Fisheries. Old Salt hadn't seen them and they didn't stop to say gidday. An hour later I watched them chatting to Unruly, as we picked up the rivermouth net. "They're not cops or tourists. Better check where your demarcation point is," I said to Old Salt.
"Well, fuck. I dunno where it is. Must be where I chucked that buoy. Anyway. Let's get this net out of the water, go in and say good morning like the gentlemen we are."
They measured every fish from every single box.
Even the big ones
There was a quibble over his license because, like a drivers' license, you have to have it on your person. Old Salt rambled around his glove box and his wallet, his caravan and his dog, stalling and telling yarns.
"Just ring the office and ask them if he's got one," I suggested.
One of the officers walked off to follow his satellite phone around and find some range. Old Salt went into the caravan and made some coffee. I chatted to the other officer while I packed fish. Eventually the first fisheries officer came back, shook his head and they drove away.
They've been watching him for a while now, well for a few decades actually. They would have liked to have got him on a single under sized bream or an overdue license but they were out of luck this day.
Life goes on. New fisheries officers are born, go to school, to university, get a job. The Old Salts of the world just live on, lurking the inlets, getting wilier and smellier every year.