Happy birthday to me

Birthdays are special—or should be. I had vowed and declared my 52nd birthday was going to be exactly that—special. I was going to catch a big fat snapper for that day, so I spent plenty on pilchards, berley, tackle, etcetera. 

My 16-year-old daughter Danielle and I ‘overnighted’ up the Kenepuru, with a mind to being on the spot before daylight. Despite good intentions, Danielle remained sound asleep—as 16-year-olds do— while dad set about his mission. I am a traditionalist when it comes to my snapper, and always use bait, and the Kenepuru is very dear to me. I find it hard to go past the entrance when looking for snapper.  

Shortly after 6.00am, I had a ‘run’ and, as is sometimes the case with big snapper, I wasn’t sure it was a snapper; solid take followed by a forceful sprint for freedom and heavy resistance as I leaned into the rod. All the signs of snapper but big rays and large sharks haunt these waters too. Then colour as it broached the surface. Snapper. Big snapper. BIG snapper! Shit—the net!

With Danielle still soundly sleeping, I realised I hadn’t folded out the landing net. I could not fight this fish and land it unassisted, so began hollering—as you do when you own a 16-year-old—to wake her.  This caused her to leap out of her sleeping bag at such a speed, she became light headed and almost tipped up! 

Still, she overcame that hurdle, regained her composure and deftly netted this fish. It was a proud father-daughter moment and, in that instance, she was forgiven all her 16-yearold sins (yes I have a death wish)!

A behemoth of a fish lay before us and we were eager to see how it would stretch the scales—23lb the pointer said, on two separate scales. A beautiful snapper equalling my PB.

Being my birthday, which is a week before Christmas, and we were having a street party at our house that afternoon, the snapper remained whole and on salt ice for the ultimate bragging rights to be had. What a present.

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