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My Deadliest Catch
It was six o’clock in the morning. The view was as beautiful as a still picture. I felt like I was on top of the world. I was about to do the one thing I always wished I could do. We were in Surfer’s Paradise sea port. My father had booked us a place on a fishing boat so that we could experience fishing in the deep Pacific Ocean. I knew deep inside that this was not going to be a regular fishing trip because this was Australia. Australia has one of the widest varieties of fish in the world, ranging all the way from the notorious great white shark to the little sea bream. I also knew that this fishing trip could be dangerous. We were warned that we may have an encounter with sharks. We might even hook one!
“Well, here we are,” said my father, “This is the boat.”
“It looks like it can handle pretty heavy seas,” I replied. I noticed that the boat was a Stebber 280 Express, equipped with a three hundred horsepower Yanmar motor. It was about thirty feet in length, and it had a beam of about three meters. It was all white with a streak of grey at the bottom just as a shark would look if its colors had been inverted.
“This boat is a Stebber”, said my father, “These boats are mostly used by the Australian government for their coast guards.”
We were about to board when we heard the captain speak. “Good morning mates. Are you ready for today’s fishing trip?” He had an Australian accent that I had never heard before.
“Yes”, I replied, “I’ve been looking forward to it.”
“Well I’m glad to hear that.” said the captain, “Oh; I guess I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Bob Clayton, and I will be your skipper for today.”
Captain Clayton switched on the ignition and the Yanmar roared to life. I thought about the impact of boats on global warming. Is global warming going to cause a rise in the ocean temperature thus causing the fish to die out, and bleach the coral reef? Am I contributing to global warming? I tried to get this sad thought out of my head as I watched the great view of Surfer’s Paradise fade away in the distance as we went deeper into the sea. The sea was a clear dark blue and very rough. The boat was rocking from side to side like a cradle. As we got farther away from shore, Clayton pushed down on the throttle and the boat surged forward.
In a matter of minutes, I lost sight of the shore. I was petrified. I was only eight years old at that time. I thought that we were never going to touch land again. At last, Clayton pulled back the throttle and the boat slowed down. It was a great feeling that we finally stopped. It meant we were not going deeper and I was glad we were not.
My father finally spoke to me, “We are not going to fish here; we are merely going to throw nets in the water and come back later to fetch them. If we are lucky we will find crabs trapped in them.” I could see that my father was overwhelmed as well because the sea was an angry man who was waving his arms back and forth causing high waves.
That worried me. I watched Clayton and my father throw the square, two dimensional nets into the water.
It took about five minutes to drop the nets. Clayton said, “Well we’ll come back for the nets on our way back.”
“How”, I asked? Clayton gestured to the left with his filet knife and I saw a spherical fender floating on the water. Then, I understood. We were going to return to that point and pull the nets back on board. “We are going to go fishing now”, said my father, “Ready?”
“Yes, I am.” I lied. I was scared as a kitten. All around me was three hundred and sixty degrees of sea. The sea was a perfect circle and the boat we were on seemed to be its center.
Clayton turned the ignition switch on, but the engine did not roar to life this time. Now, the engine rumbled, smoked and then died. Great we were most definitely adding to global warming on this trip of ours. “Oh, no”, whined the captain, “The engine is malfunctioning.”
“Well why don’t you try again?” said my father. Clayton went to the cockpit and turned the switch again, this time the engine roared to life. We all cheered. Then, I watched the RPM needle raise from one thousand to three thousand in less than a few seconds. The engine beeped and died once again. My father also saw what had happened. “Look”, he said, “The rope from the fender is tangled in the propeller. Clayton, take us to starboard (commonly known as the right side of the boat when moving forward) so you can jump in the water and not be against the current.”
“Good idea.” replied Clayton. Clayton turned the steering wheel to starboard and the boat moved slowly to the right side with the huge rolling waves. “I will go in the water now,” said Clayton, and with that he disappeared into the cabin. A few minutes later, he climbed back onto the deck wearing a dry suit and a snorkel. “Wish me luck”, he murmured. After that, Clayton took a great leap and plunged down into the Pacific Ocean. He swam like a skillful fish toward the motor, and started to free the ropes from the propeller with his Rambo knife. I was most certainly glad I was not in his shoes.
The ropes were freed and when Clayton attempted to turn on the motor for the fourth time that day, all went well. Clayton pushed the throttle forward until it would no longer go down anymore. The boat torpedoed forward for about a miserable half hour. When Clayton put the Yanmar into neutral, he announced that we would begin fishing. Clayton equipped me with an Ugly Stick rod, and it was equipped with a 4/0 Penn Senator Reel. I noticed that he was using a torpedo as a sinking weight. Torpedoes are used for heavy sea conditions such as strong winds or currents. “Well, let us begin fishing”, said my father.
“Okay”, I replied compliantly. The baits that Clayton put on my bait holding hooks were chunks of smelly sardine and shrimp. I did not know what to say next, so I pulled the lever backwards and the torpedo along with hook plunged down into the dark blue ocean.
