Maybe it all started when I was a kid and sat up late one night to watch a movie all by myself for the first time. It was the classic fishing tale, “The Old Man and the Sea”, based on the Ernest Hemingway novel and starring Spencer Tracy as the old man. Something about the epic struggle which is the core narrative of that extraordinary story fired my imagination and ever since I’ve had a secret desire to go deep sea fishing. This summer I really got the urge to tick this item off the bucket list. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I wouldn’t have to make an interstate or overseas trip. Right here in the deep waters off Sydney there are game fish in abundance. Moreover there are charter boat companies that will take seasoned anglers and total novices on a deep water fishing expedition. It’s not that I want to manhandle some huge marlin into submission myself but I do think I’d like to see one in its natural habitat. Those spectacular leaps they make are awe inspiring and they look so powerful and menacing. I’d hope though that if someone hooked one they’d tag and release it. I don’t think I’d like to see anything so marvellous killed right in front of me.
I found a charter company on Facebook, of all places. Blue Reef Fishing Charters Sydney had plenty of options on offer for rookies as well as for experienced fishermen and women. There were even a few children in the pictures on their page. Nobody looked sea sick either. Always a good sign. I decided that maybe the rigours of an all-day sport fishing expedition would be a bit challenging for a first attempt but fortunately there are plenty of half day reef fishing trips on offer. Tuition was part of the package and the crew apparently clean your catch for you to take home. That was a load off my mind as I don’t think I could ever gut and fillet a fish myself. I’d be far more likely to fillet my own hand. They also seem to have a philosophy I can live with as they talked about releasing non target species and excess fish. I like the thought of gently releasing a fish or two and enjoying their big brother on the barbecue later.
I have certainly learned some interesting facts about fishing since I started doing this impromptu research. For example in fishing terminology a FAD isn’t a short lived craze. It’s a Fish Aggregating Device. This is a system of ropes and buoys which attracts firstly sea weed, then small marine life such as crabs and eventually draws pelagic fish to feed on the gathered crustaceans. Then fisherman come along and catch the pelagic fish. So a FAD is like an oceanic restaurant where each group of patrons gets eaten by the next in line. I also discovered what “pelagic” means, but that is another story.