I caught dinner yesterday!
Half an hour before low tide, Helen and I tramped down the path past the neighbours’ house. We were armed with two hand casters, weights and hooks, a baggie of rancid squid, two bottles of extra chilled beer, and (optimistically) a knife and pair of pliers.
The hand casters cost $6 from Warehouse, which is currently offering discounts on fishing gear. We decided on squid bait after trying the Berkley Gulp! Soft Bait Lime Tiger Glow 5 Inch the other day. These are rubber fish in an artificial solution that smells like cod vomit. When we attached the artificial bait to the hook and tossed the line off the back of a kayak, we didn’t get a SNIFF, never mind a nibble. Not even one, folks.
Fish are canny.
On the positive side, the rancid squid was cheaper and evidently more effective than fake bait. On the negative, there is more risk of infection when you accidentally spear your finger with the hook and affix the squid to the unfortunate digit.
I’m not sure about Helen – who looked entirely competent – but it was my first time hand-casting. As demonstrated by Helen, the line is supposed to unspool in a graceful arc. Mine kept wrapping around my wrist or catching on the reel and yanking the weight back towards my face at high speed, usually right between the eyes. Once I wrapped the line around my neck, collecting the weight with my ear (not recommended; do not try this at home etc).
Despite my best efforts to terrify the fish away, I must be something of a Fish Whisperer, because I had a bite on my third cast. Although he was only a tiddler and broke free before I could haul him to the surface.
After about an hour, I felt something munch the bait with more vigour than seaweed. I jigged the line and – most likely by pure chance – the hook pierced his upper lip cleanly.
Neither Helen nor I could identify our catch: he was only 33cm long but a bit of a fattie; dull grey with brownish vertical stripes; rounded, stubby little tail; two long, thin fangs; and bits of brain matter strewn about his head after Helen bludgeoned him to death with a beer bottle.
After we got him home, we attempted to trace the fish’s provenance via the vast resource of the Internet. It took almost as long as it did to catch him, mainly because Fishingmag’s species identification table is ordered alphabetically. Just my luck Walter turned out to be a wrasse. Bastards.
Apparently, many Real Anglers consider wrasse annoying and won’t eat them because they’re too easy to catch. Or something. Since I’m not a Real Angler, I was undaunted. In any case, there was nothing else for dinner.
Husband claimed he was too busy to gut Walter which completely contravenes the conditions of our relationship. Husband claimed he was ‘working’, although he should be able to give all that up now that I have shown I can Provide for us.
After I gutted Walter, I roasted him with garlic, lemon, white wine, and fresh basil. Tonight his remains will be honoured with a fish stew.