Scary stories from a lovely place
When Stephen and I visited Australia in 2008 before we were married he threw himself headfirst into spearfishing. He put aside any nerves about ocean swimming and powered out over rock shelves and through breaking waves, flippers on and spear in hand. He didn’t catch anything but absolutely fell in love with the sport.
After we were married we had a camping holiday in Cape Vidal, about 8 hours drive from Johannesburg. In the lead up we trawled every fishing store in the greater Gauteng area for a hand spear. My brother had posted one to Stephen but, alas, the great postal strike of 2009 delayed it. In the end we managed to find a barb, the end of a hand spear, buried in a dusty drawer at a fishing shop. The shop attendant told us it had been there for 3 years. Apparently there’s not much call for spearfishing equipment in Jozi. We bought it, attached it to a piece of dowel from a hardware store, strapped a rubber on the other end and spray painted it bluey green, for camouflage.
When the DIY hand spear was put to work, unfortunately it didn’t fly so well, it was slow and clunked to the sandy bottom of the Cape Vidal Bay, missing every delicious target. We found out later, from an angry ranger, that we were spear fishing in a national park and those delicious targets were actually precious, protected specimens. Oops. Later that day Stephen did manage to catch me a lobster with his bare hands, so I was satisfied.
Since living in Australia Stephen has had many attempts at spearfishing. He continues to love the thrill of the chase, floating and waiting patiently in silent waters for a victim, and comes back ashore, shivering with cold, smiling with adrenalin, but empty handed each time. That was until last weekend. Stephen finally caught a fish, of edible size and variety. It was a good sized Red Morwong. Poor little guy.
And this evening I baked that Morwong whole with lime, bay leaves, thyme, garlic and capers. We thoroughly enjoyed it with baked carrot and potatoes and peas. It was delicious. Chewy in that fat-less way that good fish is, flavoursome and nice and pale. It was delicious.
Apparently Port Kembla Beach is quite good for spearing, so hopefully we will enjoy many more of these home-speared meals.