“How long does it usually take before you get a strike?” I asked.
“It should take a couple of minutes.” Clayton answered. What, a couple of minutes? It usually takes a matter of seconds if one was in the right spot. My question was answered. Global warming is decreasing the fish population almost everywhere in the world. Back home in Lebanon, the fish population of Bluefin tuna has almost vanished. Sad but true. Clayton was right. It took seven minutes for me to get my first hit. At first, it felt like a nudge. Then, when I was sure I had a fish nibbling on the bait I flicked my rod upward and the fight began! The fish was pulling very hard, and as a result my rod was bending forward almost touching the surface of the water. After a very long struggle, which lasted about ten minutes, the fish began to surface and the shimmer in the clean water. I wanted my father to bring me a net. I looked over my shoulder and saw him and Clayton landing (a fishing term used when taking a fish out of water and placing it on a surface) a fifteen pound Cobia.
“This little guy put up a bit of a fight” said Clayton. Wow, was that also what I had on my line. That question was answered very soon.
The fish that I saw now was just beautiful. It wasn’t a Cobia. Cobias are black and white. The fish I had was green, blue, peach, purple, and orange. “Did this fish come from the Great Barrier Reef?” I asked.
“No”, said my father, “This fish also lives here near the Gold Coast.” I looked at it struggling in the water, and I noticed it had teeth like a vampire’s.
“Ah, mate”, said Clayton, “You got yourself a pretty good fish. This is called a Venus Tusk fish. The one you have here is bigger than any I have seen in my life. This one should be about seventeen pounds. We are going to need a gaff to get this one out of the water.” Clayton went into the cabin, and returned with the gaff. He lowered it into the water, and moved it quickly under the fish’s stomach. Then, he pulled the gaff up with mighty force as it plunged into the fish’s meat. The scene was horrible. There was blood all over the colourful scales. Clayton dumped the fish into the fish box along with the Cobia.
“I have never seen a more beautiful fish in my life”, said my father.
“Neither have I”, I replied. When a couple minutes passed, I dropped my line into the ocean once more. A couple of minutes went by, and then lots more.
I was about to give up and take my line out of the water, when there was a sensation I never had before. There was a hard and angry pull. The Penn couldn’t hold any longer. The brake gave away, and the fish took about thirty meters of line. The bell on the reel was on, so I had to turn it off if I didn’t want to have a massive headache from the ceaseless ringing noise.
“Whoa, what is happening there boy?” said Clayton. I couldn’t answer him. “I should get the flying gaff. I lost it, but I know it is somewhere on the boat,” continued Clayton excitedly.
“I’ll help you reel up the fish,” said my father. And with that, Clayton disappeared into the small cabin. I handed the fishing rod to my father. The rod was now bending even more towards the surface of the sea, and all of a sudden, the rod straightened up. Did we have a line break? No. The surface of the sea was broken and a massive sword fish leapt out. Its sharp beak missed the boat by a couple of hundred meters. How shocking that was. No matter how frightened we were to lose the swordfish my father gripped on even tighter to the rod. My dad had just about a second where he could see the fish before it landed in the water again. Clayton didn’t have the flying gaff. He had a spear gun. When the fish surfaced again, Clayton took aim but before he could open fire, the fish leapt up in the air and out of the spear’s death zone. When the fish was tiring and began to swim in a calmer manner about ten meters away from the boat, Clayton took aim, and pulled the trigger. It hit the fish right next to the tail. Surprised, the swordfish took all the line the spear gun supplied. The sword fish was a fast moving torpedo in the water. It took a couple of minutes to pull the fish in. The spear had hit no vital organ; which caused the sword fish to struggle on the deck before our eyes. In the midst of this struggle, Clayton tried to move it near the fish box and unfortunately Clayton got a nasty wound.
“Ouch. I’d better get this cleaned and wrapped up before it gets infected. My father decided that the fishing trip was becoming too dangerous and asked Clayton if it was okay with him to go back to the port. All the while I was bewildered. Should we have gone on a fish and release trip instead? We won’t be decreasing global warming but at least we would have been preserving the fish population.
“Good choice”, said Clayton. He turned the engines on and as they fumed we headed towards Surfer’s Paradise. What a way to end the trip, I thought to myself. It was as though we were making sure to sign off the trip with more global warming. What a day! What was sad was that I knew that every year the number of fish would keep decreasing and decreasing as a result of global warming. Once the boat was parked, we thanked Clayton and got off his boat. It was a long walk to the car. When we were almost there, my father and I stopped and looked at each other and said at the same time “THE NETS!!!” Our sense of responsibility led us back to Clayton’s boat only to find a note on the wheel saying, “In case you are back to tell me about the nets…I’ll be picking them up tomorrow, so no worries mates!!!” I felt like laughing but I was too exhausted. I was thinking of the long walk back to the car and how the car will also be contributing to global warming. I want to stop thinking of how I am contributing to global warming. I want to start acting on stopping global warming, but how?