From sea to sizzle in about an hour. That's pretty exciting. If you like fish, specifically mackeral, then eating it at it's ridiculously freshest is an opportunity not to be missed. So when Sam suggested the Thought Collective team takes a day out I think it's fair to say I was the most excited.
When the day came around there were one or two doubts; the weather was looking rather unattractive, but no news from the skipper meant all systems were still "go". We headed north.
Sam had been before. You could tell because he was the one with the serious, professional-standard, waterproofs. He was ready for anything; ready for The Perfect Storm; head-to-toe in oilskin. The rest of us settled for more townly, less hurricane-proof, garb.
We needn't have worried though; we were only going out for a few hours and wouldn't be venturing far off the north coast near Portrush. And anyway, the water couldn't have been more calm as we climbed aboard and set out. It didn't change.
Visibility was low and it wasn't long before the shore, close though it was, became barely there. In went the lines…and we waited…and waited…
I can't remember who scored first. Dave or Nat I think. Then one by one, the others got bites. The box started to fill. It was really exciting. Beautiful, iridescent mackeral, accumulated. An occassional gurnard attracted, we figured, to Nat's ginger hair (she was the only one that caught them and they were her colouring), the odd whiting, one mystery-fish. But mostly mackeral. Mostly…But not on my line.
After a while we moved, to try our luck somewhere else. But to be honest, even though I joked about needing to catch something to exercise a ghost from my distant past (when I fished as a teenager I never caught anything), really, it didn't matter. Being out on the water, in such peaceful conditions was fantastic. And we had a few fish so we had something to cook.
We moved again. Closer to the shore. Our lines went in.
Bingo! Our rods began to quiver. Mine was first. Unmistakable - I had a bite. No! I have more than a bite; I had four of the silvery beauties. It was SO exciting. Four tasty wrigglers on my hooks but when I turned around, the others had bites too. Three or four of us at once. There was mackeral everywhere!
De-hooked and in the box our lines went in once more and more came out. And again. And that was enough. With more fish than we could have hoped for our time was up. We headed in. It was a superb experience.
On the way back we took turns at gutting them and filleting some. When we moored, we even sold some to some guy on the key. With what we kept we headed over to Sam's family place, a little way around the coast.
Down on the rock we fired up a barbeque. And with the help of some chilli and garlic olive oil, a salt and black pepper rub and some toasted rye bread, we feasted…like (soon to be) Fish-full Kings.
I can't speak for the others but I loved every minute of the day. What a pleasure and a privilage! So I have to say a special "Big Thank You!" to Sam Irwin for having the idea and for making it happen.