We turned up bright and early for our fishing trip where we met our skipper Mark and another couple who had paid for the trip. The couple, however, had paid for a 3 hour trip so we managed to get an extra hour free. Bonus!
It took about 20 minutes or so to get to our fishing spot where we were pretty much guaranteed to catch sea perch. But our ultimate goal was to catch the expensive Blue Cod. Whatever we caught, we could keep but we had agreed that whatever the four of us caught, apart from blue cod, we would split between us all. Eager to get going, Mark set all our lines up and all we had to do was drop the line until it hit the bottom of the sea then wind the line up around 10 times and wait for some nibbles.
Mark demonstrated for us and the next thing we know, he’s got two sea perch wriggling about on the end of the two hooks! The perches aren’t the most attractive fish. They had large heads and are spikey so to get them off the hook, you need to grab a towel and hold it around the fish to unhook it. Fresh out the sea, Mark used this stick thing and kind of injected it into the head to kill the fish before filleting it ready for us to take home. It looks so easy.
Now it’s our turn. I dropped the line down and followed Mark’s instructions. I could feel nibbles so I made a few yanks and then started winding the line back up. Lo and behold, two perch are wriggling on the end of my hooks. I looked over at John and he also had two perches on the end of his hooks. Neither myself or John fancied trying to unhook them as we didn’t like the spikes. The other couple were also doing well.
But as we started to pull up the fish, we noticed that a few albatrosses had started to hang around near the boat. Mark explained that these albatrosses were looking to poach the fish we were catching so when we pull the fish up, we have to be quick! The albatrosses were HUGE! I couldn’t believe how big they were. After filleting the fish, Mark threw the head and bones to the biggest albatross which just swallowed the entire thing whole!
After around 40 minutes or so, myself and John started feeling a little seasick. I sat down for a few minutes and then continued fishing. Around this time, the fish appeared to have disappeared and we weren’t hooking many fish. So Mark decided to take us to another spot. The fact that we were moving helped the seasickness. So I felt okay after that.
We caught a few more perch and the lady in the other couple managed to catch a blue cod.
After around 15 minutes at this second spot, John was really struggling with his seasickness and as I pulled up my line with a couple of perch on the end, John threw up right next to me. I’ll be sure to wash all the fish thoroughly before we eat them! Pale-faced, he had to take a break.
In total, we caught around 5 or 6 perch each which we could keep. We caught a lot more but they were too small to keep so we had to throw them back in the water. After a while, we decided to head back to the shore but stopping off to check on Mark’s crayfish pots. As we were on our way to the crayfish pots, John was started throwing up again, but then there was a shout from Mark saying that there were dolphins. Not wanting to miss this, John rushed over to the other side of the boat and managed to see the dolphins swim right by the boat.
After about 20 minutes or so, we went crayfishing. Last night Mark had placed bait into three crayfish pots. When he pulled them out last night, he had caught 4 crayfish, so he said that if we didn’t want to take live ones home with us we could have some dead ones which he had cooked and frozen. We lifted the pots and we had only caught a disappointing two. We would take the cooked ones back with us anyway.
When we got back to shore, Mark’s wife was there with a bag of four cooked crayfish. We took one home each. Given that crayfish are very expensive, and we came home with around 10 fillets of perch too, I think we’ve had a bargain trip. Plus we saw some bonus sea life, like the albatross and the dolphins. Apart from the seasickness, it was a great day trip and I would love to do it again. I think we made a great decision yesterday choosing fishing over whale watching.
After the morning fishing trip, we made some cheese and pepper on toast for lunch and drove to Blenheim where we stopped off for a hot fudge sundae in McDonalds. We then drove to Picton and had a quick drink in a bar to use the Internet.
In the evening, we had our poshest meal yet in a campervan – one crayfish, 3 grilled perch fillets, salad and potato. The perch is very meaty as is the crayfish. Not a very backpackery meal at all and one which was very nice. Fresh fish is the best!
We found a little residential area where we parked up for the night for free before our early start to catch the ferry back to the North Island tomorrow.