Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 54 - Summer (Dec-Feb) 2013/14 > The Fish are Biting (by Pr George Porter)

The Fish are Biting

by Pr George Porter

The year was 1955.  I was 16 years of age. Our family lived in a little village of mainly of Seventh-day Adventist banana and small crop growers. The village was located at a place affectionately known as "Ophir Glen," in Upper Burringbar.  Having driven vehicles for a few years I could now drive to town legally. Fortunately there were not many vehicles on the roads in those days.  We jointly owned an old 1926 Chevrolet  tourer.  We needed reliability, so later in the year we invested in a 1955 Holden ute. 

My brother Robert and I owned a small plot of bananas. We also grew small crops such as tomatoes and beans and peas.  By now we were independent from our father. However, we did help him with his plot from time to time.  We also laboured regularly for other plantation owners who needed work done on their land.

We lived about 7 kilometres from the town of Burringbar, which was on the old Pacific Highway some  14 kilometres from Murwillumbah.  The main railway station was situated at Burringbar.   In those days there was a general store, butcher's shop, bakery and motor garage which included a petrol bowser.  It was also the headquarters for A.J. Mills and Sons transport Company.  They owned a few old ex- army Blitz wagons and Bedford trucks. They used these to transport the grower's produce to the station where it was loaded onto produce trains three times a week.  It was hauled off to Casino and on to southern markets.  The manager of the trucking company was a Mr. Stan Ducat.  Stan was a quiet man . He was also a polite and obliging gentleman.   He enjoyed fishing  whenever he had the chance to get away from the business.  We always knew when it was the best time to go fishing because Stan would inform us, "boys, the fish are biting."

As usual we had started work at daylight. In January that was soon after 4.00 am.  It was a scorching hot day.  When the sun reached its hottest at around 2.00 p.m., we decided to down tools  and head to the coast to do some fishing.  We had been told by none other than Stan that, "the fish are biting."

Now we were real professional fishermen. We had the very best fishing gear that we could afford.  Off we went down the hill from the plantation to collect our gear.  One large brown glass empty beer bottle each, with about  25 metres of nylon line wound around it.  A small empty tobacco tin containing several fish hooks of various sizes.  A second larger tin contained lead sinkers.  Bottles and tins were readily available close to the rail siding where they had been discarded. With all the equipment tucked into the old Chev, it was all stops out for Hastings Point. In those days, we usually travelled via Burringbar, Mooball, then on to Pottsville, where we followed the coast to Hastings Point.

Two doors south of Hastings Point's only store, lived Jack Jarrett with his elderly mother and father.   Their home was home away from home for us every Saturday.  We had introduced these folk to Christianity. Every Saturday afternoon we visited with them to conduct a Church Service and children's Sabbath school.  Now Jack was an expert local authority as to where the fish were, what kind they were and what bait was the most appropriate for a successful catch. We were anxious to find Jack to get the up-to-date fishing information.

Jack was so pleased to see us. "Hi,fellas.  Flathead are biting in Cudgera Creek.   Whiting and swallow tails are plentiful if you fish of the main beach.  Here is an old chunk of stinking dead shark you can have to catch worms for bait.  You should do well as the tide is perfect at this point of time."

Thanking Jack we set off with our primitive equipment together with the putrid hunk of shark on a string.  We also carried with us two old hessian sugar bags.  These were to be used for bagging the catch.  Confidently we hurried off on foot towards the bridge across Cudgera Creek.  About half a kilometre to the east of the bridge the creek entered the Pacific Ocean.  Once over the bridge we set off over the sand dunes toward the surf.  It was a glorious afternoon with a cool soft north easterly breeze blowing off the sea.   The smell of the sea was exhilarating making us hungrier than ever for fresh fish.  Finally, we reached the edge of the coastal dunes where we stopped to survey the light surf and the gentle splash of the incoming waves.  As we scanned the sea behind the wave breaking line we noticed several large deep depressions in the sand bank under the sea water. 

"George," my brother Robert called, "Look in those deep depressions.  See all the fish feeding. This is our day. Lets go and trawl for bait."    Dragging the hunk of putrid shark flesh over the sand as the waters receded had a magic effect.  Sea worm heads popped up everywhere. We had soon canned more than enough.  Hooks baited, we cast out beyond the waves directly into the deep depressions where all the flashing bodies were hungrily competing for a meal.  Success was instant for both of us. As fast as we could re-bait our hooks and cast out, the fish would hook into a fresh worm meal.  We were so excited. This fishing and feeding frenzy continued until our bags were full.   We had caught over ninety fish including whiting and yellow tail swallow tail varieties. 

During our enjoyable time, we had both noticed a man come over the dunes. He was loaded down with a huge rod and large fishing basket over his back.  He was several hundred metres to the north of us. We had noticed that he was not landing any fish.   We waved him to come to our spot.  It did not take him long to accept our call.  As he came closer we noticed that he was struggling to hump his huge cane basket with all his gear including his large rod and reel.

I said to my brother Robert, "Can you believe it? That is Stan Ducat. Look at all his new gear."   

"Gidday, boys," he called.  "I have been watching you haul in bags full of fish.  How did you do it with those beer bottle lines?  Where did you buy your bait?  I am so embarrassed. My wife bought me all this new gear for my birthday and it is useless.  Look what you have done with beer bottles.  How did you know the fish were here?"  He was so full of questions. He was so noticeably embarrassed. We felt for him, as he was one of the district's seasoned fishermen.

"Pretty simple Stan," I answered.  "We stood on the dunes and surveyed the shoreline and noticed the deep pools in the sand full of fish. You must fish where the fish are feeding if you want fish, Stan. You just happened to be too far north. Here Stan, have our left over worms and the hunk of shark.  It will save you buying bait. Have a happy birthday.  The fish are biting Stan."   Stan was smiles all over, and kept mumbling, "My wife wasted money on all this posh gear and all I needed was a bottle line and a hunk of putrid shark.  Thanks fellas."

We watched as Stan cast into the pool. Instantly his expensive rod bent under the struggling weight of a large swallow tail.  A happier Stan Ducat we had never seen before.  We said farewell and headed up over the dunes, stopping to have one long look at Stan hauling in fish one after the other.

One huge lesson we learnt that day.  It is not so much the quality of the gear you own.  It depends a whole lot on where the fish are and if they are feeding.  It also helps if you have fresh smelly worms farmed with putrid shark flesh.  The watchword could be, "quality bait."

I am certain Jesus had these things in mind when He said, "I will make you fishers of men."  So, the best bait for spiritually hungry humanity is the lovely precious Jesus Christ, the theme of Holy Scripture, "Whom to know is life eternal."  I am hooked on Him.  If you are spiritually hungry, hook into His bait.  His words and life are the true bait.  His words are Life and Truth.

This article is Copyright © 2013 by George C Porter.  Used by permission.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 54 - Summer (Dec-Feb) 2013/14 > The Fish are Biting (by Pr George Porter)