The right Line

Tracks - - Fresh Fish -

You know it’s a good day when you have had your fill of waves by 3PM. After a late lunch, Asher and Chippa de­cide to take on the fun­nelling left in a dual sea kayak. It seems like a mis­sion fraught with disas­ter in the shal­low wa­ters, how­ever, much to the amuse­ment of ev­ery­one else, they man­age to steer the cum­ber­some kayak along the faces of sev­eral rolling lefts. The mas­tery of a new craft brings a gen­uine sense of sat­is­fac­tion and after one suc­cess­ful ride they cel­e­brate with both oars raised over­head like gold-medal­win­ning Olympians.

Later, the skip­per, Louis, takes the helm po­si­tion with Chip­per in front. Mirac­u­lously they ma­noeu­vre the kayak into the curl­ing pocket and get cov­ered up si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Louie throws a lay­back and only a pinch­ing lip pre­vents them from ex­it­ing the tube of the trip.

The day al­ready has a spe­cial feel about it when we board the ten­der boat on dark; as­sured by one of our Mal­di­vian guides that we are close to a prime fish­ing spot. Soon we are in po­si­tion with hand-lines and rods hung ex­pec­tantly over the side by all mem­bers of the party. Matt, as per usual, is the most fo­cused; fuss­ing over the right com­bi­na­tion of bait, tackle, line and reel as he claims the best spot, on the back of the boat. When not fish­ing or surf­ing at home,

Matt is hunt­ing for wild boar or deer (he eats ev­ery­thing he catches). On his phone he shows us graphic footage of a deer he and a friend shot. Upon dis­cov­er­ing the deer is preg­nant he and the hunt­ing buddy cut the fawn out of the womb and re­vive it. In a bizarre twist, the fawn is now Matt’s pet.

Asher is also an ex­pe­ri­enced an­gler but most of us are con­tent to let the skilled Mal­di­vian crew set us up with lines. Fish­ing is a way of life for the Mal­di­vians and they seem to know ev­ery com­bi­na­tion of tackle and lure, and when each one is most ap­pro­pri­ate. One of the guides ex­plains how an epic, fish­ing ad­ven­ture on a Mal­di­vian boat re­sulted in an es­corted exit at the hands of chop­pers and a bat­tle­ship when they ven­tured south into the Cha­gos is­lands, which are oc­cu­pied by the US and Bri­tish mil­i­tary.

Chippa hauls in the fish of his life after fight­ing for a solid 10 min­utes on a hand line and looks like he’s just landed the elu­sive 720 ro­ta­tion. It’s a solid Job fish or Uku as Matt calls it – good eat­ing and per­fect for fresh ce­viche in­sists Asher. There’s barely time to cel­e­brate Chippa’s catch be­fore the lines are get­ting smashed on all sides. One by one ev­ery­one lands a de­cent fish. Mean­while, Matt Me­ola is down the back of the boat qui­etly tak­ing his tally to six in

an hour. Asher matches his ef­forts when he pulls in a sparkling red sea bass that’s big enough to feed the boat. Be­fore all the lines are up we need a wheelie-bin-sized bucket to hold all the fish. See­ing an ob­vi­ous metaphor­i­cal link be­tween the ex­cite­ment over our bumper haul and the craft we’ve been rid­ing, Tyler War­ren turns to me in his typ­i­cally an­i­mated fash­ion. “Hey, I know what we should call the story and the movie we’re mak­ing ‘Fresh Fish’. Like all the boards are a fresh take on the fish de­sign.” Star­ing down at a bucket filled with our still-wrig­gling catch, after a marathon day on twin fins, the name seems like the per­fect fit.

Back on the main boat we stretch a white sheet across a wall and project the day’s surf­ing ac­tion onto a makeshift linen screen. The ban­ter flows thick and fast, good-na­tured rib­bing mixed with gen­uine ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the best rides.

At Tyler’s in­sis­tence Matt’s air re­verse to the flats is on re­play mul­ti­ple times. It’s cool to see the guy who em­bod­ies the his­tor­i­cal as­pects of the twin fin de­sign dig­ging the surfer who is tak­ing it to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent space. “Twin fin revo­lu­tion,” states Tyler with a chuckle at his pun and then poaches the cool-look­ing footage from the big-screen sheet and post it straight on his In­sta­gram feed.

Top: Chippa Wil­son com­mit­ting to the heav­i­est pad­dle-in wave of his life.

Left: Fish­ing fa­natic, Matt Me­ola, trawl­ing the lip on two fins.

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