The prospect of a 2 hour sea fishing trip on a glorious August summer afternoon with 5 fantastic mates was extremely exciting. Apart from a spot of crab fishing aged 5 at Dittisham on the River Dart, it’s fair to say that my fishing experience to date is somewhat limited and the same certainly goes for Browny.
Anna had done her usual, by arranging our day trip with precision and superb execution. You could almost hear Austin Powers shouting out "nerd alert". Once all aboard, our skipper, who some might say, was a rather bored and grumpy old sea-dog, successfully navigated us out of the Kingsbridge estuary avoiding the dozens of infants whizzing around on dingies out into the open seawaters.
It didn’t take long for things to get interesting and soon big rollers were crashing against the side of our vessel, releasing a shower of sea water and spray over us. To say the conditions were rough would be a gross exaggeration, but for those with relatively weak sea leg likes myself and Anna this was pretty hairy.
“Just keep looking at the horizon and you’ll be fine” were the fine pearls of wisdom from Nick as Anna and I gradually turned the colour of a fresh avocado. It turned out, contrary to popular folklore, that singing sea shanties in a bid to avoid being sick, actually has the opposite effect!
We were exhilarated, bouncy and boisterous at the prospect of catching our own supper. There is something incredibly satisfying yet humbling about popping a line down, deep into the calm ecosystem below the surface in the expectation that something might just take. And when a fish is foolish enough to rook onto your line there is suddenly an extraordinary connection between man and fish, all through a piece of tough nylon.
Nick proved to a complete mackerel magnet and caught almost an entire school of fish in about 10 minutes, as well as cheeky gurnard for good measure. For the rest of us, we had moments of brilliance interspersed with fathoms of frustration. But needless to say we came home with more than enough mackerel to feed some very peckish campers. In fact we caught so many mackerel that the boys started to play with their supper...
We went back to our camp site at Higher Rew via Hope Cove where we marvelled at their amusing street signs before gutting our fish and feeding the innards to some scavenging and very appreciative gulls. It's crucial, apparently, to gut your mackerel within 30 minutes of catching them. And to make sure you rinse them in sea water.
Nick took charge of the mackerel cooking by simply grilling them over some hot coals. Whilst not undermining Nick's prodigious mackerel cooking skills, it seems all you have to do is turn them after a couple of minutes, squeeze a lemon over them and then get lauded as the greatest fish chef ever to grace a BBQ!