HON­EY­MOON WITH A HAL­IBUT!

Seek­ing to end his re­cent Amer­i­can road trip on a high, Dom Gar­nett gets the shock of his life when he fishes a pier in up­town San Fran­cisco

Angling Times (UK) - - NEWS - MORE IN­FOR­MA­TION YOU can read more about Dom’s trav­els, in­clud­ing a fish­ing trip in Man­hat­tan’s Cen­tral Park, in his lat­est book Crooked Lines. See www.dg­fish­ing.co.uk

WHER­EVER you travel, it can be tough as an an­gler on hol­i­day.

Wives and fam­ily mem­bers tend to be less en­thralled than you are at the sight of wa­ter. But even in a big city such as San Fran­cisco, that urge to fish can come through.

On my re­cent hon­ey­moon in the States, you could say I left it a bit late. From grand mu­se­ums to Golden Gate Park, there are more ob­vi­ous at­trac­tions than the city’s murky har­bours. But with just hours re­main­ing till the long flight home it’s now or never, so I fish out a soft lure and cast.

Aim­ing un­der the legs of a clas­sic pier, you could al­most be in Eng­land. But this is no day trip to Brighton – sky­scrapers loom, while out to sea you can spy Al­ca­traz Is­land.

Af­ter a bite­less half-hour I’ll set­tle for even the small­est fish. Just as I won­der if I’m in the right spot there is a sud­den, heavy thump and the en­tire length of my light rock fish­ing rod heaves down­wards.

The next mo­ments are bru­tally thrilling. The fish, what­ever the heck it is, thrashes sev­eral yards be­fore seem­ingly fas­ten­ing it­self

to the bot­tom. Fol­low­ing it down the pier, I man­age to shift it again by chang­ing the an­gle. But the light rod grinds dan­ger­ously and I sus­pect this is a fight I could lose at any sec­ond. Worse still, I can­not find any steps or land­ing point.

Hav­ing fol­lowed the fish some 40 yards up the pier I spot a gang of Chi­nese an­glers, and they have a drop-net! The fish starts to tire, but the drama is far from over.

I ap­ply strain again and see what looks like a world record floun­der throw­ing a tem­per tantrum.

“Hal­ibut!” says some­one. A small au­di­ence is form­ing.

With the drop net low­ered, my new Chi­nese friends de­cide to try and hand-line the thing. “Whoa, be care­ful!” I plead. “Very light trace!” The first at­tempt is bun­gled and by some small mir­a­cle the line doesn’t break. A minute later the fish is on the sur­face again and this time slides into the net.

I’ve never seen a meaner, tooth­ier, dead­lier flat­tie than the Cal­i­for­nia hal­ibut in my hands. Every­one is grin­ning and I’m shak­ing hands with to­tal strangers who have sud­denly be­come fish­ing bud­dies.

“Can we stop and get some lunch now?” asks my wife. I nod, head still spin­ning. More by luck than judg­ment I’m leav­ing the USA with a sou­venir I’ll never for­get.

Be­neath the sky­scrapers of San Fran­cisco is a mag­i­cal world of fishy piers and prom­e­nades. Flat and danger­ous – a Cal­i­for­nia hal­ibut, tamed on LRF tackle and a 6lb trace with a large dose of luck for good mea­sure.

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