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