The title ‘Queen of Cod’ suits me on so many subliminal levels that I’m delighted it also applies literally.
The fishing trip last weekend started inauspiciously. Halfway across the bay, boat plunging through the waves, I realized I’d left my book in the car.
I always bring a book fishing. It’s insurance, in the same way carrying an umbrella means it won’t rain, or putting on 10 kilos and wearing ugly boots guarantees you’ll bump into your partner’s ex-girlfriend even if she lives in Angola and really has absolutely no business whatsoever being in New Zealand, I mean isn’t the world big enough?
While I reflected on the probability of my having jinxed the expedition, a sharp yelp from the back of the boat announced the dog had impaled his tongue on a fishing hook. The only surprise was that Jed hadn’t done so on numerous previous occasions, since he appears to think bait is a tasty treat we thoughtfully provide as nourishment on fishing trips.
Thankfully, the hook only nicked him. I don’t relish picking hooks out of fish’s gobs, never mind Jed’s. His teeth are bigger and sharper than a terakihi’s.
We anchored off the island, over our favourite ledge. I was ON FIRE, pulling in fish one after another. On a couple of occasions, I wound in my line to check the dog hadn’t somehow managed to eat my bait at a depth of 10m, and had a fish on. We caught three kelpie for Jed’s dinner and three blue cod for ours.
On the way back, Husband suggested we try trolling for kahawai. Crying gulls swirled and swooped and squabbled over the fish breaking the surface with silvery flashes and splashes.
We followed the flock, circling around them at about 7kph. I took the rod first, since Andrew still doesn’t trust me to pilot the boat. In fairness, if there were one freak rock in the middle of the ocean, I feel pretty sure I’d find it with the outboard motor.
It was my first introduction to trolling or deep-sea fishing.
“Have you got a good hold of the rod?” asked Andrew. “They bite hard.”
He wasn’t joking. When the first one hit, it nearly wrenched the rod out of my hands.
This was when Husband decided to advise me how to reel in kahawai:-
“TIGHTEN THE REEL! KEEP THE ROD DOWN! NO- PULL IT UP! REEL IT IN ON THE DOWNSWING! DON’T DO THAT- YOU’LL LOSE IT! TIGHTEN THE REEL! <EXPLETIVE>! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? REEL IT- HURRY- PULL IT-GAH!”
If that sounds more or less like gibberish to you, it was completely incomprehensible to me. I blame Andrew entirely for losing the first kahawai.
“Ok- you- don’t- what the- don’t shout orders at me! I don’t LIKE IT! Also- and- also, it’s a little LATE to be telling me how to do it when I have a fish on the line!”
Much like having your first CPR tutorial when confronted by a warm, pulse-free body stretched out on the floor in front of you.
I reeled in the second fish like a pro. Almost calmly, I tightened my reel – Andrew having shown me the twiddle – I hauled, I reeled on the downswing. When the fish was within reach, Andrew grabbed the line and swung it into the boat.
The span of my arms is insufficient to demonstrate how big that fish was.
After Andrew took the hook out of its mouth, it leaped out of the boat like Free Willy.
It seems obvious the men in my life are engaged in a conspiracy to sabotage my fishing career.