PE teacher whose name I’ve forgotten but who swore by his “Hairy Tomato” that he refused to show anyone. Frank Tarlinton, who arrived late and finished early; wore his school-day shoes because he could cast so far that he never got wet feet. Always out-fished us. Frank invented the “TC”—Tarlinton’s Corduliid—a simpler version of Fred’s tricky proper tie. One night, Frank gave me the best tip about chironomid hatches: “Don’t waste your time in the bays, get out in the open where the waves are—that’s where the fish are.” I walked out around the point and in my torchlight could see thousands of midges riding the chop.

We’d arrive at Eucumbene around Fred’s “crepuscular” six o’clock. It was only twenty minutes from town; if it was hopeless, you went home early to do homework. Some nights there would be half a dozen teenagers and as many teachers. On a good night, no one asked why we weren’t at home doing that homework.

We fished Frying Pan and Rushy Plain, but mostly Middlingbank arm. Those were years when the lake was almost full and the water at Middlingbank came all the way up near the Buckenderra road. At Middlingbank we fished “The Big Bay”, sometimes “Tryvilla”, but our favourite was “The Straight”, that long bank running north-west from the Middlingbank car park; if there was a westerly it came from your left, making casting a breeze.

It was always entertaining. Some bloke running from the water screaming an eel had attacked him. Sir Roden Cutler, VC, State Governor, falling in a hidden hole and filling his waders; at least he was half eel-proof, sporting one artificial leg due to his World War II heroism. Cutting a hook out of someone’s ear. Bats chasing your back cast in the dark. Fogs so thick that if there was a full moon above, you could wave your arms around and the glowing fog would flow around you like mercury. Water rats that held up a yabby in your torchlight, pondering which end to chew first. The bloke who fished while his Wolfhound hunted in the paddock, dropping a rabbit beside him every ten minutes or so.

And fish everywhere. Fish in the daylight, fish at sundown, fish in darkness. Fish in front, fish to the left, fish to the right. Fish that made a fool of you by rising behind you when you waded out. Silvery rainbows smoothly rolling over mudeyes. Big browns bulldozing tadpoles at midnight where the creeks ran in—one last hopeful cast at them before the warmth of the car. Fish heavy in the bag over your shoulder. Fish sliding around on the floor of the car on the way home. Fish in the fridge, fish in the freezer, fish left at the butchers in Cooma for smoking.

And last conversations in the dark: “Another one, Frank?” “Yes Wayne, that’s enough for me…see you at school.” “I wish that bastard would turn his light out.” “Is that you, Leo?” “No, but he was here last night.” “Can I follow you back Tom, my torch is flat.”

Memories for my own twilight.


Casey’s Loss

by Mark Boschen

Remember when your father said “come on son lets go fishing”? Well, I’ve said that to each of my six kids- some keen, most not. Through casting practice, cold early morning starts, and no fish – again – only one survives. This is where the story starts. At four AM as we drove out of the shed my son Casey said “miserable day.” But I knew the rain in recent days would have my favorite waters rising. We were heading for the gentle sloping banks of Moorabool.
Day break was close, we had to get fuel! What would the next delay be? Back onto the road and soon enough we were at the lake. Casey opened the back of the Cruiser and “Pop” – out went the interior light. I cursed, “Bugger – another delay.”
“Open the rod box, bottom right hand side; grab the head lamp.” I was under the bonnet, opening the fuse box when Casey arrived. “That’s a bit dull mate, shine it here.” The fuse had blown, no spare, no time, and then I hear “Dad, the head lamp just died.”
We set up as quickly as we could in the dark and made the short stroll to the lake, a slight breeze carried morning sounds across the water and the sun was making a feeble attempt at lighting the sky through the grey gloom.
After a short study of the water I said to Casey, “You start from the creek and fish your way around the bay and I’ll work the bay back to you.”
While standing watching him work the shore, not six feet away in the ripple l saw the first tell-tale signs; a fin… a swirl… a back – nice fish! Then another to the left – a tail.
I called Casey, making hurried gestures with my hands and as he arrived a huge tail waved to greet him.
His jaw nearly hit the ground “Dad did you see that!” With other fish around, still working the area, we made the decision to stick with this one.
He got into position made his first cast. “Can you see him?” l said.
Two meters to the right he picked up the line, laid it back down; bow wave, swirl, refusal, give it a twitch, another swirl, and the #12 Tommy was refused!
And so it began. l don’t know who was more excited, me watching Casey trying to land his biggest fish or him nearly jumping out of his skin?
So for the next hour and a half a few fly changes, a few more refusals, quite a few tussocks caught, a lot of expletives, and a fish becoming more and more agitated by the light. “Stop!” I said, “We’ll go for a walk, calm down and go again.” It’s starting to get brighter and brighter, they’ll start moving out to deeper water soon.
I cut off the possum emerger, dropper, and sticky, and went down to a #14 Tommy – sparsely tied the way they should be.
“OK can you see him, now relax make the cast. Nice…!” Instant bow wave, swirl, strike..! Line in the air, missed hook up (thank God he had the presence of mind to put it straight back down). Strike! Fish on!
In 6 to 8 inches of water Mr Brown went off, so did Casey! With his lack of experience landing big fish he did all he could, pressure on, rod high, with a ballistic missile on the end.
As l ran down the bank with the net, calling “let the fish run!” Mr Brown – every bit of 8lb – spat the barbless Tommy…! Another quick dixson release and bow wave to open water.
“Well mate, reckon you’ll remember that one…!”


