i woke up this morning at 4am to drive down to gloucester to go deep sea fishing with rob, ed, tom, and rob's friend mike. the sun was barely out, which made for a moody sunrise behind the clouds. there weren't that much traffic this early on a sunday morning so i had a leisurely drive down to gloucester, a town i've never driven to before, with my own personal mix of music playing through a cassette-fed mp3 player adapter.

when i got to yankee fleet, everyone had already arrived. we paid for our tickets ($46 each) and then had coffee and breakfast at the marina restaurant. i had the captain's special, which included two eggs, toasts, homefries, and slices of bacon. mmm mmm hearty!

we boarded the boat that'd take us 20 miles out in the middle of the ocean, and at 6am we promptly left the pier. the trip out to the fishing site was a delight, with the morning sun slowly coming out, the smooth sensual waves, and rob and mike relating either fishing stories or stories about their checkered weymouth's past. other highlights included seeing a pod of saddle-backed dolphins and i think i also saw the submerging dorsal fin of a whale.

when the boat finally came to a stop, it was time to fish. it was very crowded as people gathered around the perimeter of the ship to drop their line. i might've fished a long time ago, so long as a matter of fact that i completely forgot how to do it. so essentially this was my first time fishing - again. i learned to keep my thumb on the spool otherwise the line might tangle, and i learned to lock the reel so i can draw the line back up. putting the bait onto the hook was definitely disgusting. it wasn't live bait - just cut up pieces of fish guts - but to actually have to finger the smelly stuff out of the bucket and hook it, and then later have your hands coated with this stinky goo, it wasn't for the squeamish. any jokes i might've made about eating or drinking the bait, i take them all back. just thinking about it makes my stomach churn.

how did i make out? funny you should ask, because actually i didn't make out so well. in 30 minutes i caught two fish. one was a cod, which was too small so had to be let go. the other was a cusk, related to the cod family but longer (more eel like). i reeled it up and when it came out of the water i was just looking at it because it was nothing i've ever seen before. in those precious few seconds the cusk was able to wriggle off the hook and fall back into the water. so that was the first 30 minutes. not too bad, right? at least i caught stuff, even though i wasn't able to keep any. but then it happened.

it being getting seasick. now i've been on boats before and i've never been seasick. however, i do get motion sick when i read in a car, so it shouldn't come as a great surprise to me that i would be susceptible to the effects of seasickness. i was fine when we were moving, but just when the boat got still and we were rocking on the water, that's when i started getting a headache. now before you ask, no, i didn't puke. but i definitely didn't feel well, and i think if i didn't sit down and rest, i probably would've tossed up this morning's breakfast meal. so it was a combination of the rocking of the boat and i think of the smell. once the fishing started and people began to bring up fishes, the ship started to stink. it was bad enough with the bait, but once you add the fishes, the boat smelled like a fish market. i *hate* the smell of the fish market. the wee smell of cigarette smoke did help matters out very much either. so i put down my fishing rod, sat down, put on my sunglasses, and tried to fall asleep, baking in the sun.

the other guys had a good time though. they must really love fishing. for me, the most interesting part of fishing is seeing the different fish. i think the act of fishing itself is tedious (i was suggesting the idea of depth charging the whole area and wait for all the dead fish to bob to the surface) and also i am not a big fan of fish meat. i can eat it, but given the choice, i'd go with the old standby of more terrestrial meats like cow, pig, or chicken.



atlantic cod

any fish they caught, they'd put into a burlap bag. it's kind of creepy see the bag moving occasionally, full of semi-conscious fish, some to be fish fillets. afterwards, when the fishing was over, everyone would carry their sacks of fish to the back of the boat, where some of the crew would fillet the fish for them. i watched a little bit of the butchery. once again, not for the squeamish. the guys would slice the fish into halves, throwing overboard the head, organs, and spine. a massive flock of seagulls followed behind the ship. i was fascinated by how bloodless a sliced open fish can be, and how most of the fish's body is muscles, with all its vital organs located upfront by the head.

when we started to head back, they washed the deck, hosing down everything. i watched as little bits and pieces of fish guts rolled past me on the discharge. what i never realized is how absolutely dirty fishing can be. when you pull up a fish, a lot of times they'd poop when you got them on the deck, this grey smelly sludge. i don't know why they do this, but i think if i got hooked in the mouth, i might want to poop myself silly as well. so there's stuff coming out one end, and occasionally there's stuff coming out the other end, like a fish puking out its last meal. to top it off, at one point rob told us to come over and check out the fish he just caught, and on the head of the fish we could see this parasitic worm* crawling underneath the skin.

fishing though seems like one of the last few remaining bastions of things guys do. you don't see a lot of women fishing. true, on our boat we had a few, but for the most part, it was mostly an all male crew. i wonder if one of the reasons is because it can get so disgusting? fishing is essentially hunting, you're killing something for food. to a certain extent there's something very primal about it, and it harkens to the prehistoric days when men would go out to hunt, while the women were in charge of the domestic matters. so i wonder if that's why fishing remains such a guy thing?

today's trip was definitely educational. the guys were nice enough to give me a share of the fish meat even though i didn't catch anything. today's trip was also traumatic. it's going to be a while before i can stand the smell of fish again. i don't hate fish. i love fish. love them so much that i want to stay as far away from them as possible. leave the fishing to the professionals!

*rob tells me that it wasn't a parasitic worm but rather a sand flea. after some online research i found out that sand fleas are actually crustaceans, not insects. is it a parasite though? who knows. it was still nasty!