Week #11 – Salmon Fishing Betty’s Beach – Part 1

Betty’s Beach is a little over 50 km’s east of Albany and is home to a commercial salmon fishing operation that runs from the middle of February to the end of April.  During the season, Paul lives in one of the fishing huts that dot this particularly picturesque piece of coast. Paul’s son, Nathan, and grandson, Aiden, often work alongside him in what is a particularly physical job – at least when there is a catch.  This must be hard for Ted, another fisherman, aged 81.  As I watch him work I swear he he moves like a bloke less than half his age – a testament to years of physical activity.   Paul says, “I’ve been doing it for fifty years this year, and Ted’s been doing it a little longer than that.  But our family has been doing it from just after the war, really.”

This is not a game for the impatient.  A lot of time is spent waiting, watching and preparing for the fish to swim by.  “The day starts just before daylight with a cup of coffee and we start watching, and some days we watch all day for nothing and some days we get lucky” says Paul.   “It can get tiresome after long spells without fish.  It definitely can get weary; it wears you down a bit because you’re never quite relaxed.  You relax after you’ve had a good catch.”

Paul often works from one of the huts affectionately known as ‘HQ’.  “It’s the nerve centre.  It’s the lookout, the mess.  There’s a couple of old beds where we have a nanna nap if we get the chance after lunch.  It’s the meeting place for all the crew and of an evening, on the weekends it’s a meeting place for visitors as well.  We have a few drinks here on a Friday or Saturday and tell a few stories about the week that’s gone.  The whole family come down and it’s great.  Right from the young kids to the veyy oldest of us, and the kids just sit and listen in awe to some of the stories that get told, and it has a real deep meaning to the life, or way of life that we live down here.  We couldn’t image Betty’s Beach without it.”