A Couple of Big Whoppers
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A Couple of Big Whoppers

"You know how blokes that go fishing are always exaggerating the size of their catch" say’s Mick "Yeah most of them do." I replied. "Well I reckon, without stretching the truth, says Mick, that I caught a huge Cod back home one day, probably the biggest in Aussie," he added, as a few more of our section returned from wherever they’d been. Someone asked him "where did you catch it, and just how big was it Mick?"

"Well I was down at the river on my few hundred acres with some mates from the 1st Tour. We used to camp out for a few days every couple of months; we’d take young ‘Jacky’ with us as the water boy and he also made sure we had plenty of wood to keep the fire going for us. We’d give him a quid or two for pocket money".

"We’d set ourselves up better than just okay. Plenty of tucker, booze, bedding and a big 4 man canvas tent, a bit like these at Nui Dat without the sandbags. But most nights we’d just hang around the campfire unless it rained. I couldn’t play a guitar back then, still can’t; but one of the blokes wasn’t bad, he could even sing a bit after some lubrication. It was luxury, compared to 'scrub bashing' and the hootchies over here, and no little bugger taking pot shots at us either."

"We hadn’t caught much the first day so it was snags and baked beans on the Friday night. The next morning Jacky goes off with the water cans to get fresh water as usual. After a while I wondered what was keeping him as he still wasn’t back after a couple of hours. I didn’t worry too much as one of the blokes reminded me that Jacky probably just went walkabout for a bit. Wouldn’t be the first time, so ‘no worries’ I thought. He’ll turn up when he’s ready. In any case, we had enough water for a brew."

"We finished off the snags for lunch & knocked over a couple more from the ice box when I thought I’d see if I could catch some dinner for us. Must have been about 4 o’clock and still quite hot as I left the shade of the big willow tree."

"I’d only been fishing for ten or so minutes when it felt like I’d snagged my line. For a moment I felt it ‘give’ a bit then pull back again. Jeez, maybe a good size fish. No more damn baked beans tonight, I was thinking as I tried to reel him in." It was now putting up a hell of a fight and I could feel that it was a 'biggen'”.

"I struggled with it for quite a while and even yelled out to the fellas for some help, but I guess they were too busy drinking because nobody came to give me a hand. Finally I got him landed on the bank when a couple of the blokes eventually turned up. We were staring in disbelief, like I said, maybe the biggest Cod ever caught. It was bloody huge and flopped around for ages until I decided to ‘bleed’ it -- You know, just like you would a big bullock.”

"I started to gut and clean it there and then by the river. And do you know what, out jumped ‘Jacky’, coughing, spitting and gasping for air, and maybe a bit pale around the gills too, but otherwise he was okay. When I got over the initial excitement, I realised that ‘Jacky’ was still carrying those two water cans -- that will give you some idea as to just how big that fish really was."

I thought that I’d try and even things up a bit so I said to the group of blokes, although I was challenging Mick, "I used to do a bit of fishing myself and reckon the Cod I caught on the Murray a few years ago would have weighed in about the same size as yours Mick, maybe even bigger."

"To tell you the truth I was a bit worse for wear at the time, and listening to the races at Randwick on my new transistor radio. I was just lying on the riverbank, under the shade of a tree trying to recover from a late Friday night session. I felt like I was waiting for a bite that I was never going to get.

I’d also placed a few bets on the last 3 races and so far the first two had run nowhere. I don’t have much patience for fish that don’t bite at the best of times, and even less by the time the 3rd horse was also unplaced."

"Bugger the fish and stuff the horses, I said to nobody in particular. Then in my frustration, I kicked the radio and the damn thing ended up in the river. I tried to recover it with the fishing rod, then attempted to drag it back to the bank with a small branch from a tree, but it just sank out of site."

"A few days later I went back, this time sober and no bets either so it must have been midweek. In any case I threw in a line, and as usual, nothing. Just as I was about to call it a day I thought I had a bite, and I did too! It was putting up a big fight so I gave it a bit of slack for a while. Then I reeled it in, bit by bit, until I landed him."

"It was big! I mean really huge and making an unusual noise. Just like you did Mick, I bled him, then just as I gutted him I realised what that funny sound was. Do you know, that fish had swallowed my radio, and guess what, it was still working, I even had to turn the volume down a bit."

I was beginning to feel that maybe my yarn was about even with Mick’s. As I was watching him for a reaction, he was checking to see that the last of our audience had left. Then he said, "how come your transistor radio was still working"? So I said "how come Jacky didn’t drown, Mick?"

Mick thought for a while and eventually said to me, "listen mate, maybe we did go a bit overboard. How about in future we don’t get so carried away. If you’ll agree that your radio wasn’t working, I’ll kill off Jacky."

"And another thing, says Mick, when you get back home, don’t go telling these yarns up in Queensland, because they’re a sceptical mob and probably wouldn’t believe you."