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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Date night: Gon' Fishin'

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day. Teach a FIREy Lady to fish and she'll inside on dragging you out to the beach on a sunny afternoon to catch a million tiny fish, throw them all back and call it a brilliant date.

I remember going fishing with my granddad as a kid. As a very small kid. I'm sure my memory is pretty skewed by I remember sitting in a little tin boat smaller than your average car with my pop, mum and brother. Four of us, teeny tiny boat. It was dark, the waves were big, and the rod was huge. I remember pop trying to get me to balance the rod on my finger, but I was A. too scared to let go of the boat, and B. convinced the rod would fall in the water.

In short, my first fishing experience was not exactly positive.

For years after that I told all the typical fishing jokes about sitting in a boat and drinking beer, and imagined that 'going fishing' was an excuse to sit on a beach with your mates. Or a boat. It was definitely something men did that pissed off their wives, and the running joke for taking a sick day.

I was wrong. So very wrong. Fishing is awesome. Here's the post about fishing as a great date that I promised to write way back at the end of March.

There are a few things you need to know to go fishing, and it really helps to have someone with you that has done it before and knows their way around a tackle box, how to attach fish hooks and weights, how to pick the right bait. I'm that green at it that I'm sure I've got all the terminology wrong, but I'm still going to take a stab at walking your through your first fishing trip. For me, it's an excellent excuse to go out in the sunshine (or rain), it's both really exciting and really relaxing, and you absolutely never have a hand free to drink a beer.

First, get some gear

Mr. FIRE and I own one fishing rod. Between two of us. We can still have a kickass fishing date, because I use a hand reel. It's literally a coil of fishing wire with a hook and a weight on the end. Give it a swing and toss it in the water.

Of course, you probably want a real rod right? Fair enough, I don't blame you. Swing by your local and ask for a basic, beginners rod. Put your foot down and don't let them sell you anything specialised or fancy, you're new to fishing, you just need an ugly stick with some line on it. 

You can also pick up a tackle box - it should come with some weights, hooks, a few bits of line, maybe even a knife. Again, ask the nice person at the shop for a beginners kit.

If your tackle box doesn't come with a knife, make sure you grab one. You'll need it to cut up your bait, and maybe your fish! In fact, grab two knives, a cheap one for messy work, and a top notch filleting knife for cleaning your catch.

Finally, grab a measuring tape and a big bucket - you need to know how big your fish are, and you need to be able to carry them back!

Second, find somewhere nice

Remember this is a fishing date! Don't go to your mates secret spot under the bridge by the burnt out cars (no seriously, someone suggested a place... that's what we found). Anywhere the river meets the ocean can be nice, or a bay, or a river. Ask google, or your friends, and check it out on google maps before you go there. Try and find somewhere with a low mosquito population.

Third, go at the right time

Fish don't just hang out waiting to be caught. Turns out that if you go around high tide as the water is rising the fish will be coming in to have a feed. This is how Mr. FIRE and I ended up pulling fish in constantly. 

Fourth, shop again

So you've got all your gear, you know where you're going and you're about to walk out the door. Now is the time to get your bait - no point in buying it earlier when you don't know where you're going and what type of bait you need! Mr. FIRE and I use cockles for beach fishing, and you can generally find a bait shop on your way.

Now is also a great time to find a phone app that lists the species of fish where you are going and the size limits. If you can't find an app, you can generally find a website devoted to fishing in your area that you can load up on your phone. Otherwise, popular fishing places tend to have signs detailing the common fish you can catch in that area and your size limits. Snap a picture with your phone on the way past and you're good to go.

Okay, I'm here, now what?

Fish! Squish some bait onto your hook and toss it in the water. If you're fishing for small stuff you'll want to get a little bit of tension on your fishing line. Then you need to zone out for a bit, find a zen space, and feel what is happening on the line. If you're using a rod, slide your finger along the line near the reel, if you have a hand reel, just run the line through your fingers. If you're fishing somewhere quiet, you'll very quickly start to feel the difference between the hook moving in the current, and little fishey's nibbling at your bait. If you're fishing in the ocean or on a windy day it takes a bit longer to get the feel for it.

Mr. FIRE and I mainly fish using cockles as our bait. They're cheap, easy to find, work for most little fishey's and are easy to thread onto the hook. But they fall apart, so you can't just wait for the fish to swallow the hook. When you feel the fishey's having a good nibble (not a gentle nibble, but a good nibble) give the line a quick tug. If you're lucky, you'll have a fishey!

Reel him in, and pull out your phone app to figure out what he is, and if you can keep him. Mr. FIRE and I went beach fishing and caught a fish every few minutes, we only kept one. Everyone else was too small to take home. That's okay though, actually getting dinner is a bonus! Fishing is fun!

A few things to keep in mind - fish aren't super keen on being pulled out of the water with a hook in their mouth. First thing you need to do when you get them out of the water is take that hook out. Check your fish you spines before you grab him, and make sure you have a good grip when taking the hook out. I once caught a puffer fish... It took a couple of minutes to safely get the hook out and flip him back into the water using the flat of our bait knife. I was not touching him with my hands.

If you have picked a good time and a good spot, you won't really have a moment free to drink a beer. And your hands will smell like fish pretty much straight away, so unless you like Eau Du Fish permeating your beer, just skip it.

But seriously, date night?

What makes a great date? Spending time together, enjoying beautiful weather, engaging in a shared activities, celebrating each others successes. Fishing does all these things.

Fishing also forces you to do something we don't often do in our high-speed high-tech world. It makes you slow down, focus, and stop fidgeting. In a world of fidget spinners and endless mobile phone games and apps fishing forces you to disengage from those things. Your hands are busy the whole time. You can also to talk to your partner for added entertainment. Isn't that the definition of a great date? No one is playing with their phones, everyone is relaxing and you are talking to each other.

And if you're lucky you'll also be having a wonderful seafood dinner after.


  1. It's an interesting read. Please do more fun frugal date night idea.

    1. Gladly! Mr. FIRE and I are avid board gamers, and we generally play over a cheese and wine board. There's tricks to keeping the cost down and still having a fancy night :)

  2. I have read your article very attentively really this is very informative


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