A true Pembrokeshire tale from the past.
When I was young, my Dad took us kids out fishing from Dale – every year from when i was about 8 until teenage years. I can honestly say the only thing I enjoyed about the trips were the eating of the fresh mackerel afterwards!
We went with George the fisherman – every over 50 now would know of him and you can see his picture hanging proud in the Griffin pub. If you ever wanted to go fishing in those days, then George was your man – easy to spot with his little bobble hat.
Different boats were used over the years – the Empress, the Dale Queen and the Dale Princess. So we would set off across the beach in our wellies to be picked up by George. Each trip would have between 6 – 10 people, of which three would have been us kids.
I’d think , to start with, this is nice and calm. Then after ten minutes or so we would come round the headland into choppy waters and the engine would stop. George knew exactly where the shoal of mackeral were likely to be and we would all be given a little wooden framed fishing line – safer than rods with so many on board. 6 hooks were placed on each line with coloured feathers as bait and nearly everyone would catch at least a couple or more.
But me, I always felt ill and was sick and would lie down on a bench until we got back to shore. This would happen year after year. Each summer I would tell myself, I am a year older that last time so I will be able to cope better….but, no! Again the smell of the diesel and the waves sent me over the side throwing up! Would I ever get over it?
But finally, when I was about 13 and let’s be honest, I had fed the fish for years – or as dad would say I was helpfully groundbaiting, this would be my year! About 8 on board, from what I recall, including one pompous middle-aged man who muttered about “kids…..they just get in the way and are always throwing up!” I guess he had a point.
Anyway, we set off and went to the same place, same diesel smell, same waves, but maybe, just maybe the water was less choppy of maybe I had simply grown up and , this time, I was fine. I caught 5 out of 6 mackerel on one catch!
“Reel them in!” I cried
and I think the three os us had over 20 between us and Dad another 10 or so. I looked across at the self-important pompus man, who had become very quiet and now had the colour of an avocado about his face. He then proceeded to throw up all over the inside of the boat – he could have given the fish some! For the rest of the trip he sat forlorn.
When we got back to dry land, Dad said to him : “Did you catch any?” “Er, no” he replied so everyone chipped in to give him a couple each. How kind!!
When I was much older, I went to a Greek island and experienced the worst crossing I had ever known with about 100 people on board, of which 95 were seasick. Those Dale fishing trips must have hardened me off, because I was one of the few who were fine.
My Dad was such a keen fisherman that he went once with his friend Bernie, off Watwick steps near Dale fishing on a pitch black, freezing , wet night. They huddled together and Bernie said: “hey, Barrie, we could be home now tucked up with the wives in a warm bed!” Dad’s reply: “yes,it’s great here, isn’t it!”