Monday, August 17, 2009
Sometimes words seem entirely inadequate to full express the magnitude of an experience. Deep sea fishing off Hervey Bay is an example of my current dilemma…but I shall valiantly attempt to do so regardless. As I wobbled my way from my bed to the keyboard this morning…aching from head to foot I am struck by the notion that I am forever changed. What can I say? If you’ve never done it you simply must! (already with the cliches) Aussie and I load up the BT-50 early Friday morning and set off north for the four hour trip up the coast, picking up Spaz and Johnny on the way. Wearing my best cream woolen coat and jeans the guys rib me endlessly on the way. I soon realise this was a fair call when we board the boat at the Hervey Bay mariner: the Aussie Rules it was not. My accommodation for the next three days was a stinking damp cupboard sized cabin in the hull of a filthy charter boat. Our opening safety instructions warned of the perils of using the toilet or shower in the bow of the ship whilst the boat was in motion. Apparently people have cracked ribs and skulls attempting to do so…fabulous. With a gutful of sea sickness tablets, ten seasoned fisherman and a first-timer set sail in the dark for the overnight passage into the ocean. Our destination: one hundred and twenty kilometres off-shore. I was rocked to sleep that first night: my head resting on a hard and putrid pillow (note to self: take own bedding and plastic drop sheet next time) Not a glamorous beginning I think to myself…but these feelings melt away the moment I step onto the deck early the next morning…breathtaking views of nothing but swelling ocean and sun. All my fears were forgotten in that instant and despite a vow to wear a life-jacket all weekend, I didn’t reach for one then nor for the rest of the trip. Dressed like a grub I hit the ground running. Let the games begin! Aussie hands me his rod to take care of while he rigs up mine. The moment I grab it and steady myself the line begins tugging and I pull in a four kilo Pearl Perch from one hundred metres below. Stoked! This fishing lark is easy I say to myself…but alas the action stops. You know that saying ‘watched water never boils’? Everytime someone lit a cigarette or cracked open a beer their rod would bend. Sure enough, the moment I sat down to eat breakfast there’s a shout from the deck. ‘Someone’s rod’s going off!’…oh man…that’s mine! Whatever the hell that was down there was freakin’ BIG…everyone swarmed around me to shout encouragement and God knows I needed it. I was pulling in a monster from one hundred and fifty metres below the surface and I thought my arms were going to fall off such was the effort…but I kept at it. Got me a seven kilo Red Snapper I did!!! From that point I made sure my rod was bending all weekend…I was hooked! (sorry…had to be done) All in all I bagged two Pearl Perch (both around four kilo) two Pig Fish, two Parrot fish, a huge bloody Cod and the mammoth SNAPPER! I would have had a few more if it weren’t for the opportunistic sharks snagging the big ones on the way up (the first time I wrangled a shark I was nearly pulled into the ocean…yet I kept on regardless…are you proud of me?) I fell exhausted into bed around 8pm that second night but found it difficult to sleep. We were anchored near a continental shelf and the waves relentlessly slapped the boat…a sensation akin to swimming with earplugs inside the bladder of a waterbed. Again the day time more than made up for any discomfort. We saw plenty of humpback whales up close: breaching magnificently and slapping the surface with their dorsal fins (sorry the photos are blurry...need more memory) and sea birds jackknifing the surface but the highlight was being up on the front deck while the boat rode the waves as the skipper manoeuvered us through the sand bar. To top it off a school of dolphins raced along with us! The perfect weekend. I’m burnt and sore but very very happy…might have to bake me a fish tonight…mashed potato stuffing, lots of greenery, chilli, garlic and lemon!