Short Sighted

by Peter Blom

Age is a complicated thing, while it makes us wise and experienced in our pursuits it reduces our abilities such as eyesight and reactions. These attributes or lack of became abundantly clear during a recent trip to New South Wales New England area.
On a cod excursion with the South East Queensland flyrodders to Benn’s Falls we encountered many Murray cod in the beautiful gorge country that passes through the property.
These cod while small were very aggressive and didn’t seem to care if we knew how to fish or not as they attacked everyone’s flies.
When confronted with the situation of fish not going off the bite the temptation for the angler is to continue just in case they do stop biting.
As the day progressed into evening the fish continued to hammer anything that trespassed on their section of water. Unfortunately being in a steep sided granite gorge made the gentle transition from daylight to darkness quite sudden and with that casting accuracy was quickly lost along with several flies to overhanging trees.
Returning to our cabin became dangerous in the semidarkness with poor eyesight and agility. While we made it back with little more than a few bruises and scrapes from the occasional fall it was decided that our next trip would include a decent head torch to not only find our way home but to maybe stay fishing longer because we would be able to see the eye of the hook.


Reliving my favourite fly fishing moment that occurred from dusk to dark.

by Trevor Percival

Most fly fishermen do not remember or bother to remember the takes they have missed. There is one I particularly remember that was etched into my memory until the day I die. It was a typical cool early Autumn morning with the occasional slow moving clouds overhead intermittently covering the sun. I was slowly walking upstream on the bank of a beautiful weeping willow tree lined stream in northern New South Wales looking for any trout rises. On sighting one, I proceeded cautiously. The resident farmer was out checking on his sheep when he stopped and joined me to have a chat and hopefully see some action from the end of my trusty Sage number five fly rod. I cast a dry fly to where I had last seen a dimple on the water. The fly landed softly and delicately and I was very pleased with my cast especially as the farmer was watching me. We all know that to be successful we must concentrate and keep our eyes on the fly at all times. I felt like a coiled spring waiting for some action. My attention was interrupted by the frightened and injured squeal of a rabbit coming from the opposite side of the stream from where I was fishing. I recognised the sound from my teenage years of when I released rabbits from the now outlawed rabbit traps. I looked up with amazement because there against the background of a rising hill, tall grass tussocks and low trees was an adult wedge-tail eagle just taking off with a rabbit firmly grasped in its sharp talons. My farmer friend exclaimed to me , “Trevor, you have just missed a terrific take and possibly a fair sized trout.” I replied that I was most privileged as to what nature had just presented to me. I thought it was an experience much greater than a trout in the bag. What do you think?


