Gone fishing and a flathead getting nasty with Bernie.


Everyone knows that taking the hook out of a flathead needs to be done with a glove on. The spines can inflict a pain you will never forget. If taking a hook out from a flathead is bad, imagine getting a flathead in your shorts! Yet, this is what happened many years ago. Please get a bit closer to your screen.

I am not sure if the Kathmandu trousers would  prevent the sting of the venomous flathead fish spines but at my age I don’t go around to test dorsal fins anymore.  But during those days, no sea too rough, no sky too high!  The poetry of the sea and fishing had its attractions. The pull of the sea. Hemmingway knew. We were young and it was easy to arrange  a fishing boat to take us out to the sea for a day. We lived at Sydney’s Balmain’s waterfront and fish were never far away.

We were about one hour out of Sydney’s Harbour Heads in mid-ocean. The sonar on the boat struck fish. All of us came prepared. Our fishing lines were baited  and soon we were pulling them in. Lots of fish, mainly bream and reef fish. Good Fishing needs  good lubrication and brown long necks by the case were neatly parked near our burley buckets. Nothing beats sipping brown ale straight from the bottle. Pulling in a big one does encourage drinking beer. It was so exciting. Fishing and a cold beer at 6am with the sun just getting up at mid-summer is as good as it will ever get. We all knew that then. It was so many years ago. I remember it so well and we were young. The swell was kind that day and rolling sweetly. The crew reasonably sober still, but not for long.

I know that as one gets older, memories hold us at ransom. The future is likely to be shorter than our past. And possibly less memorable. The ‘flathead in shorts’ fishing trip surely deserves to be retold and memorised rather than the ongoing ‘body corporate issue’ or the Tony Abbott’s episode. So , bear with me a little longer.

It reached a stage where our buckets were getting filled with fish when suddenly someone was crawling on the deck of the trawler. It was Bernie, a slightly overweight mate of ours. He kept clutching his crutch. Nearby was a flathead flailing about. He wanted a hospital badly and Bernie was stone sober. No kidding. He was in pain.

The fishing trawler had lifted anchor and was just floating about. As Bernie was pulling in yet another fish. It  had landed on his chest, in grabbing it, had slipped in his oversized shorts. I mentioned in my previous post about a barramundi in trousers, no doubt as a sub-conscious reference to what had really happened.

Bernie wanted home and a hospital badly. The flathead had done its job. It thrashed about inside Bernie’s shorts, snapping to the left and the middle but mainly in the centre before poor Bernie  pulled it out. It took just seconds. Flatheads don’t like to be hooked. Bernie was in agony and spewing brown ale. He was seriously crook as Rookwood. The crew knew what to do and headed back to harbour.  The flathead was put in Bernie’s bucket. Why waste a good fish?

The venom had worked its way out by the time we arrived back at  Balmain wharf. Bernie had cheered up  remarkably. He did not want to go to hospital. He even helped all with the scaling and gutting of the fish. It is a credit to all True Blue Aussies (which Bernie was) that nothing ever daunts them.  It was a great day. Thanks for the memory, Bernie.

No sea too rough.


9 Responses to “Gone fishing and a flathead getting nasty with Bernie.”

  1. Dorothy brett Says:

    Another great well written story


  2. Yvonne Says:

    It’s times like this I enjoy being a girl!


  3. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Yikes, I’m cringing, and I’m not even a man. This is another perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction. If we wrote this in a book, no one would ever believe it could happen. But Bernie knows better!


  4. auntyuta Says:

    Hilarious! Great story. Remarkable recovery of Bernie. 🙂


  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Oh my! Poor Bernie. Funny as it is, I hope no one laughed at him.


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