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Posts tagged ‘fishing’

Dose of trigger finger

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!”

“I CAN’T!”

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.

Ok so it looks smaller in the photo.

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.

Effluent challenge greater than ever

Cozy Dell

We came down to Oamaru to spend Easter Weekend with the Outlaws. Once we were here, it seemed pointless driving home only to return for the opening of duck shooting. Why not stay and kill two birds with one stone and maybe even an Easter bunny? Or better still, use a rifle.

Ok look, unless you’re vegetarian, I don’t want to hear how cruel hunting is, or how ducks probably don’t think it’s much of a sport (which is hardly surprising not having much in the way of higher intelligence). The living conditions of many domestic animals are appalling and the transfer and processing are crueller than a clean bullet through the head. We can duel if you disagree. (Except I don’t shoot stuff.)

While I’m on the subject, wasn’t the Royal Wedding simply lovely?

The Outlaw’s farm is like our second home. Agent of Death makes a terrific gin and tonic. The tangy aroma of fried fish first thing in the morning. A brown dog multiplied by a factor of three. And I’ve never come across a range of reading material in a bathroom more energising to the lower intestine:

  • New Zealand Fishing News – sample articles: ‘Squid tactics’, ‘Attack of the killer bream’
  • NZ Hunter (with a Deliverance-style picture of a stary dude holding up a set of antlers still attached to the deceased stag) – ‘Pimp your rifle: a new barrel in 7mm SRUM and a dial up scope’
  • Rod & Rifle – ‘Chukar NZ’s toughest gamebird’
  • Country Wide – ‘INSIDE: Special report: Irrigation’
  • Inside Dairy: Your Levy in Action – ‘Managing mastitis’
  • Dairy News – ‘Effluent challenge greater than ever’
  • Farm Trader – ‘Drills, slurry & fertiliser equipment reviewed’
  • Guns & Hunting – ‘Fitting a .223 true-flite barrel with an HCS suppressor’
  • NZ House & Garden – ‘Screenprinting made simple’
  • Country Living – ‘Organic tweeds for today’

My bowels have achieved an efficiency and precision that is, literally, moving.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of our dog. The change in his diet – goats milk, deer tongue, putrid rabbits – has resulted in some terrifying emissions from his butt. Sometimes opening the bedroom door in the morning sends a shock-wave sweeping through the house.

The other evening, Husband and I took Jed down to Cozy Dell, known locally as Nooky Cove, to wash off some of his insulating crust of cow shit. The temperature was perky. However, the light was gorgeous, with the late sun slanting low through the trees.

Husband's builder's bum was a bit camera-shy that day.

'Thank you' is Jed's command to give up whatever's in his mouth. For a dog, he has beautiful manners.

Husband builds cairn. Only because he knocked it over in the first place.

Jed waits for the off.

As a bonus, here’s a couple of vids of Jed diving for his water-logged tennis ball. He hasn’t QUITE figured out how to breathe underwater. Yet.

Jed lets Husband know just how cold the water is:

Queen of Cod

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.

The Fish That Got Away All Because Of Dad

As a child, I wasn’t given much opportunity to demonstrate my breathtaking skill with a fishing rod.

My journey to expert angler commenced when my father took the family up to Curraghmore Lake, one of the dark pockets of water in the Magillycuddy Reeks. He also brought a fishing rod which was no doubt state of the art circa 1940.

I believe my mother and I were expected to pick flowers and/or watch admiringly from a rock, while Dad introduced his sons to the noble art of fishing. He probably envisioned bonding with his sons, you know: back-slapping, telling dirty jokes and smoking cigars while providing for his family.

In retrospect, the expedition was doomed. Dad’s really more a finger-pointer than a back-slapper, and he’s never told a joke any dirtier than mildly smutty, and not only does he not smoke but Eoin and Daire would have been about 7 and 3 years old respectively so the whole chomping cigars thing would have been somewhat inappropriate.

To seal his doom, I’ve never been much into picking flowers or, for that matter, being told what to do (these conditions persist to this day). So after about half an hour impatiently watching Dad, Eoin and Daire, I demanded a go.

Dad finally succumbed when I threatened to cry.

We stood on a large rock overlooking the lake and Dad reluctantly handed over the rod. I cast inexpertly and the sullen waters of Curraghmore Lake swallowed the lure without a sound.

At this point I got a little flustered because I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. Dad was getting over-excited about winding in the reel, whatever THAT was. Also, because I was about 9, my attention span was pretty much fully occupied with whining.

