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
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.