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FISHING WITH GEORGE
George Karpany was the fisherman to beat all fishermen. I had never seen anyone catch fish like he could.
‘Bruce, come around Saturday morning and I will take you fishing,’ George issued an invitation to me.
‘I don’t know, George, I’m not a fisherman.’ I was very doubtful about the expedition although I knew I’d enjoy George’s company.
‘Come on, we’ll go out in my boat,’ George was grinning as if he had a secret weapon.
‘OK. I’ll come.’
George dropped anchor just off some willows growing along the riverbank at Berri. We threw in our lines. George hauled fish in hand over fist. I hauled in zero hand over fist.
‘Try my bait,’ George teased. Not a bite.
‘Hey, you should have used more black shoe polish before you came out,’ George was enjoying himself at my discomfort. Zero fish!
Tell you what,’ said George, grinning like the proverbial Cheshire, ‘change places with me and use my line.’
So we changed places and I took his line. Zero fish! His bag was full. He caught fish like there was no tomorrow. I came home with a bag full of fish that I hadn’t caught – they had all got away. No, they never even nibbled my bait. It was George who had caught enough for him and me both.
One Sunday morning when we arrived for church, George ducked out of the shack, (George was a bean-pole of a man, and the shack had not been built for tall people).
‘Come with me,’ he pointed with his thumb over his shoulder, ‘got something to show you.’
I followed, mystified as to what George wanted to show me. He busily pulled in a heavy line; on the end was a 60 pound Murray cod. The biggest fish I’d ever seen. Wow! Did that fish have a mouth.
‘Got this one tethered until the cod season opens on Monday,’ he confided proudly. He dropped the line and the fish disappeared into the muddy water.
One Saturday afternoon Frank and I decided to take a few hours off from work and go fishing with our families. The worms had taken time off as well and we couldn’t find any. Frog hunting under stones and bark didn’t find them at home either. Eventually, we found a log just below the Berri pumping station from which to fish. We threw in our lines and sat down to wait and wait and wait… Coming up river in a row boat, we recognised George.
‘How you getting on boys, getting any fish?’ he called out.
‘Nah! A few bites that’s all,’ Frank had to admit. George shipped his oars, he rowed his boat facing frontward not backward as white people do, grabbed a big callop out of the boat, hit it on the head with a shifting wrench and threw it to Frank.
‘Here’s one for dinner,’ he chuckled.
‘No, no,’ Frank objected, ‘we can’t take your fish, you want to sell them.’
‘Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty,’ and George pulls up what he calls a pond made of wire netting. It was full of fish. ‘I’ve got another one of these down there by that log.’
My life of fishing ended there and then. It seemed more sense to do what I was good at, fishing for men. The fish and I now RIP.