I was woken with the start of the engines on the fishing boats, it was time to get up and go fishing! I went with Leon and Sam (otherwise known as Pumpkin Head and Poo-poo, and after that night and a few too many drinks Sam was renamed Pee-pee). It was their last day of fishing on this trip, so today was lifting only 80 pots and repositioning them a little further out to sea away from the rocks where the ropes were not likely to get chafed (but close enough that there should still be some crays when they head back out in a weeks time). It was an enjoyable day out, seeing the day in the life of a Pressie cray fisherman! The day started with steaming out to the pots, some were at the entrance to Chalky Inlet so I got some tips on what rocks to avoid, and most were between Puysegur Point and Long Reef Point (which I'd passed the day before). The pots were lifted, their contents emptied and then the pots dropped in their new position. Most of the pots had quite a number of crays (although not as many as usual, the calm weather meant fewer crays caught), but also sand sharks, congo eels, slime eels and the odd fish – some used as bait and the blue cod kept to eat. The crays were sorted, and the rejects sent back to sea. This was a more tricky job than you might expect – the crays were being caught for the Asian market where they were flown in live with the demand being for Chinese New Year. As well as ensuring the crays were not undersized and had at least all but three legs, they also couldn't be oversized, the shell too soft, the flesh too pink, the tail broken, no puncture wounds on the tail, no front legs or pincers missing, no other deformities and they must also be lively. This meant that more than 75% of the crays were thrown back into the water, much to the disgust of Sam! I helped with sorting the crays, but as some of the requisites were rather subjective, I went through a process of weeding out some of the obvious rejects and Sam went through and checked my keepers and threw out another third to half of them. Its important to minimise the number of rejects that get through – on the last trip Leon and Sam had 16% of their catch rejected by the fisheries, which is a big hit on their quota and bottom line take. On the way back in we cleaned up and I filleted the blue cod (and then got shown how to fillet them the Stewart Island way), and we were moored up by 5pm, a nice early finish.
With three fishing boats (and seven fishermen) plus Honey tied up at the Barge, and all of the fishermen close to the end or having completed their fishing for this trip, it looked set to be a big night. I was welcomed to join in with the festivities (the drinking), and made sure to pace myself as they sure could drink a lot and fast! First it was beers and then this was followed by port, and very little food apart from crayfish until later in the evening when Floyd cooked up some great burgers. Rex took a look at my SSB with no joy (still have found noone who knows how to get it going) and both he and Danny gave me advice on anchoring spots as I head further north up the coast. By this time Sam was well drunk and I headed off to bed before it got too much later.