Tangle with a Tiger on the Macquarie

Some wise words written below fellow Presidents, luckily it has a happy ending. Thanks President Mick for the timely reminder as the warmer weather approaches.
President Todd.

G’day all,
I haven’t had many chances to get a lot of fishing in this year, but on Friday (after looking out the window all day at the glorious weather) I jumped in the car after work, packed in my fly rod and went for a look on the Macquarie near Cressy.

It was about 6pm when I got on the river.  The evening was still pretty warm (high teens) so I decided not to pull on my thigh high waders, even though I had put them in the car (I usually always wear in the unlikely event that I get too close to a snake)… I guess in making my decision not to wear the waders I considered stuff like “the water was low – no need for wading”, “ it was too hot” and “I had never seen a snake on the stretch of the river I was going to fish”… So off I headed wearing my Blundstones and fairly light weight cotton trousers…

The wind had picked up a bit, so I was walking fairly quickly to get to a spot about 2km from the car that I knew would be fairly sheltered and maybe I could find a spinner or two over the water. I was following a pretty well defined track that followed the river about 1 ½ foot wide in grass about 2 foot tall, and like all fishermen, I had my eyes on the water looking for the sign of a feeding fish…

I’ll pause hear and say that I’m sure most of us have at one time or another have had the experience of standing on a bent stick that flicks up and hits you in the leg; it can make pretty solid contact, and you can guess what’s just happened without really worrying about it…  well this was different…

I knew I hadn’t stood on a stick, as I felt nothing under my foot, but I felt a thump in the right shin, like the sensation of being hit by lump of meat (something that was only semi-solid)… “That was odd” I thought, and after taking another step or two I casually glanced behind me wondering what that was…

What I saw was the fattest snake I have ever seen in the 10 or so years I have been in Tasmania, moving away from me diagonally across the track… What I said can’t really be written, due both to the audience reading this, and the fact that I don’t know how to spell some of the words I said… (words that include characters such as #@*&!)...

I honestly don’t know how long it was, as I couldn’t see all of it, but the words we have all heard “easily thicker than your wrist – more like you forearm” is the only way to describe it . Also, I didn’t see its head, and am assuming (given its size and colour) it was a Tiger – but I could be wrong though. I did see enough to know it wasn’t an eel…  I have seen many large snakes while fishing in Tassie in places like the Nineteen Lagoons areas and around St Clair, but nothing I have seen comes close to this one…

My immediate thought was “The snake is now between me and my way back to the car… how do I get past it”… The last I had seen of it, it was heading to the water, so I “goose stepped” at Olympic pace in about a 20m arc on the opposite side of the track (through long grass) back towards the car… (I had already decided in about a nanosecond that fishing was over for that day…).

It was only after about moving 50 meters past the spot where I’d seen the snake that the thought occurred to me that I’d better pull up my trouser leg and have a look at where I felt the thump. I didn’t know what to expect, and my heart was still leaping out of my chest… I guess I was surprised that I  couldn’t see any tell-tale puncture marks or traces of blood. I moved on a bit and realised I was still well over 1 ½ km from the car, so had another look just to reconfirm it had missed me, as I had a long way to go – still I saw no sign of it having tagged me.

On the way back to the car I walked out of the long grass close to the recently ploughed crop – my nerves totally shot… Can you imagine what my reaction was when a hare bolted from its hide less than 3 foot in front of me!!! (I used those #@%! words again…).

By the time I got back to the car I figured: “I’m back at the car’ – I’m not foaming from the mouth, no dizziness, no headaches, no soreness, I’m not dead… it must have missed me..”.

What have I learnt?

  1. I was very lucky!
  2. Don’t leave your mobile phone in the car (I’d have been in all sorts of trouble if it had tagged me being that far from the car)…
  3. Spend more time looking where you are stepping than at the water
  4. There are BIG snakes living near the Macquarie
  5. If you have taken the time to put waders in the car – wear them
  6. If ‘Goose Stepping’ ever becomes an Olympic sport I’m in, as I’ve already got the world record…
  7. To those that say “if you are bitten by a snake – stay calm”…You Are Dreaming!!!

I’ll be back on the Macquarie as soon as I get another opportunity, but if you see me there, I’ll be the guy wearing waders!!!
Mick Emmett
PS: For the record… No Fish (but about 15 beers when I got home – and a couple more checks of the leg)… Cheers. Mick.

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