The Perils of Possum Point is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between persons, organisations or events described here and actual persons, organisations or events is purely unintentional.

Goin' Fishin'

One of the great objectives of Ned's escape to the bush was fishing. He didn't know a great deal about fishing, but counted it a fine thing to do, since so many people said that it was. And here in Possum Point, there were people who were actually doing it. You could go down to the beach at any time and find from one to a dozen older fellows with very long fishing poles, awaiting the glistening treasures of the deep.

Accordingly, Ned went down to Brogan's Trading Store a little bit along the way, and bought himself a longish used rod with a reel that looked like it had been chewed. All of the bearings had also, apparently, fallen out.

"...well, I'll tell you what," said Brogan, "I'll just throw in one of these lures, and you'll be certain to catch all the fish that you want."

Somewhat satisfied with his purchases, Ned returned home to plan his fishing expedition.

Now, the exact time to fish seemed to be a matter of great importance. The locals said "an hour and a half before high tide. Or, after high tide." So he bought a book of the tides. This seemed likely, until a Maori fellow confided that "the best time is when the moon is just overhead, or just underneath." This, too, sounded plausible.

But then, he came upon a passage in a magazine that said "the greatest secret is that the fish bite on an incoming low tide." This also seemed reasonable. "Never with a Nor'easter," explained the manager of the local dairy store where he bought his packaged frozen "genuine squid" bait.

"Well, I'll tell you," said an old chap, returning from the beach with a long pole and an empty pail, "the real time for good fishing is just before the sun comes up. Or, alternatively, just before it goes down."

This was all quite helpful. But an even older gentleman said "the point is, of course, not to catch fish but to admire the view."

So, discounting all of the advice, Ned headed down to the beach--a distance of at least fifty meters from his home--at around five-ish when the tide was somewhere in the middle, the moon was not around, and it was neither the beginning nor the ending of the day. He laid out his things, loaded up the hook, cast carefully into the waves, then relaxed.

No sooner had he crouched down with the pole when there was a shuffling sound behind him and John's tiny dog, Glubglub, lunged out of the brush, carrying off all of his bait. He was followed shortly by John, who said "Sorry about that, and what are you out and fishing this time of day? Do you expect to catch anything, well, I suppose not, but I'm off to catch Glubglub, so talk later I suppose." He strode on in the direction in which the dog had disappeared.

Now, when Ned had arrived, he had found himself all alone. Soon, however, another fisherman appeared just a few meters down. Ten minutes later, there was another one, and yet another. Within a very short time, the beach was dotted with fishermen throwing their lines out into the water in the hopes of a piscene dinner.

From this, Ned gathered that he had selected the right time, so he concentrated more fiercely upon the fishing, pulling up on the line every time had something seeming like a bite. But, in the end, all he drew out was a long strand of kelp. Being that the bait was now gone, he packed up and left.

As he walked up the bank, he came across another fisherman.

"Catch anything?" he asked.

"Not a thing," said the other.

"I suppose it must be the right time to be fishing, because everyone is doing it."

"Well, I think it must be. I saw someone fishing here myself, and it seemed to me that, if someone was fishing on the beach, it must be time to go fishing."

Ned realized then what had filled the beach. He had been seen fishing, so others went fishing, so there were more who thought it must be time to go fishing, and so forth.

"Wasn't it you who told me that the object wasn't to catch fish at all?" said Ned.

"Indeed I did."

"Just checking," said Ned.

Before he had reached home, John and Glubglub caught up with him. "The real problem is that you're not getting the bait out far enough. Now, you could use a kite for that, and I've seen it done, or there might be some kind of rocket thing that would do just as well, though with a rocket you don't know what you're getting into."

"A bait rocket," thought Ned, "Now that might be just the thing."

Before taking this course, however, Ned decided to seek the advice of Trevor McGill, the neighborhood guru.

He entered the Garden of Paradise and Earthly Delights, which is what Trevor called his cottage. The holy man had a long grey beard, stained with tobacco, and he reeked of herbal scent, old cigarettes, cannabis and Petulia oil.

"The fish are Yang," intoned Trevor. "Thus, they are of the female kind." His eyes crossed slightly, "They reach their ascendancy...that is to say, they tend toward the surface...when Venus is visible. Which is to say...," he drew long upon his pipe, "I forget. But clearly there is a principle here. Which would involve…female things. It is all a question of Yang. It is a cosmic matter, involving the water signs. Pisces, in fact. Which brings up a number of very distinct questions. So, in other words…if you could lend me a dollar or so, it would be greatly appreciated and probably help your cause."

Ned accepted this advice in the spirit in which it was intended. It seemed at least as plausible as the other explanations. He uncrossed his legs, arose from the overstuffed pillow, thanked Trevor, and left.

Clearly, fishing was a complicated business. It was a mystery how anyone might catch anything at all. A boat was possibly needed. Either that, or one might go out to a river, instead of the shore. But perhaps there was still a way. He returned to the trading store.

"A larger rod might do you well," said Brogan, enthusiastically. "The rod I sold you was only three meters long. This one here is five meters. You could cast a very long way with a five meter rod."

"I suppose so," said Ned.

"Then, you’ll want some of these special sinkers. Have the right sinker, and it’s magic. Shoot right out there to the good water."

Ned bought the rod and the sinkers. The rod came apart in five sections. When he got it back home again, he could only make three of the sections connect together. He tried oiling the sockets so they would fit together, but they fell off. When he attempted to glue them back in place, the sections splintered.

Ned shrugged. Perhaps someday there would be a fish. Perhaps not. But the sun was beginning to set, and another day was done. The thought of fishing for his fish and growing his chips receded. Maybe he could raise chooks, instead. But that is another story.

 Copyright 1996, 1997 Brian J. Dooley