Dear friends – FINALLY after moving to Tassie five months ago, I have been allowed to go out on our boat, Coldstream! It took a lot of whining, begging and tail wagging when I saw Coldstream being prepared, fishing rods and bait packed, and beanies at the ready for cold heads. In a clever moment, I ran into the garage and dragged out my own beautiful yellow life jacket and finally Klady got the hint.
Feathers, if you come out with us today there’ll be no swimming.
No matter, I just knew I would enjoy a few hours on the water, sniffing the fresh air and keeping a watch out for those gigantic diving pacific gulls who follow the boat and swoop down to closely examine anything that is caught.
And it was great; sunshine, a little breeze and barely any swell. When we were moving, Klady and I cuddled together in my favourite spot up the front where it always feels as if you are skimming over the water.
The D'Entrecasteaux Channel is a huge body of water that runs almost from Hobart to Cockle Creek, (the very tip of Tasmania) and this is where Klady and SirD love to go for a few hours of exploring and fishing – and hopefully in the warmer months - swimming and snorkelling. Of course, I’m also expecting to tag along but only when the base water temperature finally rises above 16 degrees in summer, but today I just wanted to a boat ride.
Once launched, we eventually stopped in the middle of the Channel between Bruny Island and the mainland for some drifting. With so few boats out in winter, there is hardly any chance of running into any other vessel and sitting there and gently rocking, I totally enjoyed the sunshine and the occasional sniff of stinky bait.
On this trip, Klady insisted on bringing a tape measure to ensure that any legally sized fish were kept. I must have counted at least 37 small flathead being caught, only to see them thrown back into the water.
Gee those fish wiggle and fight and it is no wonder they are called the crocodiles of the sea!
They have spikes all over the body and the most enormous mouth (a bit like my friend, Bruce the smiling Staffy). While it’s Klady’s job to get the hooks out and throw the fish back into the water, she also faces being pierced and spiked and I understand it is pretty usual to have flathead battle wounds covering her hands.
But this time we were lucky. Finally, a catch of five good sized ‘flatties’.
Guess what I’m having for dinner?
Of course, I had a good sniff as each flattie was wrangled into the eski and with every successful catch I announced my approval with a series of ear-shattering barks.
I also made sure to keep my snout away from the spikes – no fishing wounds for me please!
Finally it was time to head for home but on the way Klady and SirD decided to use up all the bait. Drifting close to the mainland shore, in went the fishing lines.
Immediately Klady’s rod bent almost into half and you could see her excitement and the thought bubble that announced here is an enormous flattie. Slowly, slowly she brought in the line and hanging off the top hook was a small flathead. But the bottom hook and sinker was firmly embedded in what I was told was a HUGE red octopus. I tried to run to it but Klady was shouting, SirD help me – what do I do. I’ve never caught an octopus.
Less than helpfully he said: Throw it back.
I snuck up to the octopus to have a closer look and barked helpfully that it was wiggling, rolling over and almost turning inside out.
By this stage, Klady had released the little fish and now addressed Octo.
Octo's tentacles were stuck on the seats and she was able to take out the hook and then he was free. Yes, free to crawl over the boat and I could see that it was coming for me! Klady took a deep breath, picked up Octo and threw him back into the water, where he swam on the surface straight past a totally disinterested giant gull (maybe he was too big) before diving for the depths.
Let’s have one final cast, and then head home.
Klady brought up yet another flattie and hooked on the sinker was Octo 2; significantly smaller, about the size of Klady’s hand, and so I lunged in for a closer look.
I took one deep sniff, then another and suddenly I was attacked. Octo 2 had latched onto my snout. I whined, tried to yelp and bark but my mouth was firmly fastened by sticky tentacles. Rubbing with my paws didn’t make any difference. Help me, help me I signalled as loudly as possible.
Klady came and slowly removed each tentacle from my face, wrapped Octo 2 in her hand and put him back into the water.
This was my very own Pirates of the Caribbean Davy Jones moment.
I now understand how uncomfortable Davy Jones must feel to have huge, wandering, uncontrollable, sticky tentacles all over his face. It also made me wonder – how does Davy Jones blow his nose?