Extra care is needed standing up in a tinny especially on a chilly morning with a big fish on.
Extra care is needed standing up in a tinny especially on a chilly morning with a big fish on.

The day I fell overboard landing a feisty flathead

IT was a valuable fishing lesson on three fronts.

Firstly, the need to be careful reeling in a hard-fighting flathead.

Secondly, to make sure you can tread water when covered in lots of winter clothing.

Thirdly, the best way to get back in a small boat is not by grabbing the side rails.

It all happened pretty quickly one chilly morning fishing a creek mouth chasing what we loved calling "lizards'' (real name flathead).

It was just my brother and I in a tinny that had served us well for many years.

We could sneak into quiet backwaters and jig for live bait then anchor up nearby waiting for the tide to turn and the lizards to come on the bite.

We had adopted the same approach multiple times, getting up before sunrise, launching our little boat and chugging across the river to our secret spot.

The result was regular flathead catches and a lot of enjoyment, especially as the sun came up defrosting the ice on our fingertips.

But then it all went wrong, horribly wrong. Thankfully I didn't drown, or worse still take my sibling with me.

As I stood up to reel in a decent flathead this particular morning, I overbalanced and landed in the water. To this day, I'm not quite sure why.

I had successfully played and landed many flathead and bream on holidays for years before.

Maybe it was just a brief lapse in concentration that resulted in me being tossed into the freezing water.

After the unfortunate incident being left soaking wet, I managed to grab back onto the side of the tinny before being washed away.

However, my brother saved us both ending up in the proverbial drink.

He quickly shouted: "Don't do that. Come around the back''.

As I realised what I was trying to do - climb back in over the side - the reality struck home. That could have ended with both of us wet, cold and with all our fishing gear in the water.

So I carefully moved around to the outboard motor and used that as a ladder to climb back in. That was successful with no further damage done.

But being drenched, it was time to chug to a nearby mud bank and dry off.

Thankfully the sun was coming up as I removed about six layers of fishing clothes.

A wipe down with a towel and few moments to gather myself and we were back on the tinny and fishing on.

It wasn't our most successful outing. But we enjoyed many more similar sessions catching decent flathead - only making sure I stayed in the boat.

This article is part of a Fishy Tales series focusing on unusual experiences and adventures.