yesterday afternoon John says to me
would you like to go tailor fishing?
he is surprised because I don’t often go.
mostly John likes fishing off the rocks and I am not comfortable with that
but beach fishing I figured I could give it a go.
and fishing for tailor for a specific is unusual
mostly he fishes for fish any fish
and here he is saying lets go get some tailor
I am even keener when I learn it is happening at dawn.
he checks out the tides and monday morning at dawn on an incoming tide is chosen.
he has to go for a bike ride right then and there to check out the sea
coming home to tell me he has a good feel about the gutter at Cuttagee ,
looks up the weather forecast and …
I wake, it is dark but I can hear him rattling around in the kitchen
I get up ,it is 4.45 AM
not yet a glimmer of light.
I make some parties which translates to flatbread in this house,
flour egg salt olive oil and water.
roll out and cook briefly on Stanleys hot plate.
sooo good,especially with the hommous I made yesterday.
we made a thermos and left.
smack bang in the middle of Wandella road we brake hard to avoid a wombat not yet full grown
stunned by our lights and looking distinctly mangy.
I have heard about some mange medicine that you can if you can put on them that will clear it.
worth a go for these amazing creatures.
sailing along thru the darkened valley
escorted by Venus Jupiter the Pleiades and the Saucepan.
a soft grey light is creeping into the day,
we stop at Bridge Motors to buy a pack of pilchards
I wait in the car.
John asks about tailor
the guy says no no tailor around and the beach is not much good, needs a good windy blow to stir it up a bit.
oh well John says maybe today will be our lucky day.
a tailor requires a 3 hook rig, and I watch in almost light as John puts the bait on.
the first throw into the gutter in the middle of Cuttagee beach and a bite straight away
the rod bends taut, a bit of fast winding goes on and on all the while walking backwards up the the beach
until bingo, a fish flops out of the sea and onto sand.
second throw in, same thing
come on , your turn,
So I take the rod and follow the step by step instructions;
walking backwards rod up high winding winding faster slower
the rod sticking into my belly my arms aching with the effort,
the fish running and jumping and then another salmon bigger than the first lands.
not tailor but salmon.
hello I say, thank you.
I am grinning John is grinning.
beautiful sleek silvery grey pearlescent bodies
pale yellow eyes , mouths gasping at the shock of meeting air.
it is a good idea to bleed them out straight away
John tells me, adding, some people wont eat them.
that becomes my job
and I am confronted with the responsibility of taking of a life
to feed me , to feed our family
and I am grateful for the experience.
whispering sweet words of gratitude to the spirit of the salmon
I cut their throats.
this is not a story for vegans
but hunters will understand the thrill.
John baits up again and again until the pack is done
and the excitement of the waves booming racing in to reclaim the beach
the sea eagle flying over head just out of arms reach and finally the sun,
among dark clouds a bold orange orb rises up out of the ocean and bathes us in merciless brightness.
the last fish caught ,number six and the biggest ,my arms now beside themselves with exhaustion from the chase and the strength required to haul these spirited creatures out of their world into mine.
John sits down with a cuppa while I take on getting the hook out of a flapping fishes mouth.
shshshshhshhh shhh I say, my body jumping and shooing when it thrashes around trying to keep myself out of hooking range.
I put my boot on it to hold it steady and wiggle the hook around.
not happening .
I’ll do it, John says
I have another go and another , eventually it slips out .
I watch the degutting process happy to be uninvolved in that bloody affair.
they are washed in the sea
and bagged up for the trip home.
it is not yet 9 o clock
and we have caught our breakfast our dinner,
a fish for Carole, I can hear her squealing already.
such bounty such beauty
I am very blessed
and then I am sitting at the kitchen table
Kingston beside me
eating fish together
he likes lemon and salt too.
And finally in the afternoon,
sun pouring in thru the glasshouse ,
fish head soup puttering along on stanley
“and they came in the night to steal the sea’s children”.
well I guess we did at that.