Dad was snatching at the rod and I was grizzling something along the lines of, “Da-ad! Get o-off! It’s MY TURN.”

Dad barked, “Just- wind it in wind it in! You’ll get it STUCK!”

The line jerked, and I said something like, “Aww Dad it’s broke-e-en! This is stupid.”

And Dad issued one of those projectile TUT!s that are a skill acquired with children, and said, “Ach, now look what you’ve done. It’s stuck.”

Having finally located the windy thing, I was lack-lustrely turning it, when there was a splash and a fish flipped over the surface of the water.

“Look!” I screamed. The line whizzed.

“Give it here!” roared Dad and grappled the rod off me.

If he’d landed it, I’m sure the event would have been fully obscured by the mists of time and never referred to again. Happily (for me if not my long-suffering father) the story: ‘How Dad Lost My Fish’, or ‘The Fish That Got Away All Because Of Dad’, has passed into family legend. I try to reference it at least once during any reunion of one or more family members.

(My brothers are complicit in swearing it was the biggest fish in the whole of Ireland, possibly the world, possibly ever.)

Also see: the story of Trevor the Trout.

Husband and I are currently working on some family legends of our own.

Seadog

Our young seadog blowing a raspberry.

I gave Husband a fishing boat for his birthday.

I know, I know: love makes you do crazy stuff. Also, I’m generous.

Unfortunately, Andrew had to sell his roadbike to facilitate my generosity. I couldn’t afford to buy the boat for him, since my career as an impoverished author nets me an average annual income of roughly $20 – or a third share in a lifejacket.

Equally unfortunately, I own nothing of value that I could sell to augment the boat fund. Second-hand dogs don’t fetch much on Trademe, and while I suppose there’s a family member or two I could auction, the logistics would be tricky unless I could export them from Ireland to close the deal.

On second thoughts, I should TOTALLY have done that.

But, no. No, no. I don’t want to hector or lecture or moralise, and I’ve never been into using my beliefs as blunt instruments (although I have been known to occasionally tickle people with them if the right moment presents itself); however, in this case I’ll make an exception:

Slavery is WRONG, folks.

Since collecting the boat three weeks ago, we’ve made a number of excursions to identify the optimal fishing spots around Port Underwood – or, more accurately, eliminate the worst. So far, we’ve caught one legal blue cod and various sea vegetables. I’m considering changing my name officially to The Kelpie Queen.

We wondered how The Jedster would take to the boat, since he isn’t a consummate kayak enthusiast. He definitely prefers the boat, demonstrating an impressive knack of always being precisely where you don’t want him.

He’s much more interested in the process of fishing. At least, he’s the only one going for our bait, having developed a keen taste for re-frozen squid. His new favourite game is attempting to impale his tongue on a fishing hook.

Jed has more faith in our ability to catch fish than we do; when we drop our lines, he stands at the side of the boat quivering and peering intently into the water.

It’s touching how excited Jed gets when we start reeling in. He gets pretty peeved when we throw back undersized fish or kelpie; when we went fishing off the rocks, he used to dive in after them. So far, we have dissuaded him from trying the same trick from the boat.

So, we've taught him to SIT! on the boat. Now all we have to do is train him to catch fish, and/or not capsize the boat.

Husband allows me pilot the boat.

The Fish Whisperer

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.

Introduction to frozen water

090723 Logs

Although we emailed sporadically, and I met up with Helen when I passed through Dubai on the way to and from Ireland last year, the reality is we don’t know each other that well. Up to recently, all we had in common was a mutual appreciation for floating in briny water in a manner similar to giant gherkins.

Still, three months ago when Helen asked me to join her on a road trip during her week’s holiday from Dubai, I thought it was a marvellous idea. The open road, floaty skirts, the drowsy scent of pollen, floppy hats, sunglasses, takeaway coffee.

As the date approached, I got increasingly anxious. What if Helen and I ran out of conversation? What if we fell out over fuel? What if Helen bit Jed? What if my snoring kept her awake all night?

Happily, my fears had no basis in reality. On the Sunday morning, Helen’s friend Cathy saw us off with cheesy muffins and roasted pears with cinnamon.

In Tokoroa, we stopped briefly at the lookout point above the town, where Jed tested the limits of his digestive system with a MacDonald’s cheeseburger plus wrapping and an empty crisp packet.

