END of an era Nothing lasts forever. I have mentioned here before that my boss seems to think my fishing days should be over. My pig headed self does not agree. That self is not always right and the other may be. I have to confess to a couple of stumbles in recent weeks. One could have had serious consequences as my hand was caught in the handle of our sliding glass door. Twice I’ve landed on my knees in the garden and the ground was nice and soft. Also mentioned was going for a wade around the shore with a rod, which was largely her suggestion, rather than taking the boat out, with or without a friend. I did that yesterday and caught nothing but am not including it as a zero catch, due to mitigating circumstances. It’s the first time out since a flood further opened the entrance and had no idea what effect that might have on the rise and fall inside the estuary. It was a fairly large effect. When I arrived, expecting to see water at a certain point, due to the out flow increase, the level was way below what was expected. I had worn my neoprene waders in case the water may have been a bit colder than IO can handle. It wasn’t. It was quite warm. Apparently desperate for a fish, it was decided to give it a whirl anyway. A nor-westerly was pushing 6” waves onto the shore. It wasn’t too long before I was fifty metres from shore and still in water only ¾ of a metre deep. I stood in a couple of stingray holes that tested my balance a little and had no response from the piscatorial department. After about half an hour I decided it was time to quit. I used to fish this way regularly and usually got half a dozen flathead before breakfast but had not done for years. Until a huge flood about eight years ago, there was a band of weed about 10m wide here and hundreds of meters long. It was a real nursery. It’s totally barren now. There is not a blade of weed (sea grass) to be seen. Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I stood in either another stingray hole or a patch of soft mud and was immediately sitting on my bum with water around my shoulders. Rod was still in one hand and my spare remained in the holster on its belt. No drama I thought. The water was warm as toast. Then I tried to stand up. The floatation of neoprene waders, coupled with probably air trapped in the toes of my waders made it impossible to get my feet under water. I could get either foot down but no way could I get both. Trying too hard meant my head went under. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to stand up in water with only one foot available. Now it was a problem. Never a panic merchant, the first thing I do when in trouble is stay cool, think logically and rationally and find an answer. I could not turn over in the water either. That’s when I realised that had I fallen forward I could have been in extremely serious trouble. I could scrape the sand with either hand so decided to continue lying on my back and try and work my way to shore. My face was above water and the wind had died. There were no more waves but I still copped a couple of mouthfuls. Getting one foot down I could give myself a bit of a push, using my fingers on the bottom to remain stable and hopefully to control direction. Trying a few times as the water shallowed, it was still impossible to get both feet to the bottom until I was so close to the shore that I could roll over and get onto my knees and reached a log to sit on. All seemed good. With suction from water inside and friction, it took at least ¼ of an hour to get my waders off. The sun was shining and it was warm. Cold is my enemy. Poured the water out of my gear bag, still over my shoulder and my waders I headed for the Jeep to discover the keys were still out in the lake somewhere. While travelling we had a spare cut even though Boss always had the original spare in her bag. First thing was to ensure it worked. It opened the door and started the engine. Perfect. It was fixed inside the roof rack with some copper wire. I thought; you clever old bugger, you’re home and hosed (literally as I was coated in sand), then got in Jeep. After starting the old girl the engine died soon after as it did with another couple of attempts. That was a first and a worry. I realised that the key was there in case we locked ours in at some stage. It was only a normal key and the computer knew there was no matching micro-chip and would shut the Jeep down after five seconds as an anti-theft device. I doubted my ability to walk all the way home and looked a bit weird being wet and covered in sand so decided to walk to the caravan park about ½ km away in bare feet. A big risk was an oyster shell in the sand, a risk I couldn’t avoid. A couple there tried to ring Boss who was outside. The guy put me on an old towel and drove me home. Boss cannot find the spare she’s always had. A combination of NRMA and a locksmith, who has a job in Tuross today, hope to have Jeep driveable this arvo. If not she’ll go to Batemans Bay on a tilt tray to his workshop. NRMA cover the towing costs as needed and $100 toward the locksmith. New genuine computerised Jeep keys are at least $150 each. Because we have the cutting pattern, the guy says they can play with micro-chips and possibly make a new one. The moral of all this that I am no longer fit to be out on my own and my fishing days are certainly numbered after 75 years of it. We discussed briefly last week that on my demise, boat would be given to my terrific friend Ray if he wants her. I think it will also be the demise of my time with TBX with this the last post you will have to tolerate. I can’t apologise for the length of this but it had to be said pretty much as it was but much is still left out including all the stuff in the outside pockets of my gear bag, lost with the keys. I thank each and every one of you for putting up with me over the years. I have enjoyed it. Noel Everyone needs to have a swan song. Best wishes to you all.