Chain reaction to shooting the breeze

THE controversial “skipper’s ticket” debacle started way back, essentially sparked by the formalisation of the squid industry.

Many of the skippers were salt-of-the-earth men with little schooling, but with many years of hands-on experience. Most started at the bottom and worked their way up to skippering these craft.

However, they had to acquire licenses to skipper these craft and many were not capable of writing an exam, so an oral exam was negotiated to determine their competency.

During one such exam the examiner asked a skipper: “While on anchor and the wind starts blowing, what do you do?” The skipper replied: “You shoot out a little extra anchor chain.” The examiner then asked: “If the wind blows a little harder?” The reply was: “Then you shoot out a little more anchor chain.” The question was repeated and the reply was always the same.

The examiner then asked: “Where do you get all that chain?” The skipper replied: “But where do you get all that wind?” There is nothing that beats experience.

The beauty of angling is that we are all on the same platform. We saw Duncan Phillips excel at the young age of five. One does not have to cast so far that you need another license to fish there! It is merely fishing where the water is working best.

The “law of the jungle” prevails even there. The fittest survive.

As a novice deep-sea angler then, I often wondered what birds do so far out at sea. When I had my first tuna outing as a young man, that question became much clearer. My skipper followed the birds until they were feeding in frenzy. That is where we picked up our first tuna. What a fighter. That fish sounds and pulls line like I have never experienced before. Bonitos, on the other hand, are a much smaller fish and are also a fun catch, as they hit the Rapala’s three or four at a time. Let the games begin! The beauty is that they are found much closer to shore, so the fuel bill is relative.

No contributions were received of late, so I decided to add a picture from a past trip I undertook with some friends to the Ry Bank, where we had a ball catching Bonito’s on light tackle.

Every sport has its injuries and angling is no exception. A few years back I was fishing with a junior angler in a light tackle boat bay league. This young man was really into the fish and his two rods were running double guns. One fish, a bull ray, was on deck while he was tending to the other rod and trying to release this ray as quickly as possible, at the same time. It was at this moment that the fish decided to get its own back. While he now focused away from the danger on board, the ray stuck him right through his calf muscle with its sting. A painful experience which he will never forget. It required a doctor’s serious attention to clean the wound. He now has the scars to show for it. So, be aware of the dangers out there.

Some rays can produce an electric current that will shock the daylights out of you, should you make contact with it. They normally frequent the shallows of an estuary. Wear booties as there are often foreign objects hidden in the mud and sand.

Here is another interesting website: The website allows you to measure a fish, take a picture, release it and determine later what weight that size fish was.

Fish are measured full length, in centimetres – which constitutes the extreme length of a fish (measuring from the snout to the end of the tail).

Measurements are done with the fish lying on its side.

There are also tide, weather and even freshwater tables to make use of.

Talking of freshwater angling, I have received no contributions from this sector, which I know is very active. I can be contacted on

Let’s see what the month of February delivers!

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