Eucumbene Midges

by Michael Couvee

I live in Cooma in the heart of the Monaro and have access to all the Rivers Lakes and Streams in the NSW Snowy Mountains . I work as a Paramedic and I find fishing a great way to debrief from at times a high pressure career .
I can set out in the evening and be on Middlingbank or Wainui Bay on the Eucumbene in less than 40 minutes .
Flyfishing when the Midge Fishing is at its peak late November into December can be exciting , there’s nothing better than seeing fish in close chomping down on Midge or swirling at Pupa . I’ve seen guys develop “fish froth” trying to rig rods when we arrive as these trout are cruising a rod length away from the shoreline .
Pupa risers in inches of water can be 4-5 lb leaving the tiniest of sips or swirls in the fading light as a spectacular Mountain Sunset unfolds with shades of pinks and oranges reflecting on the surface of the lake dotted with now noses of rising trout.
As the day turns to nite the big Eucumbene Browns come closer , that’s when you tie on a Wooly Bugger or my favourite a Westerns Mudeye pattern . You find yourself casting to sounds and coming up tight with a heavy fish and line beginning to peel off your Reel as your Rod lurches with head shakes .
I never turn on my light until he’s close to the shore So he doesn’t spook and go again , then my net is out and he lays there in the light , illuminated Spots , Golden Brown or Olive for just you to see .
Released back to catch another day.


Always Learning

by Stephen Hill

“Make sure you bring your torch” Those words haunted me as I found yet another hole with one of my booted feet. This was becoming a pattern. Step, step, hole, fall, struggle up, sigh, step, step, step…. It had seemed such a superfluous statement as we packed to leave before sunrise. By my calculations, we were already going to arrive at our destination with enough light to rig up and follow the track to where the trout should be plentiful, dumb and hungry. Why would I need one? Besides, I needed to pack light. I giggled to myself at the pun as I shoved my ground coffee, UHT milk, spoon and hiking stove with gas cylinder into the bottom of my day pack. Just under the three fly boxes and camera. Well, I was right. There was enough light when we arrived and more than enough to scope out plenty of dumb, hungry fish. All through the day. See, cast, wait, lift, beauty, repeat. It was one of those days where it was all happening. Time seemed immaterial. And then, suddenly and out of nowhere, it was dark. “Oof” I could feel the smug smile on my mate’s face. I certainly couldn’t see it. These walks always seem longer. I picked myself up again. Strained my eyes to find the hidden path. I fell in behind the bobbing glow of my better prepared companion. Do smirks have an echo? Still, it was so worth it. But next time, next time ……..


Derwent Bridge
The best cast I ever made.

by Lionel Hunt

My mate Dick Greenlaw has a fishing lodge at Highland Waters.
Lucky Dick. Lucky me.
He loves lake fishing but, knowing my preference for river fishing, is kind enough to indulge me once or twice on my regular visits.
He drives us to Derwent Bridge in his hotted up Land Rover Discovery , knowing that , if nothing else, we can get a beer and a meat pie and mashed potato at the Derwent Bridge Pub.
I loved those trips on the dirt roads, the deep throbbing of the heavily breathed on V8 and Dick’s expert avoidance of the speeding and overladen log trucks hogging the centre of the road.
Once rigged up I waded upstream from the bridge through some strange ‘snotty’ water and then found a nice stretch below a bend where there was a low overhanging tree.
I stood on the right bank about thirty metres downstream from the tree and watched.
I saw a good rise, from what appeared to be a surprisingly decent fish for this water ,just underneath the overhanging branch.
I kept watching and there it was again.
I had my 4 weight Loomis rod and matching Hardy reel, the first fly outfit I ever bought, from The Compleat Angler at Jindabyne.
( Actually the second- I bought a fly outfit at age 18 but didn’t persevere with it, and didn’t buy my second outfit until age 55 – just as my eyesight
was fading and I had to tie near invisible 4 pound fleurocarbon leader onto an impossibly small eye of a tiny hook. How I regret those lost years. )
I was using a small Royal Wulff with a short nymph dropper.
I had been lucky enough some years before to fish several times with the late great Swampy Plains and Upper Murray guide Mike Spry and he had most controversially told me that the Royal Wulff was the only dry fly I would ever need.
Why’s that I asked?
Because you can see it, he said.
And added, if it doesn’t work ,go down a size.
That advice had stood me in good stead in the Snowy’s and in Tasmania and New Zealand so I wasn’t about to go against it here.
My first cast, predictably was short.
My second cast , predictably got caught in the overhanging branch.
The trout rose again and I had to crawl through the bush to reach the tree and disentangle the fly.
I tied on another Royal Wulff and dropper and then, most unpredictably , my next cast sailed on under the branch and into the small rapid about 4 metres upstream. The Royal Wulff floated well for a second or too and then, just as it passed by the branch, where was it? Had it sunk or had it been taken?
I struck instinctively and there was this beautiful weight of a trout , spinning in the current as it darted downstream and then stopped opposite me near the far bank.
I gathered up my loose line and the fish darted towards me ,far too quickly for me to take up the slack, and then wrapped the leader around the rock at my feet. I reeled in . But the fish was gone.
I never even saw that trout but it was the best cast I had ever made so I wasn’t too disconsolate. But I was really, as I would so much have loved to see Dick’s face as I waded out with my river trophy.
There was only one thing for it. We repaired to the Derwent Bridge Hotel and ordered a beer and the meat pie and the mashed potato.


