I have blood on my hands. Me and Estelle, large chunks of the weekend with handlines out. Nothing. Yesterday I thought I'd give it a miss. As we pass a group of rocky outcrops (somewhat incongruously named The Clara Group), the water becomes turbulent.
Skip: "Why don't you throw a line out?"
Estelle wisely sits this one out. Me, I can already taste spanish mack.
Out goes skip's best lure. At seven knots through a choppy sea, there's one helluva drag. I reel in, just to be sure. Nothing. After not very long there's a small but definite tug. Reel in. Again, nothing. Third time lucky. A strike. Got him. He's a biggie. I sink to my haunches and clutch the reel to my belly while yelling for help. Hope I haven't snagged a shark!
Skip comes first and has a hold. "He's a biggie." Passes the reel back to me and darts to the wheelhouse to steer us off course to slow us down. First mate arrives and helps me haul in the line. "Wow, he's big."
A big slab of silver ploughs along the suface.
Skip arrives with the gaff. (Animal lovers are advised to look away now.)
Fishy is big indeed and spewing blood on the deck from a big gaff wound. He's also swallowed the three-hooked lure whole. Poor fishy, sorry fishy. I start apologising.
Skip makes good with the ID: "Mackerel tuna, not very good eating. I'd throw him back, but he's as good as dead."
Fishy streams blood and flicks around for a bit. First mate calls for the knife. Fishy twitches with a throatful of lure.
The Australian Fish Guide advises my catch is a "highly prized lightweight game species... (and) can reach one metre in length and 12 kg... (and) has dark sinewy meat which is best steamed and served with sauces or used as berley or cut bait". Oh. Dammit. It started with such promise.
Skip adds to his review: "It's really strong, oily meat. I guess I'd eat it if I was really hungry."
I spend the rest of the afternoon filleting. We have him for dinner, lightly steamed and drenched in lemon juice with salt and pepper. The baked potatoes are so crunchy-good that no-one complains about fishy. In fact, after such a bad wrap, we agree that he tastes quite okay. Bordering on good, even. I feel marginally better about hooking him. Just marginally.