The Price of Fish These Days
12 July 2019 | Fishing Aussie Style
You'll often find me standing at the supermarket fish counter these days, agape and aghast at the price of fish. Twenty six dollars a kilo. Thirty five, even in the forties for a decent bit of white fish these days. And then oddly, the fish that seem to have flown the farthest, from Thailand, Vietnam or even Denmark seem to cost less than "locally sourced". Mind you, when you see the fishing boats chuffing back into harbour at four or five in the morning, having spent the night at sea, rolling like dogs, unloading their catch then filling up with a thousand litres of diesel, you can understand why the catch is expensive. Although my guess is the supermarkets make more margin than the rest of the supply chain put together.
Anyway, having been told by my Harley chum, Johann that what I needed to improve my fish per thousand miles ratio (currently about 0.33) was a Rapala diving lure, we lashed out in the Lure Shop in Cooktown on some fancy, bright coloured triple hooked Rapalas. Thirty bucks each so we were really hoping Johann was on the money.
And so, as we meandered our way up the Great Barrier Reef, getting blown north by the fifteen to twenty from the south east, forecast that never changes, weaving our way around the shoals, islands, reefs, ships, tugs and fishing boats, we thought, "hey, let's see if we can catch a fish". Now, firstly, that's not as easy as it sounds. First, you've got to get the new shiny lure out its box without skewering yourself on one or indeed all of needle sharp points on the hooks. (If you don't catch a fish, you are absolutely guaranteed to catch the ensign, thereafter spending a happy hour or so trying to get the hook out the flag without leaving it entirely in tatters).
Next, how do you tie the damn thing on? "You've got to use wire as your leader" said the sales guy. "Offshore, you'll want 90lb test". So, another ten bucks goes on a coil of this ninety pound wire. Which I think is quite strong. I mean, what size of fish was he expecting us to catch. The wire comes cleverly packaged such that when you take off the lid, it self explodes all over the cockpit floor where, as you try to stop the wire unraveling like an angry snake, you off course embed the hook you just unpacked in your T-shirt and then spend another happy hour extricating that.
And then there's the knot. How exactly do you tie a knot in wire? I still don't know but twenty or thirty half hitches, locked off with another five bucks worth of little metal talurit splice thingies seemed plenty strong to me.
So, there we were, in the fifteen to twenty metres of azure blue reef waters, somewhere between Cooktown and Morris Island, another sand-spit-cum-reef mid ocean, we ran out the line, sat back and waited. And waited. And waited. And gave up. And forgot about it. Fishing as normal, Time Bandit style. Nuthin'.
And then, like Jaws, I heard the clicks of the reel and bingo, a fish on the line. We hauled it in, gave it a bonk on the head and faster than you can say, "fish supper please" he was in the pan. Or half was, the other half in the freezer.
Enthused, we tried again yesterday. Twice. Two lures, apparently chomped clean through the wire by Jaws or one of his buddies. For a bit I thought my knots might have been the problem until our buddies on Cheetah rolled up for sundowners, (it's Hell out here you know) and their fishing exploits resulted in them catching half a fish, Jaws having taken the last half as they were reeling it in. At least they still had their lure. Two of ours are now presumably and maybe deservedly tormenting a couple of big nasty sharks, much like my missing filling is currently tormenting me.
That and the thought that altogether our fish cost about ninety bucks. The price of fish these days.