Barry’s Twilight Fumblings on the Swampy

by Graham Duff

Some years ago Barry and I used to regularly stay at Corryong and fish the local streams. After a few days fishing the Nariel, Thowgla, Indi and the stretch of the Swampy below Khancoban Station we decided it was time to try somewhere a little different. Our good friend in Corryong suggested we talk to the then owner of a store in Khancoban. So on the chosen day we decide after lunch in Corryong at one of the local hotels to head up to Khancoban and interview said gentleman. We enter the store and purchase supplies for later and then approach the owner. I tell him that Joan from Corryong has suggested that he might be prepared to let us fish a stretch of the Swampy above the pondage from his property. After some prolonged discussions it was agreed that we could fish on his property. Detailed instructions were provided for access to this area and as we were leaving we were asked if it was alright if he could come down and watch us when he got home. He was interested in flyfishing but hadn’t seen it being done before. I assured him that we would love to see him and show him some of the finer points.
Full of anticipation we head off with me driving and Barry navigating (no SatNav ). Well the 10km to this property took close on an hour thanks to our navigation system failing apparently due to Barry’s failing eyesight and my illegible hand writing. Finally arriving late afternoon at this magnificent property we drive to within 50m of the Swampy. We both rush to get our gear ready and then I ask Barry if he wants to go upstream or down. Barry decides down so I head upstream for the next hour or so catching an occasional nice little fish on beautiful water. With the light slowly beginning to fade I decide I better head back to the car and see how Barry is getting on.
Arriving back at our starting point I see Barry heading back towards me. On arrival I ask him how he went to be told that he hadn’t seen a fish and had no luck on the dry. I told him that I had success on a weighted nymph. Now the owner joined us and was keen to find out how we went. He then wanted to know what this nymphing business was so I explained it to him and was asked to demonstrate. We headed 20m upstream and I cast the nymph upstream and immediately hooked a fish which I landed and released much to our benefactor’s delight.
We then heard Barry call out that he has seen a rise back at our starting point so back we go. Sure enough a mixed hatch of caddis and duns has just commenced and there are a number of fish rising in front of us. I tell Barry to put either a Elk hair Caddis or a large dun pattern on and get into them. The owner and I sit down on the grassy bank and prepare to watch Barry do battle.
By this time the light is fading fast. Barry manages to cut his hopper pattern off and tries to undo a few windknots but without success. Next task is putting the new dry fly on. This seems to be taking a very long time and Barry suggests some bastard has put varnish in the eye of the hook so grabs another fly out of the box. After another 5 or 10 minutes he still hasn’t succeeded in tying the new fly on so ask him what is the problem.” I can’t seem to get the tippet thru the eye of the hook” Barry says. “It is getting dark and I can’t see properly”. “God hear that fish out there”. I suggest it might be a good idea to hurry up as the fish might be getting sick of waiting for him. “Bloody beauty I have got that tippet thru the eye and am going to tie it on now” Barry exclaims. I assume he would have had a great smile on his face but it was a bit too dark for me to see clearly.
Next thing we hear a lot of very bad language and Barry tells us that he has cut the leader instead of the tag end and stuff the rotten fish anyway. That was the end of the days fishing.


