The Chronicles of Kiwi, Part 12

Herding Sea Beasts

Well I’m happy to report that there was no seasickness amongst our crew during our quest for red snapper. Our chipper skipper, Ron Cousins (also  our landlord), shuttled us out to sea on the good ship, Proteus. The Proteus was originally built as a research vessel for the University of Auckland. Before that, the namesake Proteus, was described by Homer (Odyssey iv:412) as a sort of minor league sea-god who hung out near the Isle of Pharos – a bit of a loner and perhaps a curmudgeon. He was certainly no Neptune or Poseidon. Homer described him as the “old man of the sea” and a herdsman of sea-beasts.

Well our ship the Proteus lived up to both. As a decommissioned research ship we set out in an “old man of the sea” vessel and we herded “sea beasts” of the red snapper variety.

Now listen close to this next part because I am going to tell you everything you will need to know about how to successfully secure some tasty red snapper. What you want to do is go to your search engine and type in: “Restaurants near me that serve red snapper.” (Keep reading…)

Finding and catching red snapper turned out to be remarkably easy when you have Captain Ron at the helm. Some Captains follow the trail of certain sea birds to see where they’re gathering. Not Ron. He likes to follow certain commercial fishing vessels, full of tourists, who will pay big bucks if they catch fish. If the commercial lads are not successful, they don’t get paid. Therefore, those craft carry all of the expensive fish finder gadgets and such. Ron has a fish finder but he told me he prefers to just draft off of those boys who are so desperate to catch fish. Brilliant.

We fished for about ten minutes at our first stop, didn’t get a nibble, then scooted out another 400 meters or so. I appreciated the impatience! We dropped our lines at the next spot and boom – we couldn’t keep them off the hooks. The technique was such: a heavy weight tied at the very end of the line, two fish hooks up from that spaced about a meter apart, cut some squid, bait it, let it drop about 100 meters until the line stops, reel it up about a meter, feel the tug and pull up a red snapper – one after another. About 1 in 5 were legal size which by our reckoning would be about 13 inches. It was enormous fun. And even though not a big fan of fish, I was looking forward to eating this freshly caught batch.

So, we got back to our little harbor with a freezer full of fish and Ron asked us what we wanted to do with them. That seemed a silly question. Eat them of course. He asked if we knew how to clean them. Ah, for Coloradoans used to the ease of cleaning a trout, this sounded like a trick question. It was not.  He told us the we needed to scale them. He asked if we had a scaling tool. I said that I had meant to pack one, but had forgotten to do so. (Ha,ha, ha…good one). He said if we smoked them, we wouldn’t need to scale them, and did we have a smoker. I said I would check with Jan to see if she brought hers. (Ha, ha…sorta).  He asked about a fillet knife and by then my packing jokes were growing old.

Captain Ron lent us a scaler, which turned out to be one you could only use with your left hand.  As I tried to hold the slippery beast by the tail with my right hand, while furiously descaling with my left, the thought entered my head that it looked as though I were playing left-handed riffs on a red snapper guitar. That image made me snort, which caused the fish to move and allowed the recently deceased snapper a painful revenge jab to my left thumb with one of his fearsome spikes. It would not be the last such wound. By the time I had cleaned four of them, each one had made purchase. I looked like I had visited an acupuncturist who specialized in hands.

So, back to paragraph 3. Read it once more. And, you’re welcome!

Be well blessed today! – CJ