Americans like guns, and then I caught a fish.

Last weekend I put on a plaid pearl snap shirt, tucked it into a new pair of blue jeans, pulled on a pair of leather cowboy boots, and topped it all off with a camouflage truckers cap. Why? Because I was invited to a party, it was an Australian backyard BBQ and beer drink’n afair, and I wanted to do my best to represent ‘merica. So in addition to my outfit I bought 12 cans of some of the most marginal beer I thought a country bumpkin from the U.S. would drink in Australia (XXXX Gold). The first response I got at the party was “Where’s your shotgun?”. This, so far, is the story of my Australian experience. Having a large beard combined with wearing plaid shirts and blue jeans incites questions of my relationship to firearms from most Australians. To be fair, if I wear the same “costume” in the states (which I often do), most American citizens would probably assume that I am a gun owner and perhaps an obsessive firearms enthusiast; I am the former but certainly not the latter.

However, while gun-owning-beard-grower is the category I am put in by people my age or much older than I am, younger Australians have a more deductive approach to categorizing me. The most recent example being yesterday. I left my house in the afternoon to walk over to campus, 7 young boys were throwing a cricket ball around and riding bikes in front of my house. As I walked outside, one of them exclaimed that I looked like Osama Bin Laden, and the interaction went as follows.

I said: “His beard wasn’t red, dude”.

Responding to the sound of my accent he said: “You should die your beard black then; wait, are you scottish!?”

me: “Not only are you likely color blind, but your ears don’t work so good either”.

as I walked away from the mob of boys, one of them shouted, “Oh!, he’s American”

I hollered back “Bingo!”

Since the accent didn’t initially give it away, I assume it was my poor grammar that clued him in.

I won’t draw any conclusions from these events with a half-hearted attempt to compare and contrast American and Australian culture. One of my 11 readers might take it too seriously. There really isn’t a conclusion to be drawn anyway, I might have forgotten about any of this, had I not decided to make a blog entry about it. So to end this entry on an unrelated matter, I caught another fish on the fly-rod here in Australia. It’s a Dusky Flat Head, and by no means large, but any fish caught on the fly is a good fish.



My first fish in Australia

Almost as soon as I moved to Australia, I made a post on an Australia Saltwater Flyfishing Forum that I had moved to Newcastle and was looking to go fishing. Aussies are super friendly, and apparently they love to go fishing almost as much as I do. One fellow by the nick name of Youngy replied to me, said he lived in the Newcastle area, and would be happy to take me out, and yesterday he proved his word.

Youngy picked me up at my house at 1:00 pm, and told me to bring a 6 weight fly rod and wading boots, he said he had everything else I would need. We were going to go to the Patterson River which is just a little over an hours drive northwest of Newcastle. I ended up also bringing an assortment of bass flies I had brought in from the U.S. which proved to be a wise decision.

We got into the water at about 2:30, it was obviously low and the flow wasn’t much to speak of, this concerned youngy a bit and he said if the river was higher with better flow we could expect some better fishing. I wasn’t complaining, I was completely satisfied to wade the river and make an effort.

Young looked over my flies and suggested that my balsa wood and deer hair poppers would probably be good choices, so I tied on a chartreuse popper with some rubber legs.

Youngy was more or less correct, due to the low flow, the fishing action wasn’t exactly explosive, but the picture is proof that I got into a fish. In all,¬† I landed¬† three fish total, and I missed at least 10 strikes from other fish over the course of the trip. The experience really reminded me of small mouth bass fishing in the Ozarks, the best strikes came from making casts tight to submerged stumps, steep banks, and shaded water in deep pools. Most of my North American bass angling friends will be familiar with the following advice for poppers, once it hits the water let it sit motionless till the ripples disappear, then begin a variety of twitches, pops and gurgles to draw a strike. The technique is equally applicable to Australian bass as well as the North American black basses

Youngy says we’ll definitely get out and fish the Saltwater areas for some bigger harder fighting fish, but I must say, I have always loved wade fishing freshwater streams for small but aggressive fish, so I’ll be Happy to go back to the Patterson any day.