Not Once but Twice

by Wayne Harrison

Wake up look at the clock 3-30 bugger .
Switch position on the pillow yet again.must try to get more sleep. Wake up again from a dream. 4-15 Bugger !!. Alarm set for 4-45 finally goes off .
Quietly go down stairs put my Vogel’s toast in. Make a coffee and have a quick breakfast and start thinking off the day ahead fishing.
Pick up my mate at 5-30 and away we go up to a back country dream river .
About 2 hours later and a 16 kilometer shingle farm track we park and look down at this amazing river. Gear on and lunch in our packs down river we tramp looking into pools with fish looking very active . Resisting the urge to stop and fish we finally stop at 10am and turn around to fish up river.
Pool after pool with 2kilo plus fish eagerly rising to
Our stimulators. What a day
Then while playing a fish BANG !! My loop rod breaks on top section so somehow I manage to get the fish in and release it.
So out with the 6 piece pack rod that had never been used . Away we go again . Yet what happens.
Another nice take on the dry. A rather large rainbow jumping and shaking its head and you wouldn’t believe it . BANG ! This time the rod breaks just above the handle . So another hand line retrieved trout released.
So what does a man do with a handle and a 8 foot top? Get the Duct tape out and keep fishing .
And what a day it was . We probably landed and released over 20 good sized rainbows and had a story to tell . Thanks to loop and the other brand for replacement parts as well.


BigBig

by Doug Brooke

Big was a solid 4lber who sipped a stimulator drifted hard up against a rock ledge on the Mitta Mitta, out near Joker Flat. Once hooked he ran up to a tangle of timber that the last high water had dumped on the bend at the head of the pool. But I knew this tactic too well, if he gets in there its all over so I applied enough palm pressure to keep him short and turn him back into the pool, where my son Ian, now a young adult, but then 12 years old did the honours at the net.
He’s Big, is he Bigger than BigBig? Said Ian.
Nowhere near, I said.
So we called him Big, but he wasn’t as Big as BigBig. BigBig was a brown that came out of the Goulburn, on that long straight pool just up from the where Antony and Geoff and the boys at the fly fishing centre used to have their guiding business. He took a dry right on dusk, a stimulator tied fat and floating high, when the wind had died down and the pool was greasy calm and the light that yellow late summer glow and the air warm with the good insects buzzing around, not those bastards that bite you, the kind that just hover and let you know that all living things are out seeking either love or food.
I knew he was big because he put his head down and swam steadily upstream, pulling line and then backing off the reel and all the while I could feel his head steadily beating out a rhythm as he turned from side to side swimming upstream. No wiggle-wiggle here, but thump, thump, thump. And I just hang on and waited. He turned, I picked up line and he ran again more than a few times and eventually I had this truly magnificent 60cm brownie to hand, I took his photo, got him going again in the water and watched him swim away, with that buzzing tremble you get when on these occasions running through me.
It was 830pm when I got back to the car, when I rang home.
I caught a big fish just now, probably the biggest trout I’ve ever caught, I said to my wife.
Why are you so late? The tone said there was trouble up ahead.
Well, I was fishing. Caught a really nice one. It was beautiful out there, I had a great day. I’m still trembling.
Well your son’s in bed and you’ve missed him…………….Why don’t you care enough to call your own son before he goes to bed. Why aren’t you like other fathers?
What sort of father are you?
I recall everything in great detail up to this point but I can’t tell you how that conversation went from there, I hated how this day was ending. I probably just clammed up and let the tirade wash over me. The inevitable encore was a 2 hour drive home in disgrace and the cold shoulder – again – for what this time, 2 days?
When I showed Ian the photos of that Brownie, he was like “Aw that’s big, that’s really big. BigBig.”
Since then Ian and me have fished and fished and fished together. The Goulburn, Tullaroop, Little Snowy and Scrubby, Tyenna and Brumbys, Little, Middle, Bundarra, Rubicon and dozens of others. The best times we’ve had together have been on streams.
We catch our share of fish and now and then a good one comes along, each year Ian’s improved on his pb.
Getting close to BigBig dad.
Yeah, nice fish. Beautiful fish. What else can I say when inside I’m churning with pride and love and admiration for my son? Geez, I can barely breathe.


