While traveling the world, I promised myself that we would fish in some memorable and exotic places.
But when we arrived in Queensland, Australia, our year-long adventure was almost over and not a single fish had been landed.
We stumbled off the bus in Rockhampton without enough cash to keep traveling slowly to Sydney, where our flight home awaited.
The only solution was to lie low at the hostel on Great Keppel Island, spend absolutely no money, and then make a final dash on the midnight bus all the way down to the airport in Botany Bay. But what can you do on a tropical island with hardly any money? Trish settled for lying on the beach beneath a sunscreen-ridden paperback but I knew the time had arrived at last - I was going to fish!
A shack beside the beach offered rods and bait for three dollars a day. After begging the money from the kitty, arguing that we could eat whatever I caught, I proudly set off down to the impossibly blue Pacific Ocean.
I hooked up my bait and cast out into the waves. Straight away, I felt the tell-tale twitch on the line which meant that something was nibbling at my bait. I drew the rod upwards in a 'strike', to lodge the hook in the fishes mouth, then started to reel him in.
But the line was slack and came in far too easily. My hook came back to me bare, its tasty piece of squid all gone. I baited up again, cast again and the same thing happened again - good bite, good strike, good bye.
All morning I baited, cast, struck and lost with infuriating regularity. A passing Australian couple giggled, amused by this weedy translucent fool who patently couldn't fish for nuts.
When all my bait was gone, I hauled myself back to the tackle shack, frustrated, dejected and with no dinner to offer my girlfriend. The owner was amused to see me back so soon.
"The Fish," he said, " They're called ‘Flat Head’ and you're going about them all wrong. Let me give you a tip…"
As well as his advice he also gave me a free refill of squid.
Back I went to do battle one last time.
I had just cast the first of my new bait into the waves when the Australian couple came smirking back from their walk.
"'Devil for punishment, mate?" the Aussie said.
At that moment I got a bite, the thirty-second of the day. I turned, put the rod over my shoulder and ran full speed off up the beach to where Trish was reading her book.
She jumped up.
"What is it, what's wrong?" she cried.
I stopped beside her and turned.
The Australians, frozen at the shore, were gaping up at me as if I was mad.
Perhaps I was but there, half-way up the beach, also gaping, thrashed a large silver bug-eyed fish. My Flat Head had landed.
I spent the next hour belting up the beach pulling legions of bewildered fish out of the pacific. A small crowd gathered to applaud my technique and I was the toast of the 'barbie' that very evening.
And if you think this is just a tall fishing tale, go on down to Great Keppel Island and try it out for yourself.
It really works.