I looked over at the other people fishing and they were waving at me. I waved back to these friendly souls and carried on
You will know by now if you have read my travel blogs, that I have a love and respect for all things Australian.
My next story is about an encounter that we had with the owner of a fishing tackle shop in the beautiful town of Albany.
The town is steeped in history, dating back from the very early 1800’s. Obviously compared to the UK, Albany – and indeed Australia – is relatively a baby. My parents live in a home in Lincolnshire that was built in the 1600’s, and when I mentioned this to some Aussies, it blew them away.
Albany used to be a whaling station, but it closed in the 1970’s.
Today, Albany boasts being an excellent spot for fishing as it offers protection from prevailing winds from the east and west, as Albany’s beaches face in different directions. The sea around Albany is sheltered, which means that you don’t need a boat or a 4-wheel drive to enjoy fishing.
We came to Australia knowing nothing about fishing. After a few lessons from my brother-in-law, we learned the basics and were lucky on a couple of occasions to ‘catch a feed’.
Fishing off the jetty in Albany left us with empty hooks. We tried several different types of bait after asking for suggestions from the locals who were fishing alongside us – and were reeling in fish, whereas we weren’t…
Pillies, worms, prawns, squid, bread… you name it we tried it, but to no avail.
We were driving back to our campsite and noticed a lovely old building that housed a fishing tackle shop. We decided to go in and ask in there what advice they could give us. After all, they MUST know a thing or two about fishing!
Walking in we were greeted wall to wall with a huge array of rods, nets, tackle, bait…you name it, they had it. There was Ol’mate sat behind his counter. He looked in his late 60’s early 70’s, and we thought he definitely looked like a fishing sage. He told us that once upon a time he was quite a famous fisherman, he had appeared on television series in the 80’s.
This was going to be the man we needed to pick the brains of – and stock up on whatever we needed to help with our mission.
We explained how we were fishing, the bait we were using etc.
“Can you please give us a helping hand?” my partner asked.
The reply: “There’s got to be fish there you dickhead. Don’t just expect they are there and will bite. You dickheads just throw a line in and expect results”
Erm… did he just call us dickheads? Really? We only asked for advice, whilst holding about $200 worth of potential purchases!
“You dickheads just f*** around, don’t read anything, and expect results”
We explained that we had watched various YouTube channels, learned how to tie our lines and sinkers, what fish may be there etc…
I have to say, customer service was NOT on the top of his priority list!
By this point I was also reluctant to give him our custom. We have been called names before, but it was in a jovial way. This dude was just outright rude, but part of me also found this grumpy old git amusing. He pointed to some aniseed burley (something you throw in the water to attract fish), told us to buy that, try it out and come back another time.
We did as we were told and left the store. As we got into the car we looked at each other and burst out laughing. What an encounter. Yet another story and memory to keep about this magical land.
If you are wondering, the burley DID work. It attracted some fish, they ate it and skipped around our hooks.
We googled fishing stores in Albany and saw that there was a BCF (tag line: Its BCF’ing good!) We were met by lovely, helpful people here (we recounted our story, and apparently Ol’mate is like that with everyone – we weren’t special. Haha)
After their advice, we caught some whoppers the following day!
We drove to a small, secluded beach near Cheynes called Back Beach. You could only access it with a four-wheel drive vehicle. It was a single-track sand road and was super exciting to manoeuvre through. We saw that there were already a couple of people fishing to one side, so we drove to the other and parked the car up a sand bank. We threw in our lines and waited. I decided mine wasn’t far enough out, so I waded waist deep into the blue. The water was lovely. I looked over at the other people fishing and they were waving at me. I waved back to these friendly souls and carried on. A few moments later my line tugged hard. I flicked my rod to hook my fish and started to reel it in. It fought back. It took me from side to side, so I started to walk backwards whilst still reeling in. I eventually got out of the water and could see my prize on the end of my line. I had caught my first Australian salmon! I reeled him in and unhooked him. By this time 20 minutes had passed, and the other fishermen had come on over to us to see what I had caught.
After proudly showing my salmon they said “Jeez, we thought you’d landed the bronzer!”
“No,” I said “The Gold!”
“Nah, you crazy pom chick, the bronzer – The Bronze-whaler shark we were warning you about. We waved to let you know he was patrolling the water…”
Oops! Brown trouser moment – almost!
We looked into the waves, and sure enough, from the beach you could make out this huge dark swimming and eating machine patrolling his sea! We guestimated he was about 2-3 metres in length!
Me (In my best Australian accent): “Yeah, when a chicks gotta line fight, and knows that there’s something on the end for a feed, shes gonna go for it. Shark nil, me one!”
They laughed. “Good on yer! You’ll do for me!”
Going back to our first encounter with Ol’ mate and his ‘advice’ -throughout the rest of the trip, whenever we went fishing and came home empty handed, we used to look at each other and say in unison “There’s got to be fish there, you dickhead!” and toast Ol’mate with a bottle of Great Northern Super Crisp.