17 Pound Brownie!!

by Steve Flint

2019 and night fishing for browns at Hamurana – Lake Rotorua – NZ with friends Dean Bill and Hernan – it’s been tough going so Dean moves into the stream mouth to cut off any browns running up
You must realise that it’s so dark that you can’t see your hand in front off your face – so Hernan moves in towards Dean and a few casts later it hooks into a good fish and Hernan has a good few night doubles to his name
“I am in” he shouts out and he can’t control the fish and panic sets in as the fish runs towards Dean and Hernan shouts out “don’t move” and Dean agrees not to
Hernan is giving full commentary – “it’s gone left it’s going right – back to you Dean”
“How big” I shout out to Hernan “it’s my biggest ever” The excitement and stress can be heard in his voice as he struggles to contain the fish
Five pulsating minutes pass when Dean shouts out “It’s me Hernan I have your line”
Silence follows – no one dares to say anything or laugh – until Hernan shouts out “you bastard I thought I had a 17lbs brownie and I was imaging it stuff on my lounge wall”
Well we all laughed and we still talk about it to this day and as they say “priceless” 😂


A Hidden Journey

by Mitchell Green

Valleys and mountains carved by life itself
Home to God’s gift, who knew they could excel
Streams and rivers, the sound of God’s good song
The place of peace, to free from ones forlorn
The water so clear thou no need to pout
My calling love, the beauty that is trout
To have the gift to cast a willing fly
That feeling thou give, taking a small dry
Watching from your park, as a subtle rise breaks the glass
A hidden journey will only be from dusk to dark
My passion for the water, the fish it holds
Only adds to the ups and downs it beholds
The grasp fishing holds, not many know about
Go see for yourself, go catch a good trout.


Two Platypi

by Stewart Edwards

I decided to try my luck in the late afternoon in mid summer last year and drove to my favourite spot on the Tyenna River past Westerway in Tasmania.
Despite seeing a number of rising trout I failed to hook one.
In the River some 500 metres past the rail bridge I waded into the River avoiding the slippery rocks and spotted a fish on the far side of the River. Being a patient person, I stood still in the River with my legs apart to maintain my balance. I cast once without success and waited patiently again.
In the fading light as dusk drew, I looked down to see in the fading light a platypus swim between my legs; in not less that a minute another platypus, presumably the mate of the first one I saw, also swam between my legs.
I decided as dark was fast closing, to retreat to the River bank and carefully return to my car.
No fish however, a wonderful experience.
Despite returning to the River a number of occasions, I have not seen the platypi again, nor caught a fish.


A Light I Can Live With

by Paul Pavich

I am just tired of sticking a torch in my mouth to see what I’m doing. Laser surgery won’t help. That’s all I have to say. Tight Lines.


Quality Time

by Mick Chalker

The afternoon had finally arrived, we’d whiled away the midday heat lethargically taking care of chores around the camp, the morning had seen us golfing through the cow paddocks and playing totem tennis with cricket bats. Two dads with their kids, Nige and Joshua, myself and Clare, loving every minute of their annual fishing trip.
The two canoes set off communicating via a set of hand held radios. Josh clearly enjoyed sending blow by blow updates of all things fishing over the air waves and as the leading canoe updated navigation warnings for traversing the modest rapids we encountered. We were in drought again, preventing us from making the same pace down the river as previous years. It didn’t bother us greatly, we were in no rush, only that it robbed the kids both big and small of the pleasure the combination of a good canoe and a boiling rapid provided.
We’d caught a few fish, enjoyed a snack and a quick but refreshing dip along the way but as the sun slid behind the peaks of the great divide we realised we had work to do to make up for a slow passage. The kids were barely teenagers and unfamiliar with spending time on the river after dark. The two dads however, were in there element if a little under prepared. No torches, no headlamps but luckily a significant moon to shine on the water and identify the riffles and rapids ahead. Josh’s constant navigation updates over the radio helped but also destroyed the tranquillity so we went to radio silence. Josh maintained his updates regardless.
Clare was going ok up front, she trusted me and even though well out of her comfort zone was paddling enthusiastically when needed and hanging on tight as we collided with unseen boulders. There was plenty for me to do, Portage didn’t do justice to the style employed. At the tail of every pool we found the bottom with a bumping, sliding stop. Out I jumped with painter in hand, heaving the big red canoe down the river, stumbling and regaining my footing, almost falling but not quite going over time and time again. If only I had my favourite Knog headlamp with me I could see the way ahead. My old leather boots, a souvenir from fire brigade days were doing a great job of protecting my toes and keeping my ankles from rolling as I trudged downstream.
We finally arrived at the last big pool, the moon reflecting on the old cruiser still a couple of hundred meters away. Clare and I paddled steadily on, we could see Nige and Josh hauling out as the moon caught the wet sides of their canoe, Josh was trying to raise us on the radio to report their successful arrival at our destination, we yelled out “roger that” Josh answered back into the radio and signed off.
As we tightened the final ropes securing the canoes to the trailer we chatted about the adventure we had just undertaken, the kids were relieved just to have survived, Nige and I were happy to have had an opportunity to spend such an ideal spring evening in the great outdoors with our kids agreeing that leaving earlier and bringing our head lamps would have made life easier. When we finally checked the clock it had taken more than double the usual amount of time to traverse that section of the river.
Back at camp we dried our sodden boots and pruned feet by the camp fire, sleep wasn’t far away. A simple dinner of jaffle iron toasties, a cleansing ale for the dads, a soft drink for Clare and Josh. They’d have an adventure story to tell their moms when they got home but for now, it was off to bed to rest up and be ready, for tomorrow we would do it all again.


