There are no fish in the ocean

IT’s a well known fact there are no fish in the ocean.

I’ve looked.

That is, I have searched for them with a hook. With food on. The kind of food that fish find irresistible. Prawns and bread; worms and chicken guts. I’ve even tried the parson’s nose, which everyone knows is the best bit on a chicken.


I’ve fished close to shore and far out beyond the surf. I have fished from boats and rocks and piers. It’s empty. Well, not exactly empty. It’s full of plastic, discarded fishing line and old bait bags, but not fish.

So I find it hard to see how 300 fishermen could have been fined for fishing in a Great Barrier Reef green zone (Townsville Bulletin, Thursday, March 27).

They needed a good lawyer. How can you be fined for fishing when there are no fish?

And don’t give me any nonsense about how I must be mistaken. That’s what my son-in-law said. And Ben at work, and Fred next door, before they took me fishing.

I tried to tell them but they knew better. They even took me down to the harbour and showed me the fishing boats unloading their catch.

Oh, I’m sure there are fish in some oceans. I’ve seen photos; and no doubt our fishing boats travel vast distances to find them, but there are no fish in our ocean. Not the bit off Townsville.

And I’ll tell you another curious thing: bait won’t stay on the hook in our ocean. I’ve chucked several kilos of prawns into the ocean in the space of half an hour, all on the sharp end of a hook, and not one of them has ever been there when I’ve reeled in. It would be quicker and cheaper just to chuck ‘em off the end of the pier, still in the box. Even chicken guts wriggle free five seconds after they’re in the water – and they’re dead!

My family won’t go fishing with me any more. My daughter suggested I was a Jonah, until my other daughter reminded her that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. That’s never going to happen me. There are no whales. I know they’re not fish but I’m confident the ocean is empty of anything that might show the remotest interest in a hook; and that could include whales. If it was a big hook.

Perhaps you think I exaggerate? Come fishing with me and I’ll show you! It’ll have to be from the shore because I can no longer get my son-in-law to take me out in his boat. He’s a bit ashamed about crying in public.

Look, I wish it weren’t true. I know I’m a ring-in from Blighty, but I am a fully paid up and naturalised citizen and I really, really want to catch a fish. Not being able to is almost as un-Australian as not knowing who Wally Lewis is, or burning steaks on a barbecue Ñ two things, incidentally, that I have also done.

It’s heart breaking. I badly want to be a real Australian. I know all the words to The Man From Snowy River and the national anthem (despite it being truly awful), but I’m never going to be accepted until I can name every State of Origin player, produce a well-done steak on a barbie, say “Yoe-ghurt” instead of “Yo-ghurt” and catch a bloody fish!