A day on the water with Bill

Snapper fishing

The promise of fresh Snapper was the huge attraction of fishing with Bill in the Bay of Islands. A hot, sunny day and a few cold beers weren’t exactly a turn off either. Setting out at high tide in the early morning meant we could use the river entrance from the beach, and therefore shorten our launch time considerably. So off we set, with beer, bait, rods, sun block, hats, life jackets and high hopes all on board, in roughly a north easterly direction, towards one of Bill’s “secret” spots. Though judging by the number of boats in the nearby vicinity, not as secret as we thought. Captain Bill, with half an eye on the fish-finder, decides on the perfect spot, and we toss over the anchor. Out comes the bait, quickly cut up and firmly fixed to each of the two hooks on our lines. On goes the sun block and hat, out comes the beer and over go the lines, and we watch as the weight take them towards the bottom of the sea. Just a matter now of hauling them all in until our quota is filled. Just a short time later, that unmistakable tug of a fish nibbling at the bait. I play it a little and with a sudden jerk manage to get it hooked to my line – “Come to daddy, baby – Crack open the bubbly Billy, we’re dining in style tonight – there’s a monster at the end of this line”. Which, was probably what the fish was thinking too. Just a short struggle later, I haul my prize winning Snapper in, and discover it put up one big fight for such a small fish – not even close to being the legal size. So I unhook it, kiss it on the nose (a time honoured tradition, so Bill tells me ), and toss it back – “Come back when you’re a big boy !”. It was a cycle repeated too often for my liking, and I’m convinced it was the same fish coming back each time for another kiss ! Fortunately Bill was faring better and we soon had enough fish on board to represent a respectable catch, and avoid any derision from our wives back ashore.

Fresh scallops in New Zealand

“Feel like some fresh scallops ?” queries Bill, in what was clearly a rhetorical question. So we haul our lines on board, up anchor and head off to another “secret” spot. Being a man for all occasions, Bill dons his wet suit, and scuba gear, attaches the dive flag to the boat, and dives overboard with his catch bag. A matter of 20 minutes pass and he’s back on board with a bag full of scallops. We pick out the biggest 30 and toss the rest back. As a special treat, Bill shucks opens a couple of them and introduces me to the delight of fresh, pulsating, scallop. Quite delectable. The rest we save for later. Time to head back, to show off the catch, exaggerate a few fishing stories, and enjoy some fine wine with fresh Snapper and scallops. Life doesn’t get much better.