The incredible Tow where old wooden boats were linked together in a chain before heading to their Jumpinpin fishing location.
The incredible Tow where old wooden boats were linked together in a chain before heading to their Jumpinpin fishing location.

Drinking, shivering and being towed: Remember this?

WITH winter approaching, it won't be long until anglers drag out the waders, beanies and big jackets for an evening outing.

Handling the cold nights is part of the challenge, especially when the fish aren't biting and the wind picks up.

However, spare a thought for the hardy Ipswich anglers who used to fish the Jumpinpin in the cooler months, starting at what was fondly known as the "Boat Shed''.

The old shed at Cabbage Tree Point used to house the wooden vessels used by Ipswich fishing club members in the "good old days''.

It was in those primitive vessels that the anglers used to form a chain.

The main launch would tow more than 40 old wooden dinghies from Jacob's Well and Cabbage Tree Point to the mouth of the Jumpinpin.

Once at the destination, anglers would break from the "Tow'' and row off to fish overnight in their tiny boats.

After at times shivering all night, the fishermen would rejoin the Tow for a return trip to the Boat Shed.

That's where their catches were weighed in and many fishing adventures shared.

Well-known Booval Club angler Alwyn "Tiny'' Dowse recounted some of his experiences in my 1996 QT Winter Fishing Guide.

"Those days were the best,'' Tiny said. "They were always very, very social.''

Tiny first joined the Tow in 1945. He believes the novel way of reaching the fishing grounds may have started before the 1930s.

Tiny passed away peacefully at Bundaleer Lodge on June 16, 2009.

However, his wonderful memories need to live on.

He said the Brassall, Booval and Aberdare clubs were among the first to set up a boat shed and organise the Tow every fortnight during winter.

The launch would leave Saturday morning, tow the boats three or four kilometres to the Pin and wait overnight in the middle of the channel to collect them the next morning.

"It would take about one and a half hours to tow us back,'' Tiny recalled.

"They would try to tow with the tide but it didn't always work that way.

"The trip home was always a memorable one.

"It was never a good idea to be the last boat on the tow - they'd cut the rope and you'd have to row home.''

However, Tiny said the Tow was never chaotic despite the large number of vessels linked together.

"It was quite simple really. You'd row up and the first two boats would hook on. Then everyone else would join in.''

 

The Jumpinpin where the “Tow’’ used to take anglers to their fishing grounds.
The Jumpinpin where the “Tow’’ used to take anglers to their fishing grounds.

 

Ipswich Association records show that the timber framed Boat Shed was built on stumps in the 1940s after a group of anglers joined forces to make storage room for their wooden dinghies.

Debentures were sold to help finance the construction.

Anglers would come from everywhere to fish - including the mines, factories and railway.

 

Champion Ipswich angler and long-serving fishing official John Crone. Picture: Christopher Chan
Champion Ipswich angler and long-serving fishing official John Crone. Picture: Christopher Chan

 

At the peak of the Tow's usage in the 1970s, champion Aberdare angler John Crone can remember hundreds of anglers fishing in the Telegraph Shield.

"It was amazing how many boats used it,'' Crone said.

"People with oars used to row all over each other. It was all sorts of fun.''

It's fitting to give Tiny the final reflections of the Tow and those chilly nights on the water.

The anglers would pile on the back of a truck or on a bus for the journey down.

Although he didn't drink like many of his mates, Tiny said some anglers enjoyed several sips of their favourite ale.

"You could drink as much as you like . . . they'd even stop for a drink at every hotel on the way down (to Cabbage Tree Point),'' he said.

An important part of the routine was stopping at a favourite bait shop near Yatala to stock up on supplies.

"We'd always pick up our prawns, mullet gut and gar,'' Tiny said.

Tiny recalled a clever method to beat the chill on those freezing winter evenings.

"Some nights were as cold as hell. To keep warm, you'd take a corn bag and place a little hurricane lamp in it,'' he said.

"Putting your feet in the bag would warm you up all night.

"That was great other than when it rained.''