We stayed with another two of Helen’s friends, Kim and Seamus, on their farm just south of Tokoroa. They have three boys, Kieran, Mossie and Padraic; a poster of the nine times tables on the bathroom door; and the ‘ladder of certain doom’ on the fridge. We spent the evening chatting over a bottle or several of wine.

Next morning, Helen and I drove on south, giving Jed a run at Huka Falls.

090723 Huka Falls

The Falls

090723 Helen and Jed

Helen and Jed

090723 Me and Jed

Me and Floppychops

We stopped in Taupo for lunch and a pair of walking boots for Helen (to wear). I also bought a Tongariro 260-T19 topo map, and a Kiwimaps New Zealand Compact Travellers Atlas with six large scale regional touring maps and nine city and town center maps. It was tremendously exciting to know my location.

We arrived in Turangi in the early afternoon and checked out our accommodation: a spacious two-bedroom chalet for $120 at Creel Lodge next to the Tongariro River. The bathroom door featured a map of recommended trout pools along the Tongariro River. It really inspired my bowels – although not as much as the nine times tables.

I had brought two mountain bikes on the rack on the back of the Hilux Surf. After check-in, we returned to Reception to ask about the biking trail to the Pillars of Hercules.

“Where does the trail start?” I asked.

“No idea,” said Richard.

“But it’s on the Creel Lodge website.”

“Really? What does it say?”

“Er. Two hour bike ride, easy grade, fifteen to twenty minutes drive from Turangi Village.”

“Sounds lovely. Be sure to let us know how you get on.”

I whipped out my topo map and located the Pillars of Hercules. We drove about 10km south on the SH1, then turned left onto Kaimanawa Road. We parked 2km up the road, and biked up a logging trail that ran to the south west. Considering Helen had never set arse on a mountain bike, she did exceptionally well.

090723 Helen gets to grip with biking

Helen gets to grips with biking

090723 Coffee break

I don’t know if you can tell from the photo (above) that the cold was bitter in the late afternoon. It was a gradual uphill route, and a section of the trail was overgrown, so we soon warmed up. The puddles were all iced over – Jed’s first introduction to frozen water. He was understandably cautious about this this dangerous, unknown and potentially threatening new experience: galloping towards the puddles and leaping into the middle of them feet-first.

The path eventually gave onto a crazy Kiwi swingbridge, suspended hundreds of metres above the Tongariro River below. Jed was entirely dubious: he ventured out a few paces before scuttling back to firm ground, gaining a little more headway each time; then shot past me in the middle of the bridge to gain the far side where the whole process started again.

090723 Swing bridge

090723 Jed

090723 Pillars of Hercules

We carried on to the Urchin Camping Ground, then freewheeled down the main road back to the car.

The following day, we got up early and biked up Tree Trunk Gorge and north (this time) to the Pillars of Hercules again. In a bizarre phenomenon, although we returned to the car the same way, it seemed to be uphill in both directions.

We were on the road by midday. I am delighted to report that by the time we reached Auckland six hours later, far from running out of things to say, Helen and I had barely even started

090723 The way back

The Christmas wind up

In its usual style, Christmas sneaked up and ambushed us.

For the previous three weeks, we entertained noble notions of getting the Christmas shopping done early. Although we technically ‘shopped’ on three occasions – ie trudged sulkily around a mall – up to yesterday we had failed dismally to actually purchase anything. Thankfully, we now have presents for all our friends and Husband organized a production line last night for the gift wrapping thereof.

Husband wanted to get Danny a set of walkie-talkies but experienced difficulties in the supply thereof. Personally, I can’t understand what Daniel would want to do with a pair of walkie talkies. I asked Husband about it:-

“Doesn’t he have a mobile phone?”

“Yes, but a walkie talkie has different applications.”

“Who d’you think he’s going to be chatting to on his walkie talkie?”

“Hmm. Not sure. I don’t know. But! – he could go down to the beach and pick out a hot girl and slip the walkie talkie into her beach bag!”

“Right. But wouldn’t he have to stay within 500 metres of Hot Girl for the walkie talkie to work?”

“Ah, yes.”

“So why doesn’t he just STALK her?”

“Ok, maybe that’s not the most practical of applications.”

In the end he bought Danny a remote controlled helicopter. Just what every man needs.

Yesterday we threw a Chrismas Eve do and told our guests to arrive any time from 3pm. Four weeks ago, this seemed like a simply fantabulous idea – I mean what else would we be up to on Christmas Eve? I now realize I simply don’t have that enough guff in me for 8+ hours of random sociability and Husband certainly doesn’t.

