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It Was Th... .is Big !! A True Whopper !

Posted by Past Member

      For the Vegans and saviors of the Planet 🙂 out there   , I love ya but I have a utilitarian view about  fishing and using animals for meat . We have evolved into Omnivores , we will eat almost anything we  can get  into our belly  !! ...from HoneyBaked Ants to  Ostriches and everything in between ....for a reason . I actually think that catch and release is worse , it tortures the poor fish fo no good reason except Fun for the fishetman . If I put a fish through that it will be because I want Fish for dinner !!  Some say ....as they do ...that fish don't feel pain , that's a pretty silly proposition . That was said about babies being circumcisedc without pain meds . 

Ever since I left here a long time ago there was a memory I always cherished  . In the Summer when we were free to roam the countryside , the river Moy , Lough Conn and the huge flat beach a few miles away .  One of my fondest memories is fishing in a warm rain . In Ireland they call it  " a Soft Day " . Thick , dark , puffy clouds hovering overhead , never seeming to move , threatening rain , as usual !  My Mom would say it felt very " Heavy" , just Humidity which is  98%  usually , winter and summer . 

    Going down the Estuary you could catch Salmon , Sea Trout and Flatfish / Fluke . The seaweed grows in the river even 7 miles upstream and some saltwater fish come up the river to visit . River Otters and some really cute looking Spotted Harbor Seals , little round fat ones . The River Otters  follow the fish upstream and dig burrows along the riverbank to raise their young . I've seen Mink and Ferrets swimming in the river and catching fish . They hide very well so  we so patience is required or maybe just luck !   There is a spot where there is a large flat area of Limestone   with water  channels which  tend to slow the fish down  . The Salmon do not eat once they enter the Estuary  and the only bait that they cannot  resist is Shrimp . Using Shrimp is illegal in the river  for this reason ....gotta give the poor Salmon a chance ! !  At the mouth of the Estuary we used to pick Cockles and Mussels ( Alive , alive Ooooo) Razor Clams and the odd crab . I still ho to pick Mussels and Cockles in the Estuary as well as edible seaweed called Sea Lettuce and Dillisk . I use the seaweed in soups and with noodles for the salty ocean taste. 

     The flat Limestone shelf  rises just as the River exits the town and about a half hour walk from my house . At this spot we could walk out into the middle of the river , about 200 feet wide . Right in the middle was the best spot . We could see the fish swimming up the channels but as I mentioned , the Salmon don 't really feed at this point . You catch them by pissing them off or making them curious   . You just have to hope  Salmon sees your Lure as a threat and attacks or just an interesting thing to bite .  I often caught very big Fluke at this shelf in the past  and a few Salmon .  

   I was there with my older Brother on a warm , misty , soft day  with just a little rain , as always . The water in the pools and shallow  rivulets was smooth and we could see the tails flicking the water  as they crossed the shallows .  Just because you can see them right in front of you  it doesn't guarantee a catch,  in fact most of the time they slipped away . 

   The catch that day was a whole different experience for us . As I hunkered down on a rock in the middle of the river the plop plop of the raindrops  surrounded me . The concentric circles  that blossomed in the areas of still water  with the impact of each raindrop were mesmerizing , very Zen  lol . 

     As I daydreamed and smiled  about New York and how the next few years would go  and worried  about the summer exams I just completed  there was a shout and then a scream  from my Brother . I blinked my eyes and there was this big white belly of something big  on the line as it tried to leap out of the water .  It flopped back into the water and found a deep flow of water to turn around and make a quick exit .  It was on my line but we were both shouting .." what the hell was that ? "  as we scanned the water assuming that it got away .  As we stood there we speculated about what it was we had just caught I heard a splash and spun around . I had left down my fishing rod and noticed that it was sliding over the rock towards the water as another splash threw water in the air . My Brother jumped for the line and I jumped for the fishing rod . As I lifted the rod and he pulled the line the fish flopped up and back down , disappearing in an instant . 

   It was big , heavy and very flat so we figured we had a Fluke or a big Plaice  a nice big one !! We did as we had learned from past experience and took our time , slowly reeling and allowing the fish to stay calm and not break the line . . As it slowly got closer we slowed down even  more , holding our breath wondering what it was flopping at the end of my line . 

    Finally the fish flopped halfway onto a rock and we could finally see it in all it's glory .  It was a large Halibut  and as we pulled he got very angry at his predicament and would not give up .  We got the monster into shallow water and dragged him over to the grassy bank . I can smell the rain and see those raindrops when I think of that fish !! 

   So we are are about a half hour from home  with this monster wondering about the best way to tackle our prize catch . As we draged him up the bank he was flopping all over the place still hoping for an escape plan . Nobody had cars and it they did have one a big smelly fish in their trunk would not be in  the cards . We walked all the way .

    This was the biggest fish I had ever seen !!  I won't give dimensions except that it took both of us to pick him up !!  The fish had a thick belly , much thicker than a Fluke or a Plaice  and different type of wings . We were informed by my other Brother that it was indeed a Halibut that had wandered off course .

   To get home we had to walk through the middle of town and we were so excited that we , two little Dudes who hadn't " served their time "  standing out in the rain and cold  had bagged this monster ...and in the river , almost in the middle of the town !! ( by Irish measurement !! Lol ) . We found a couple of pieces of rope and tied up the Beast  for the walk home . 