Ivan and the Electric Fence

by Alan Bulmer

It was late on a hot summer’s day in mid-February. The ground was still shimmering from the oppressive day time heat and everything was limply hanging out for the respite that would come with dusk. We were dressed in tee shirts and shorts but it made little difference. There was no escaping the heat radiating out from every riverside pebble and boulder. It wrapped us in a smothering blanket that made movement difficult.
Those of you familiar with fashion trends from the 1970’s would remember the fashion crime that was “Stubbies”. Shorts so short, that they struggled to contain even a modest package and clung to the buttocks in a most immodest way. Ivan liked Stubbies and was wearing his favourite pair whereas I, the painfully shy teenager, was wearing shorts that were still in two minds as to whether they were shorts or longs and had a hemline which covered the knees.
The sun was falling steadily as we headed off along the riverbank to our favourite pool. Headed off in my case, but charged off in Ivan’s. Whenever he got to the river the pattern was eerily similar. He tackled up with indecent haste and was off at brisk trot before I’d had time to catch my breath.
I was in my early teens at the time and life was one long daydream. Whereas Ivan was single minded in purpose I was drinking in the scenery and idly wondering about the composition of my next meal, even though we’d just eaten dinner. You can imagine the angst this caused with someone who was focussed and in a hurry to be somewhere.
He was 50 metres ahead of me before I knew it striding ahead purposefully. I dawdled along still trying to come to terms with the sudden size of my feet, which now coincidentally occupied size 11 gumboots. Somehow I managed to keep in touch with him and not lag further behind.
Suddenly he came to a halt and impatiently called to me to hurry up. He’d reached an electric fence that was strung hip high across the riverbank path and was kindly waiting for me to arrive. I then realised that he had placed his foot on it and was holding it hard against the ground with the tip of his left gumboot.
I sped up and stumbled my way to him which took a minute or two. He made some comment about how long it had taken me to get to him which simply went in one ear and straight out the other. I stepped over the fence and took a few steps past him to safety.
What happened next will live with me forever. He put his right foot over the wire and straddled the electric fence like a wishbone. The wire seeing its opportunity wiggled out from under his left toe and sprung upwards with incredible venom. It screamed past his calf and knee in a half a blink and before Ivan knew it the wire had wedged itself between his upper thigh and his left jewel aided, in no small part, by the cut of his Stubbies. Its progress halted the wire then began to play patter tennis with his left jewel and thigh as it vibrated from side to side.
I swear Ivan jumped two feet off the ground and executed the most perfect mid-air side roll that I’d ever seen. An Olympic judge would have raised a card with a 10 on it, of that I am sure.
Thankfully he hit the ground on my side of the fence and started to writhe about in agony clutching the front of his Stubbies. I asked him if he was OK and gathered, by the fact that one eye was rotating clockwise and the other anti-clockwise, that he was still too pre-occupied to discuss his predicament.
Fortunately five minutes later he was back on his feet and had regained a modicum of normal composure. I asked him if he still wanted to go fishing and he nodded his agreement and mumbled sure so I set off towards the river at a steady clip. For some reason he was slow to set off after me and when he did his gait was much slower than when we’d started.