However, I contrived a Grand Plan, the cornerstone of which was the mulled wine. I figured if I threw enough of it around, everyone would be semi- to totally comatose by 6pm and wouldn’t notice the soggy Brussels sprouts or the turkey which was more in the style of chicken. It worked a treat, given that our crappy gas oven turned itself off halfway through the evening – nobody seemed to notice the fact that dinner was served at 10pm.

After the Great Minced Pie Wars of 2004 which almost resulted in acrimonious divorce (I don’t know about Husband, but I actually consulted a lawyer), we reached an amicable agreement to procure whatever format of minced pie(s) were available in Spinneys. Yesterday morning I finished spackling the Christmas cake with almond paste, formally approved the mulled wine recipe and chose the optimal stuffing for the churckey’s nether regions.

[Just an aside – three weeks ago, I came across an Irish cookbook in the Second Hand Bookshop in Satwa. It’s the second edition of ‘The Ballymaloe Cookbook’, published in 1983. I looked forward to some old-fashioned cooking: serving Hsuband Mussels Stuffed With Pig Trotters, Roast Rabbit with Tripe and making my own vegetable bouillon.

Yesterday I consulted my cookbook for what would no doubt be a tastebud exploding recipe for stuffing which would result in a three day sensory high. I turned eagerly to the recipe for ‘Roast Chicken’.

I suspect I may have missed class 101 in my culinary education. Here is what the recipe states:

Prepare a fresh-herb buttery stuffing. Wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half fill with stuffing. Roast in a good quality dripping. Serve with creamy bread sauce.

I reverted to Paxo’ Sage and Onion Stuffing – comes in a bag. Add water.]

Husband was designated Master of the Fowl. For a man into his huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’, he was surprisingly squeamish when it came to stuffing the chickens. He was heard to say: ‘It goes WHERE?’ and then he pulled faces and squealed like a girl.

This morning we all woke up with headaches, but the excitement of opening Christmas presents chased most of it away (that and Panadol/Brufen depending on the class of drug preferred). Husband got a pair of cufflinks in the form of spirit levels, so he can demonstrate to clients that he’s on the level ha ha ha. David got an 8Gb multi media player and is inexplicably very excited about it. I got a mountain bike – I’ve actually had it for a few days now and cycle around the neighbourhood. I felt like I was eight years old again just without the training wheels. I got some bicycle accessories this morning, including the most irritating bell in the world (the hangovers might have influenced that judgement).

I’m going to go and try it out on the neighbours.

Have a great Christmas!

One of my finest moments

A friend of The Real Outlaws’ offered to take us out on Lake Te Anau in his boat this morning. The plan was to moor at the other side of the lake and take a trek up river to do some fishing.

I was not heartened by the blokes – packing their waders – advising me that I should expect to get my boots wet. In my opinion, there are very few sports that merit the sacrifice of toasty feet, and I’m just not that keen an angler yet. So I was pretty dubious. And the morning would have given a polar bear acute hypothermia. I was packed in six layers, daintily garnished with a scarf, hat and gloves – but the cold was still nibbling my bone marrow.

On my fourth cast, I got my lure caught under a rock.

Bafflingly, the men seemed to seize upon any opportunity to leap into sub-zero waters, as illustrated by a fishing trip two days ago where Andrew got wet up to his ARMPITS. (The theory appears to be that the greater the suffering, the better the experience – a bit like Catholicism, although perhaps more sensible). Anyway, discarding shoes and socks, I made a futile attempt to retrieve my lure, giving up when the water lapped playfully at my groin.

It was half an hour before I could feel my toes again – and only a painful tingle now and then at that.

The Goat Mistress and I left the real men to their crotch-dampening experiences, and made our arid way up river through The Bush. I was suffering a confidence crisis, having lost one lure and snagged my replacement several times. In fact, I had not had any luck during our fishing trips in Te Anau – I’d got to the stage where I didn’t even know whether I’d recognise a fish chomping away on the end of my line. Agent of Death liked to say I was their “Jonah” (as in: “You’re our bladdy Jonah, you are”).

Obviously, I came back strongly, accusing him of pawning me off with a substandard fishing reel (it squeaked) and crappy mono-chromatic lures. But internally, I was seriously questioning my whole angling career.

And then along came Trevor.

We were kicking our way through a particularly overgrown section of Bush, when The Goat Mistress said, “Oh, there might be a good fishing pool here,” and inexplicably set off punching her way through a great mass of impenetrable foliage.

