It is wonderful being home again, despite the lavishly wet display the weather has put on since we arrived. It’s also terrific having Husband back after over a month. Eh, suppose I must like him.
Of course, after a weeks’ intense, touching reunion, we’re about due to have an absolute crockery-endangering rip-snorter of an argument. It’s a pattern; usually prompted by Andrew’s asking whether I have fed the dog, and my responding, “Well who the <expletive deleted> do you think fed the <expletive deleted> dog all last month? HMM?”
(In this particular instance the answer would in fact be Agent of Death, who fed Jed with the other farm dogs, but no matter. I’m feeling twitchy. Especially after a week of Andrew’s nocturnal duvet-rustling raids.)
The weather forecast for the weekend was uninspiring, but when Friday dawned beautiful and sunny we decided to go fishing. Ken Ring’s fishing calendar predicted ‘very good’ fishing for 1pm.
I’m somewhat ashamed of our reliance on Ken’s Ring, since it rather undermines my opinion that he’s a dodgy chancer. However, it is comforting to know that Andrew and I will always bond over a primary, borderline chartered-accountant level sense of humour – and, well, Ken’s Ring Hurhurhur hasn’t been wrong yet. The alternative is that we’re gifted anglers with a feeling for fish – and actually I have more faith in Ken.
We made our way to the Point, stuffed the dog in the prow of the boat, and while Andrew fiddled with his rod, I baited my hook and unspooled the hand-line. The weight had barely hit the bottom, when the line tugged.
At first I thought it was an aggressive piece of seaweed; but then it yanked violently.
“Bite!” I roared, trying to wind the line onto the hand-caster. “Ooh, it’s a big one. Oh no- has it got off? Yeow! No! Woah!”
My prey seemed to alternate between fighting like a kraken possessed, and swimming towards the light. My arms had the pulling power of spaghetti by the time the fish broke the surface – and he was HUGE.
“What the fuck IS it?” I gasped.
“Get it in the boat!”
So Andrew hauled it in. “I think it’s a groper,” he said. “But that’s not . . . they don’t . . . it’s impossible.”
Port Underwood is not renowned for its swarming shoals of groper.
“Why don’t you just call The Sheriff?” I said, as Andrew looked up pictures of groper on the phone, along with the Ministry of Fisheries website to determine the legal size for groper in this area. “I mean, as long as it’s not a kingfish, it’s well above the legal limit for anything else. Isn’t it?” It was 65cm.
Eventually, while Andrew was distracted admiring pictures of moki, I hijacked his phone and called The Sheriff myself. He issued a staccato burst of technical questions – ‘Does it have whiskers out its chin? / Does it have a big mouth? / What size are its gills?’ – it had a huge gob, protruding eyes and was kinda scaly. The Sheriff was of the opinion that, however unlikely, it sounded like a groper pup.
Andrew cut it into steaks; I rubbed one with Cajun seasoning, dribbled over some oil and lime juice, and baked it for 20 minutes the other night – I would highly recommend it.
The following day, flocks of seagulls wheeled just above the surface of the sea, so we went trolling for kahawai. We had to whack them away with a stick; Andrew resorted to casting off from the stationary boat. At one point, there were three kahawai after the lure as he reeled it in.
We donated three to The Hostess with the Mostest and The Mustachioed Muchacho, and two to The Sheriff and Bunqueen. In return, The Mustachioed Muchacho gave us his top-secret recipe for smoking kahawai, and we now have a stack of it in the fridge.
Dinner this evening was fish pie with smoked kahawai, groper, blue cod and mussels – mmm.