Catching Our Own lunch!

Chris Fish

When I signed up for a weeks sailing with Simon and Julie, nobody told me I had to catch my own lunch😧

We’d only been on board for a day when Julie introduced us to the fishing rod. I must say, the equipment had seen better days. And I was not inspired by the sight of a ‘self-locking stainless steel nut’ being used as a method of weighing down a fairly rusty old fishing hook at the end of the line.

Anyway, Julie proceeded to demonstrate the use of the equipment by hooking a piece of stale bread onto the rusty hook and dropping the line over the side of the boat.  I was expectantly awaiting a bite, and Julie reeling in our lunch. This did not happen. Fish, no bigger than my little finger, proceeded to enjoy a meal of stale bread until they had skilfully exposed the rusty hook.  Then the fish move on with their lives in tack.  Julie then offered the rod to me, bemoaning her luck.

I felt a new strategy was needed.

Simon mentioned ‘a box of fishing bits’ left on the boat by the previous owner, and a float lurking on the captains chart table that he and Julie had procured some weeks previously.

I inspected the box with anticipation, which quickly turned to slight disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, there was some good stuff lurking in that box – but it needed assembling in the right order.

I decided the new strategy would involve the float.  I retired to the front deck of the boat and skilfully reconstructed the ‘business end’ of the fishing equipment to incorporate the float, re-use of the ‘self locking nut’ as a method of weighing down the line, a brand new hook, with the hook strategically positioned 1.5 meters below the float. Why 1.5 meters? Because I could see the ‘little finger’ sized fish on the surface, but the ‘big buggers’ were much lower👍

So far so good.  But what do big fish like to eat? Not bread, clearly. So I negotiated with the head chef that evening (Dave) to use some of the shop bought Swordfish steak as bait.  I was kindly given two slithers of skin with a little bit of flesh on it. Well, beggars can’t be choosers, so I accepted his offer.

With bait applied to the new hook, I cast the line expectantly over t!he side of the boat.  And waited. To my surprise, the float, which was bobbing on the surface for a few moments, rapidly disappeared at least a metre below the surface of the sea. My surprise turned to disappointment as the float rapidly re-surfaced with no fish on the hook. I felt I was getting somewhere!

These larger Greek fish though are fast learners, and chose to ignore my bait and hook for the rest of the evening. I spent much of the evening watching a float bobbing up and down in a sea of small fish.  Yes, the ‘little finger’ sized fish had also learnt quickly and had descended to a depth of 1.5 metres to enjoy a meal of swordfish steak without once biting on the hook.

I felt another new strategy was called for.

Returning to the ‘box of fishing bits’ I noticed some plastic squid.  Surely the ‘big buggers’ would enjoy a meal of squid.  So I developed a new strategy. Instead of fishing when we were anchored, I would fish from the back of the boat whilst we were underway. There are many more big fish in the open sea – and fewer small ones to get in the way – so my expectations began to rise once more.  But what do you do with plastic squid that will entice a fish to enjoy a meal of plastic, with a metal core of fishing hook?

Chris Fish 1
I resorted to google.  I immediately became alarmed.  The internet waxed lyrical about catching large Tuna, Swordfish, and more worryingly, Barracuda in the waters around Lefkas!!! I needed a stronger line.  I looked in the ‘box of fishing bits’. There was a reel of brand new fishing line which was much stronger that that currently on the reel.  So I removed the old flimsy line from the reel and replaced it with the stronger line.  I also made sure I had at least 60 metres of line – the Internet advised this length to avoid the wake of the boat. There were also some lovely pictures of plastic squid with hooks carefully hidden within the lure.

Armed with the new line, the plastic squid with hidden hook, and renewed confidence, I waited for our next trip to sea.

Casting the line from the back of the boat I let out the full 60 metres and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  The Ionian Sea is clearly devoid of fish.  They must be on holiday somewhere.

Another new strategy was needed.

That evening I observed a local fisherman, fishing from the back of his moving boat as we were anchored in a beautiful bay.  He was doing something that I was not – he was gently pulling on the line and releasing the line over and over again.  He caught fish.  Well, at least I knew the fish were back from holiday and were clearly hungry. I needed random movement of the plastic squid.

Armed with a new fishing technique, I awaited our next trip to sea.

Casting the line from the back of the boat I let out the full 60 metres of line and, gently ‘playing’ the line, I waited.  And then BANG! A fish had tried to eat my plastic squid! And then – nothing.  The fish had escaped.  Was it me? Was it the equipment? Was it the technique? NO, I had this cracked and I was now ready to catch our lunch.

Time passed.  But after 30 minutes or so – BANG! Another bite and this time the fish was on the line. Excitement on the boat. Cameras out. I started to reel in the catch.  Then I thought – what if this is a Tuna? Or a Swordfish? Or worst of all, a Barracuda? Plan b was in my mind – which involved a knife to cut the line😧

I kept reeling in. The fish surfaced. Ok, not a really big fish, and thankfully not a barracuda, but certainly big enough to eat.  I called for the landing net.  Clearly the previous owner did not successfully catch fish from this boat – there was no landing net.  I called for a bucket.  Hilary called the fish ‘Freddie the fish’. Oh dear, I thought, this could be a problem when I kill Hilary’s new pet with the winch handle in a few moments.

Simon slows the boat. Autopilot is on. Simon steps down to the back of the boat with the bucket – conveniently with rope attached to the handle.  The fish is landed in the bucket and brought on board.  Excitement all round.  We have our lunch!!  Or do we??

After the obligatory photos, thoughts turn to how we transform beautiful Freddie into a fish kebab.  The girls disappear as I grasp Freddie in one hand and the yacht winch handle in the other. The winch handle descends ………….

Dave has prepared for the next step of turning Freddie into lunch – and is armed with a couple of sharp knives.  With the girls still missing, Freddie is rapidly turned from fish to fillet – is bagged and placed in the fridge, ready to take his place on the lunchtime menu.

With renewed vigour and confidence I cast the line back into the blue sea, and seek out Freddie’s brothers and sisters.

Eventually, we did indeed catch our own lunch.

Chris Fish 5

With Simon and Julie now successfully armed with the properly configured equipment and a sound fishing strategy, I fully expect them to enjoy many more fish lunches throughout their stay in the Mediterranean. I’m not quite sure who will wield the yacht Winch or sharp knives though – so you guys probably need to invite Dave and myself back again!!!

One word of caution though – there’s barracuda in these waters. Stay clear of them👍

Thanks for a great week Simon and Julie.  We all had a ball.

Chris, Hilary, Dave & Sue.

Now we hear from Sue, written on their last day:-

September 2017.What a week, we have all achieved so many personal goals;
For me being terrified of sailing but by the end of the week having embraced and in love with Greek islands and SiJu and you guessed it sailing too
Greece has run out of gin. And Metaxa. And Sambuka. And beer. And wine of all colours. We have had a brilliant time keeping pace with Julie and Simon!!!!!
But to the serious stuff. Day 1 was a bit windy. In fact, we spent most of the day adjusting lazy lines, stern lines, and losing sunglasses blown off into the drink. Yes, too windy to get the boat out, so we drank more gin. And wine. And beer.
But the days thereafter were so different. Except for the gin😀
The sun shone, the wind was more reasonable.
So the highlights. Sue learnt that sailing does not necessarily mean you will be ill🤢. In fact, it’s quite pleasant 👍

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