“Oh shite not again,” I thought, but figured I’d better humour my Mother-In-Law.

“Look, that might be a good bet,” said The Goat Mistress, teetering on the brink of a short bank above a nondescript pool.

“Try in there,” she said, settling herself comfortably on the bank.

Well, I hadn’t got a lot else on at the time, so I resignedly unhooked my lure and made a couple of half-hearted casts into the pool. Agent of Death says if you’re going to catch a fish it will be within the first six casts. I was on the sixth and more concerned with how to suggest to The Goat Mistress that we find a big rock to sit on and contemplate lunch, when there was a tension on the line and, “Oh bugger,” I thought with a sinking feeling, “I’ve caught the bloody lure in the tree.”

I didn’t fancy wading in to unhook the damn thing – but wait! Was that a tug I felt?

“I think… I think I might have caught something,” I said to The Goat Mistress incredulously. “No… yes… no… yes, yes it might be… it might be… a FISH!”

I was trying to reel in the line and having some problems; the rod was jerking all over the show.

“Where is it?” The Goat Mistress shouted.

And then next thing, this WHALE broke the surface of the water. “Look!” I screamed, and tried to point, but the reel went berserk, so I figured I’d better keep a grip on it.

“Help! Help!” shrieked The Goat Mistress, presumably trying to attract the attention of The Real Men, of whom there was no sign. They were probably balancing on a rock somewhere in the deepest, fastest-flowing section of river.

“What do I do?” I bawled at poor Goat Mistress, whose only advice at that point was: “Keep the tup down! Keep the tup down!”

After further urgent exchanges, The Goat Mistress and I agreed that the best course of action would be to wear Trevor out.

“Give him his head when he struggles, and reel him in when he’s tired,” muttered The Goat Mistress, staring intently with narrowed eyes at the last place Trevor had been spotted.

Well, it was a long hard battle and I had no idea what I was doing. The hook must have been embedded fairly deep in poor Trevor’s mouth, because I gave him every opportunity to wriggle away to snap at minnows another day.

Eventually, after several minutes cursing and hauling, Trevor was within spitting distance of the bank and Goat Mistress’s patience snapped. Disregarding all consideration of dry feet, she splashed into the water, punched Trevor on the nose, grabbed him by the tail and hauled him up on the bank, where she kicked him – really fairly viciously – in the head.

The woman has a lot of latent aggression.

The hook was indeed wedged far down Trevor’s throat. Now, I’ve always baulked at the thought of extracting a lure from a fish’s mouth, but I exceeded all expectations (mine) by using a hunting knife to pick the hook out of Trevor’s gob.

Next thing, with remarkably good timing – for us – the Real Men appeared on the horizon, complete with soggy crotches and buckets of no fish.

“Hold it up by the gills!” hissed The Goat Mistress – which I did, ignoring the blood and general ick factor – “Not over the water!” As if Trevor hadn’t been busy negotiating the turbulent waters of the Pearly Gates for the last five minutes.

“Look what we got!” we sang, and I waved Trevor at The Real Men. Trevor, the great big hairy-arse brown trout, 5lbs of him (according to Agent of Death’s official weighing scales).

The Real Men looked soggily sullen.

Later, I was obliged to gut Trevor, which was a traumatic affair. My lying, cheating, no-good, low-down husband of mine said: “Don’t worry, Agent of Death’ll do most of it.” So we went out to the back of the truck, where Agent of Death stood fingering his hunting knife.

Freddy Kreuger could take lessons in horror from this man.

“Right,” said Agent of Death, when he’d pressed the knife into my trembling hand. “First, hold him upside down. UPSIDE DOWN. Yep, like that. Now, stick the point of the knife in his pie-‘ole.”

“Er, excuse me,” I said uncertainly. “His pie-‘ole?”

“The shitter,” said Agent of Death succinctly. He pointed.

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” I asked, trying to keep the gag-reflex under control.

Agent of Death just sniggered, evilly.

“Oh, Trevor!” I lamented soundlessly.

And so I gutted poor Trevor, Agent of Death insisting on inspecting his stomach contents – “Ooh look! What’s this? He’s been a hungry boy.”

From the state of his kidneys I’d say Trevor might’ve had a bit of a drink problem, although otherwise, he was apparently in good condition. Light pink flesh – allegedly indicating a healthy diet of crustaceans.

Despite a shower and nail-inspection, I still have most of Trevor’s entrails under my finger-nails

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