Almanac Flashback: Fishing for a non-fisherman

Col was inspired by Dips O’Donnell’s recent reflection looking back and catching up with old mates.   Col has dug out a story he posted a few years ago when he caught up with some old mates of 60 odd years in WA.



Each year for the past four years I have spent a week on a small island  about 15 kms off the coast of Karratha, WA, bonding with some old mates. We have known each other  for more than fifty years and it provides us with the opportunity to get together, catch up , reminisce and crap on about old times.


But for everyone,except me, it’s also a time for fishing and boy do my mates love their fishing. Top of the range stuff,  expensive rods and reels with a huge array of hooks, lines, sinkers and lures from the weird to the wonderful that have to be seen to be believed.  Kept in impressive looking tackle boxes they are treated with the same loving respect  usually reserved for  a favourite lover. Not that my mates have any lovers except their wives, of course!


Each morning the boxes are brought out  and lovingly caressed in preparation before each day’s fishing. Different tackle for different fish. It’s all very methodical, technical and academic. Rations for the day’s outing are prepared and loaded onto the boat. No way that we will ever be hungry or thirsty out on the ocean. We are extremely well provided for.



The shack is on a small island that is part of the Dampier Archipelago. It sits just beyond the shoreline of a cove with a most remarkable vista. Absolutely amazing sunsets. Sitting on the open verandah with a good red in hand, relaxing after a day on the water and a good meal,  is absolute bliss and to watch the sun going down is truly a magnificent sight to behold. Picture book. We are blessed on the island. Fully self sustaining. A generator provides all the power required for fridges, freezers, ovens and big screen television with Foxtel. No game of football is ever missed. It is cyclone proof though we are yet to experience any adverse weather on any of our trips. Just a steady 30C during the day and about 25c at night has been the norm.



So what does one do if he is not a fisherman? Primarily my role is that of photographer. Each catch is recorded for posterity and if we are not too far out to sea each snap is immediately emailed  to envious colleagues back home. I also hand out the cans and make sure nobody dehydrates, a most important chore on board and one that is really appreciated by my mates. I also keep a shark watch. There are some big ones out there particularly if you are a distance off shore and have a big fish hooked on line. They like to take the easy way out for a feed at times!



Lunch may involve beaching the boat on a remote sandy beach, unloading the esky and if the water is clear of predators , a quick dip but close to shore with a lookout. Maybe an  explore of the island. Many of the islands in the archipelago have aboriginal rock art and carvings created probably thousands of years ago. A great privilege to have access to them. A wonderful sight. This world is a paradise.



Back at the shack after a day’s fishing it’s gin and tonic on the deck while the already filleted fish are placed in the freezer or prepared for tea. The nominated chef for the day cooks the meal and we eat overlooking our magnificent vista. It’s a tough life sometimes. A nice red, a reflection on the day’s results then some entertainment with our favourite songs from the 60’s. It is always a fight to see who can get their ipod or phone onto the speaker system first. For some reason I’m usually not in the race, probably because the boys know my ipod is filled with Dylan and they make sure they get in first. Very democratic, first in first served. Great fun singing along with all the old songs though.


So fellow knackers that is what I will be doing next week  and I send my apologies for my non attendance at the  Footy Almanac function this Friday which I was looking forward to, especially to finally meet many of you. Have a great night and I hope the next function doesn’t clash with anything on my calendar and I can meet you then.

Go Bombers!


All photos by CGR


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Woke up this morning after a broken night’s sleep, my cold getting worse, the coffee machine breaks down – and then I read this! Fishing, wine, fresh fish, an amazing vista – AND A FLAT SCREEN WITH THE FOOTY ON FOXTEL.

    It was cruel, Colin, very cruel.

  2. mickey randall says

    Lovely Colin. And of course, every year, everyone tells the same stories, plays the same music and drinks the same grog. Wonderful. Exactly how it should be!

  3. What a magic spot Col.

  4. Colin Abbott says

    Think we can understand why William Dampier sailed round the world twice in a wooden ship to visit this part of WA.William didn’t sail too much further south due to his dislike of the cold. Temperature at Karratha and Broome perfectly fine from his viewpoint.

  5. Gary Clark says

    Thanks for including the photo with the dreaded budgie smugglers Col. GC

  6. roger lowrey says

    Great yarn Col – and great pics.

    I never warmed to fishing. On my only adult life attempt at it I went fly fishing with mates in the Victorian mountain country. After slipping over and getting drenched in the chilly waters of the Tambo once too often I resigned my fishing commission and assumed the duties of supplies procurement officer making the daily trip from our bush camp into the nearby Omeo township.

    At least I was able to ensure we ate and drank well.


  7. Paul Hamilton Ritchie says

    Sounds great fun Col. Maybe one day the brothers could be invited.

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