Do you kiss your Fish?

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

My tale this time is of a holiday in Majorca 1989. My wife and I took our 2 year old grandson with us to a resort called Acanada which is in the north of the island. We stayed in a French run hotel which was situated on a hillside overlooking the sea. The hotel building was at the top and there were several terraces, some with pools on them, all the way down to the sea. The bottom level is comprised of a jetty with a little drinks bar at the rear, tables with brollys and chairs complete the layout.

On the day we arrived we settled in to our room which had the best view we've ever had, this long vista right down to the sea. After our evening meal we wandered down to the jetty where many of the other guests were gathered. It was one of those balmy Mediterranean evenings and we noticed a group of the guests were standing at the edge of the jetty pointing down into the water. We wandered over to see and to our amazement we saw a huge shoal of grey mullet. They were being fed bread by the guests who said the fish came every evening at about 7 pm. I knew this type of fish frequented the Med in shoals, but I had never seen so many before, I'd bet there were 3 to 4 thousand. As each handful of bread was thrown in, the water boiled, such was the competition for the food. After a few minutes watching, my wife remarked, "What are you waiting for" This was an invitation to fish for them. Well I need no persuading in that department, and I was hotfooting it up to our room to get my rod.

On the way back I called in the dining room to beg some bread. The area was deserted so I nipped into the kitchen and helped myself. Back down at the jetty the fish were still there and I quickly set up and cast in. As the bait hit the water there was this boil and then nothing, I cast in 15 times, nothing. These fish in their frenzy managed to get my bait without me managing to hook them, I would have to change my tactics to catch one.

The plan was then, to bait the hook with a tough crusty bit of bread, cast in, and strike just as the bait touched the water. Hopefully the fish wouldn't have time to spit out the hook. The timing would have to be spot on. Right here goes, careful cast into the middle of the shoal, strike, yes I've hooked one! Line is screaming off the reel as it heads for open sea. This is a seriously good fish, obviously the bigger fish were first to the bait. I tired the fish out and brought it to the jetty wall where I realised I couldn't lift it out and I didn't have my landing net. I decided to drag the fish round the edge of the jetty and land it on a little beach alongside. After kissing the fish my thanks for the good sport, I released it and returned to my spot where I found there was not a fish to be seen, they had moved on to their next port of call.

Next morning at breakfast, the Maitre d' came over to our table to speak to me. I thought I was in trouble for pinching the bread, but no, he had seen me fishing and wondered if I would keep all my catch during my holiday, for him to take home to feed his family. He would provide the bread for bait. What a good deal I thought. I just fished the one hour in the evening every day bar one and gave the Maitre d' his daily fish. One of the days I caught a different fish. I'm not sure just what it was. When I hooked it, it took off heading out to sea. I just couldn't stop it and when all my line had run off my reel, it snapped, so I had to buy another lot in the local town the next day.
The day I didn't fish was Bastile day, a French national holiday. With the hotel being French owned there was a big celebration, fireworks, lots of drinking so the jetty was packed. However, I was stood looking down into the water, the evening shoal of Grey mullet had been and gone. Something caught my eye, it was like a small hole on the sea bed, opening and closing. I watched it for a while when suddenly the sand moved and a large Ray fish materialised. It swam a yard then shimmied down into the sand and disappeared except for this breathing hole again. It was amazing.

We had become friendly with a cockney man and his wife so I called them over to see this unusual sight. The chap managed to see the hole thing after much pointing, which also attracted some of the other guests to look. The water was only knee high so I suggested to my friend that he could nip round the jetty and poke the fish with a stick. Then he would see it as it moved. Well he didn't need much persuading and armed with a stick he waded out following the guidance of the onlookers. A yard from the fish he spotted the opening and closing hole. Leaning forward he tentatively poked the sand, well the fish suddenly reared up at him, he was so surprised that he stumbled and fell backwards into the water. I have never seen anyone move so quickly, he was out of the water as if it had been a shark. Later I heard him telling the tale to someone and that two foot ray fish had grown to four foot in the telling. I thought it was fishermen who exaggerated.

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