    The amazing thing is the poor fish was flopping  around the whole way home . It was hilarious walking by the fishermen as they cast their lines over the bridges . All these glaring eyes followed us all the way , lots of high fives and big grins along the way  as we struggled to hold onto the Halibut . 

    The really funny bit was when we finally opened the front door and walked in . 

   " Oh my God and his holy blessed Mother !!! "  my Mom freaked out . 

   " My God , where did you get THAT   and  What is It  ?? " my Mom blurted out .  My Mom absolutely Hated fish  but she was such a great Mom she forced herself  to endure the fishy smell she hated , just for us !!  The fish was still very much alive as we walked in the door  and brought it to the only place it would fit into ,  the bathtub !! So off we go and deposit our flopping catch into the bathtub . 

   " What now ?? "  I said .  " We have to kill it " my Brother said . 

    " You caught it so you have to kill it " he said . 

    " We both caught it and I did the hard bit , he was on my rod so  You have to kill him !!" 

   As we had this little chat the tub was filling up.and the fish was looking a bit happier ...for now  !! 😈  As it was swimming around  appearing not to be bothered by the fresh water ( which never ocurred to us !! ) .  My Mom heard us debating and looked into the bathroom and declared .

   " I hope you felllas don't think that I'm going to kill that thing !!!  ...you caught it  ,  you clean it and I'll cook it " . It was such a beautiful creature that nobody wanted to kill it !! 

Fair enough we both said  and stood there staring at the monster fish swimming in the bathtub . I didn't have the heart to kill the poor thing  , same with my Brother .  We just sat there a while watching how it moved it's big wings , which were curved up a bit on the cramped space  inside of the tub . Eventually we went off to bed and of course in the morning the fish was on his last legs . He died from " Misadventure" ..wrong time , wrong place  ☘

    Finally we got to clean it and got it ready for my Mom . We cut off the inedible bits and called Mom to have a look . She got this huge grin at the size of the thing . We always had white fish on Friday and Sunday , done in a creamy onion sauce ...Yummm  ,  boil the onions until they're soft and almost squishy , milk , flour and pour over baked fish   , sooo good .  My Mom was grinning about the fact that we had enough really nice fresh white fish for a good few dinners ...fish my Mom didn't have to buy !!  My Dad would have been away working and my Mom had to stretch the pennies like a rubberband  !! 

    Hugs and Jelly and Ice Cream all round for the herouc fishermen .  I still remembet the expressions on the faces of the " Real" fishermen as we walked up by the river on the way home ....Priceless  !! 

Eamon  ☘☘

    

 

Comments:
Mar 21, 2022
delgrl525 : Hi Eamon, I loved your description and telling of this childhood memory. It sounds absolutely idyllic and your ability to evoke the feeling of the time and place is powerful. But, OMG, that poor halibut! My dad, who was a lifelong sport fisherman, always had a wooden club in his boat, and would club the fish over the head as so on as he got it in the boat, to put it out of its misery. I always thought it seemed cruel, but after reading your story, I'm seeing the wisdom in it!!

Your story reminds me of my childhood summers on the small island off the coast of B.C. where we had our summer cottage. We were free to roam as we pleased without supervision. The roads were dirt and there was no traffic. The white sand beaches surrounded us with its gentle slope, and we spent the days exploring, beachcombing, looking for exotic shells, swimming and sunbathing. There was really no danger or trouble you could get into, so our parents left us kids to our own devices. We had beachfires and sing-a-longs in the evenings, and roasted weenies and marshmallows. We took our shoes off the minute we hit the island, the day after school let out for the summer, and didn't put them back on again until Labour Day weekend when we had to return to the city. The soles of our feet were like hard leather and our feet had spread. It felt awful having to put shoes back on again! My dad fished for salmon, and sometimes cod, and we got clams and oysters off the beach. My mum picked wild blueberries and huckleberries and made amazing pies. I didn't realize how lucky I was at the time, but those memories are just precious to me now.

Cheers,
Terry
Mar 22, 2022
delgrl525 : That sounds like a beautiful place to grow up in! I can relate to the 'getting stuck' when the tide comes in story. We would sometimes walk about a mile down the beach, where there were no cottages and you could safely 'skinny dip'. If it was low tide, we would spread our towels out on one of the sandbars and promptly fall asleep baking in the sun, only to be rudely wakened by the water licking at our feet, then discover that we were on an isolated sand island surrounded by water. Very shallow though, so it only meant getting wet again to get to shore. As far as cooking your veg in sea water, sure, why not! People salt there veg water before cooking anyway. Brilliant!

How lucky you were to get mussels! We have lots of mussels in this part of the world, but they are very small, not the eating size. We do get prawns and crab, but you need traps for that.

Terry
Mar 23, 2022
delgrl525 : Hey Eamon, Just wanted to say, if you thought I was too critical of your treatment of that poor halibut, please know I wasn't trying to hold myself up as an example of virtue. You were dumb kids after all. When I was about three or four, our cat had kittens. When I asked my mum why it was that our dog liked to swim in the lake, but the cat didn't, she told me that cats didn't like the water. Well, I guess I didn't believe her, or wanted to test this out for myself, but I had all the little kittens in a wicker basket and I took them and threw them in the lake. What a little sadist in the making!! I don't know what I was thinking! They were all swimming around frantically, meowing like crazy. My mum was not too pleased with me to say the least. I don't remember what my punishment was, but I never tried that trick again.

Terry