Fish on

“Fish onnnnnnn!” Dylan cheers from the backseat of the Nissan Pathfinder. In front of us are our kind-of new friends and we’re on the way to Rye to try some surf fishing. Well, the boys will, anyway. I packed Toni Lodge’s latest book, “I Don’t Need Therapy (and other lies I have told myself)” to read while on the beach. Graham joins Dylan with the cheers and jokes and I’m sure Kat is manifesting a successful catch. Imagining bucket-loads of fish is how we always start the fishing trips and it’s always a cheerful vibe no matter how many (or few) are caught at the end of the day.

It was a perfect 30-degree day in the middle of a cold summer season. Hot, but cloudy enough to not be scorching. The wooden staircase down to No. 16 Beach was closed (for safety reasons), so we had to make our way through an alternate pathway. I should have worn better shoes, not sandals, but we had decided to go here on the fly. Looking at the big waves, I started to regret not bringing any swimmers just in case we made an impromptu decision to swim on such a beautiful day.

There was so much red seaweed on the shore but we eventually found a spot that wasn’t too bad. There was a stranger fishing (who seems to know what he is doing), so we settled around that way. I set up the folding stool while Dylan prepped his rod. Our friends were out walking on the other side of the beach where the rock pools were and will follow us once they’ve finished exploring. I thought about doing the same, but have been regretting my choice of shoes at the moment, and with the heat and everything I decided to stay lazy and keep Dylan company.

Many people have the impression, I think, that fishing is so boring and there’s nothing to do. Even as someone who just comes along for the ride and doesn’t cast a rod (I’m usually looking after the dogs), I always find it relaxing. I can stare at the sea and look at the waves all afternoon and forget how late it’s gotten. Enjoying fishing is to forget thinking about the day-to-day things. Even the mundane things. I would get so engrossed at the view of the sea, the possibility of a catch, the sound of the large and loud waves, the bold seagulls thieving for food, the dogs sniffing and barking (if they were there), the stories told by the company of friends, the sweet taste of cookies I bring, the dark and light coloured clouds shifting throughout the day, the coming and going of light rain, or the faint silhouette of the moon on the sky. Only on cold, freezing days do I ask to leave sooner; not because I’m bored, but because it’s impossible for me to feel comfortable in chilly temperatures.

Today is no different. By the shade of the rocks, Kat and I chat about anything and everything (I never actually get to read my book) while Graham and Dylan are trying to catch fish. The other guy fishing just beside our spot gave them the raw chicken he was using as bait just before he left. It didn’t take Graham long to catch a parrot fish with it, but that would’ve been the last piece of raw chicken bait we had left because one of the seagulls took off with the rest of the chicken leg. We learned our lesson that day and moved all the bait right beside where us girls were sitting so the seagulls wouldn’t feel bold enough to steal free food.

We thought it was a black cod and threw it back into the sea, but belatedly realised it actually wasn’t.

Feeling that we weren’t having much luck after a while, the boys decide to go to a different pier. Off to Sorrento we went. For some reason, in the few years that Dylan and I have been to Melbourne, we have not really gone around this town. Never really thought about staying overnight for a weekend or even going on a fishing day trip. But looks like the spot was popular enough. It was pretty crowded for a small pier, and luckily we still found some spots.

At the pier was a mix of aussies, chinese, and vietnamese. People aren’t typically chatty when they are fishing, but there was a small group who laid out a mat and seemed to be enjoying their seaside picnic. Their friends will probably fish all night. It also wasn’t the first time I overhear some Filipino conversations at the pier. I never say hi though. I never like to intrude, even though I’m always mildly curious. Some days I wish I were more like my uncle who can easily strike a conversation with strangers and befriend every single soul he talks to. I’m obviously not at that level yet, or perhaps ever.

I was trying to reel in the squid jig that I was assigned to keep a lookout for, because it was floating behind this concrete wall and I couldn’t see if it’ll have any catch if it’s out of my sight. Graham comes to tell me Dylan caught a big Australian salmon, if I wanted to come and see.

Which of course, I did!!

49cm salmon

It took us a while to untangle the hook from the net that one of the older uncles at the pier who helped Dylan pull the fish up with his net. I finally get to hear the story of how Dylan saw some birds at a spot in the sea, estimated he could likely cast that far, and with the lure that Graham gave him actually managed to hook a salmon.

His first salmon!!!

Unfortunately, by the time we sorted out the hook and the net, the school of salmon has already moved on to a different spot so that was our last fish for the day. Which was also not bad! It was actually great! At 9pm it was time to drive back. Dylan had to descale and clean the fish, guts and everything, so we can have some of it as a very late dinner. I love the fact that Dylan knows how to do this because it is a lot of work to clean a big fish. I enjoy the cooking part more than the cleaning of the fish. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, coriander, and butter on the pan was all it took to cook Dylan’s first Australian salmon.

That was a very good day trip, very worth. You gotta have those good days where you bring home a fish to eat to keep yourself going even after a whole week (or two) of not catching any.


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