Efficient Fishing

Tim wearing his Plumtree School hat rowing Rosemary Paget, the Bishop’s wife,  across Lake McIlwaine 1954

 Efficient Fishing   

Tim and his friends, ‘The Gang’, went fishing in local dams around Plumtree. The goal was to obtain as many fish as possible in the shortest time.

Efficient Fishing   

Late Saturday afternoon The Gang would buy a  sack of ma-ses (skimmed off brewing sorghum beer) from an African beer maker.  They’d hide it in the muddy dam water. On Sunday morning, after attending compulsory church (any denomination would do: Presbyterian, Anglican or Roman Catholic), and a hearty breakfast, they’d go fishing. They’d fit sticks with lines, floats, sinkers, hooks, and bait, small pieces of ox heart from the local butcher.

Fish from all over the dam gobbled up the ma-ses during the night. Partly inebriated, the fish were soon caught. Africans who spotted The Gang would line up behind them, and in exchange for small fish, would take fish off the hook and readjust their bait. The Gang just did the fishing.  Later they would deliver the catch, scaled and gutted, to the dining hall and ask the African cooks to prepare it for Monday breakfast. Given their fair share, they were quite happy to oblige.

Mark Twain did not allow his schooling to interfere with his education.  Tim didn’t manage to keep up with the academic ‘A-class’ stream, who sat for their Cambridge School Certificate after four years. He was moved to the five year stream that included cabinet making as a subject. He always got highest marks for woodwork exams.  His teacher tried to encourage him to think of a future as a carpenter. Tim scoffed; he was going to be a farmer, like his dad.

Many thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.


  • betty goolsby

    Reply Reply August 17, 2013

    Never thought of getting fish drunk! We live near the Shiner Beer Company…wonder if they would oblige me some good foamy residue….we live right above Lake LBJ….will give a full report! Going to dust off my fishing pole now! I enjoy a good fishing tale!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply August 19, 2013

      Betty, Let us know how your fare!

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