Overnight fishing trip

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
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Trip End Feb 27, 2006


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Sunday, January 8, 2006

Ann was impressed with the boardwalk that Graeme and me had made - it meant that a walk to the boat was no longer a hardship. I was surprised to hear that they'd not been out fishing for a whole year, and Graeme attributed it in part to the unavoidable walk through the swamp that immediately created a mess. Not so anymore, as we climbed aboard the little fishing boat with the minimum amount of fuss.

I stayed out of the way while Graeme and Ann did some checks to make sure everything was ok. Just before 3pm, we got the all clear, so off we went in search of fish for dinner...

After about 10 minutes, I joined Ann at the front of the boat and almost immediately, I spotted something jump out of the water in the distance. Graeme thought that it was a killer whale, but changed his mind when he saw another 3 or 4 in close proximity. This was exciting stuff, and so unexpected - they'd never seen dolphins in the area before. I asked Graeme if we were going to get any closer, and he said that our route passed straight through where they were playing.

I grabbed my camera and within seconds, our boat was surrounded by dozens more. It was truely amazing, even surpassing the experience in Kaikoura as there were no other boats to be seen anywhere, and ours was so small. Ann and me were at the front, reaching out to touch the playful dolphins who were following at the side. I was within a whisker of touching one, an indication of how close we were. One particular dolphin was swimming on its side, so we could see its beady eye looking at us. I was still on my hands and knees at this point, and as I leaned over to try and touch one the cheeky devil flapped its tail in the water and I got soaked! I swear the dolphin did that on purpose, but I didn't mind because it felt like we were interacting with them.

They followed us for about 15 minutes, and I had a smile on my face the whole time. It was sad when they eventually pulled away from the boat, but I knew that I'd been lucky and so I wasn't too disheartened. What a great start to the trip, and we were all on a high as we reflected on the dolphins' antics.

Not long after the dolphins had left us, we put the anchor out and got organised...we had fish to catch! Graeme set a few lines on the go, and within minutes one of them was twitching, so I watched as he reeled in a couple of snapper. It was like being back at the seafood factory as Graeme sliced them open and threw the guts over the side...the memories came flooding back! When my line started twitching, we got excited because it felt like a big one. Unfortunately, the line got caught in the dinghy that was floating behind us, and the 'shark' escaped! As Ann pointed out, I now have a 'one that got away' story!

We put more bait on the lines, and jumped in the motor powered dinghy - we were going to set some nets in the hope of catching some flounder. Graeme fastened one end of the net to a tree and rowed out, as Ann unravelled the net and put it in the water. They said that we'd return in a couple of hours, by which time there should be a few flounder in amongst it.

Back at the boat, there were a couple of biters waiting to be reeled in. They were also snapper, and by this time we had enough for dinner...that was the main thing! Then, my line started twitching, so under Graeme's supervision I reeled him in, and there were whoops of delight when it emerged...I'd caught a trevally! It was small (but beautifully formed), but I was chuffed because we'd not caught any of those, so I had the obligatory photograph taken of me holding it up - I was as proud as punch!

Later in the evening we returned to check the nets to find a few flounder...and a stingray! Graeme said one had stung him before and it bloody hurt, and he showed me its stinger while it was still in the net - it was about 6 inches long. With stingrays, sharks and killer whales known to visit these waters, I was less than enthusiastic about going for a swim!

As we watched a beautiful sunset, Ann cooked up some of the snapper...and it was delicious. Like she said, I'll never eat a fresher fish than that! A couple of cold beers also went down well, and I then spent a long time playing cards with Graeme. He was trying to teach me how to play Crib, and though bamboozled at first, I eventually got the hang of it...although I kept losing! Graeme had been playing the game with his "cobbers" for 40 years though, so I guess I was the underdog...

Graeme and me slept in the tiny cabin at the front of the boat that night, while Ann slept in the kitchen area. I could have quite happily stayed in bed longer, but we were up at 6.30am for breakfast - we had to go and set some more nets. So off we went in the dinghy, again in complete solitude from anyone and anywhere. You could see the house up in the distance, and it struck me that they were in an ideal location. So peaceful.

We ate more fish when we returned to the boat, and glimpsed the dolphins splashing around on the horizon. I helped to clean the boat from top to bottom, before relaxing in the sun for an hour at the front. There was another stingray caught up in the nets when we went to do a final check, and Graeme thought nothing of stabbing the thing in the head! I was getting less squirmish as a result of this farmstay, that's for sure.

In the early afternoon, it was time to head off back to the farm. Time had seemed to fly by, especially as we'd been on board for over 24 hours by the time we departed. I'd thoroughly enjoyed my first ever fishing trip, particularly as we'd seen all those dolphins, and I knew what was on the menu for the next couple of days at least...snapper and flounder!
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