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U3A Writing: The Secret Of My Success

"Among my mates, I have a reputation as a successful angler. No matter where we fish, I usually catch the first fish, the most fish, the best fish. Often I’m the only one to catch my bag limit. In making these statements I am not boasting, I am simply stating facts. If you wish to know the secret, read on ...'' writes John Leary.

I turned 18 in 1968, right in the middle of the period when the Australian government was sending conscripted National Serviceman to fight in Vietnam. As I didn’t like fighting (I still don’t!) I decided to “go bush” rather than face being called up.

At that time my uncle was managing a sheep station on the Murray River west of Wentworth, so I went to live on the property. I parked an old caravan on the bank above the river, erected a lean-to annex beside it, and settled down to see the war out. In return for these arrangements, I worked for my uncle when he needed me, rounding up sheep or repairing fences or whatever.

To legitimize my presence by the river, and to provide me with an income, my uncle, (whose name, conveniently, was identical to mine) took out a professional fishing licence — they were readily available in those days — and I became a fisherman. I didn’t work hard, but the activity provided a good cover story. I caught cod and yellow-belly. My uncle took them to an agent in Wentworth and they were sold at the markets in Melbourne or Adelaide.

My uncle supplied meat and other essentials. To supplement these supplies I planted a garden where I grew tomatoes, beans, lettuces — in fact, most of the vegetables I required. The garden consisted of flat terraced beds by the river. A small pump raised water to the highest bed, and a system of furrows allowed it to trickle back through the plants to the river. It was a good scheme that required little work. The soil was excellent and the climate was fine for growing things so the garden was quite productive.

Although I was a draft-dodger and therefore a fugitive from the law, I felt I was living the good life. The weather in that part of NSW is nearly always good, my camp site was excellent, and there was very little chance that the authorities would track me down. It was a rather isolated life, even though my family and friends loyally visited as often as they could. My brother became my favourite visitor because he always brought a stash of marijuana with him. We would sit in the shade by the river and yarn and get stoned together.

In those days marijuana was difficult to obtain, and expensive. We decided to grow our own. My brother obtained the seed and we planted it in my garden. It flourished. Life became better than ever.

I had tried “pot” at university, but not extensively because of the expense. But now, with an unlimited supply, I was able to enjoy it and experiment at will. I tried it in my salads, I cooked it like cabbage, I even made cookies with it.

The fish liked it too. Whenever I turned the pump on to irrigate my garden, the water that flowed back to the river had flowed through the marijuana patch and had become impregnated with the drug. On hearing the pump, fish would gather near the outlet channel, and soon would be engaged in a feeding frenzy. At such times even an unbaited hook on a line would catch a fish, so my professional nets and long-lines produced excellent results. Soon it took little effort to keep the agent in Wentworth supplied. I did not have to row my boat or set nets away from my camp. Life became easier than ever.

Unfortunately for me, Gough Whitlam won the election in 1972 and one of the first things he did was to cancel Australia’s Vietnam commitment and declare an amnesty for all draft dodgers like me. So my reason for living out there was wiped out. I had to return to university and “civilised” living.

I’m much older now. I’m married, I’ve raised two children, paid off a mortgage, etc etc. I live a quiet retired life these days. And I never smoke pot.

But whenever I go fishing, I take a small stash of marijuana with me. I rub it on my bait just before casting. It produces excellent results — as I said at the beginning, I enjoy far more success than any of my fishing mates.

It’s the secret of my success. I recommend you should try it some time.


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