On Monday, we had to meet on the dock at 7:15 AM (ugh – 5:15 AM to us) in the morning. We had signed up to take a Mixed Fishing trip, which was a combination of deep sea pole fishing, and also hand fishing on the reef with a spool (similar to what we did at the Maldives). The name of the boat was Bill Fish, and soon we met Bill the driver, who we ended up calling Wild Bill. There was a total of 6 guests on board, and 3 crew members. The first fish hooked was a young black marlin, and it was so exciting seeing him jump out of the water as they reeled him in. Unfortunately for the guy reeling, the line broke just as the fish was coming in to the boat. We all got a good look at the fish, but not a one of us got a picture of it! Despite trying for a few hours, the only other fish caught on the poles was a Long Tom, or barracuda to us. Out of the water he looked to be about 3 or 4 feet long, but if I had been snorkeling, I’m sure he would have looked 6 or 7 feet to me!
I really don’t like swimming with those guys. We had a little excitement mid-morning. One of the other girls on the boat (there were 3 girl and 3 guy guests) looked out once and said 'oh my god, is that a shark?' We all looked out just in time to see a dorsal fin headed right at our boat. Even the crew said 'it sure looks like it,' but just before the fish got to the boat, it was apparent that it wasn’t a shark. It was a couple of dolphins (yes, like Flipper). They came up beside our boat and put on a show, swimming together and then leaping out of the water. Just like the dolphin show at Six Flags! You’ll have to just trust me on this one though, because by the time I had retrieved my camera, they had left. They were so cool to see! We also heard that they had humpback whales come up in that area a lot, and one had even beached himself in the mud flats earlier this year. I watched all day to see one, but it wasn’t meant to be on that day.
After catching the barracuda, we anchored and did a little reef fishing. In reef fishing, they give you a spool with heavy-duty fishing line on it. After baiting the HUGE hook with real fish and cut up squid, they instructed us to let the line run until it stops, which means we had hit the bottom. I never seemed to get the hang of this, since the fish ALWAYS got my bait, and I NEVER caught a fish. It wasn’t until about the end of the fishing that I discovered that you were not supposed to leave your hook and bait on the bottom, but pull it back up a little. I could feel nibbles sometimes, but the fish never took my hook. Everyone else on board caught some of the colorful reef fish, but not me. I decided that I was better at photography anyway. So I went to have a sandwich and gave up on the fishing.
The end of the day was fun, but a little scary. Since the weather in Cairns had been a little stormy, the sea was fairly rough. And when it came time to head in, Wild Bill opened that boat up to what felt like full throttle. Steve and I were sitting up on the top deck (where Wild Bill was), and when we would hit waves at certain angles, it soaked us. I don’t really think he was doing it on purpose, but he certainly wasn’t doing anything to prevent it either. It would have been fine if the weather had been really hot, but by this time it was cloudy and had cooled off, not to mention that I was sunburned to a crisp. Now let me stop right here and tell you that if an Aussie ever tells you to put sunscreen on, do it. Since the weather felt a little cool, and the sun didn’t feel that hot, I didn’t think I was getting burned. At least I did have the good sense to buy a hat the night before. I guess that kept the part in my hair from getting sunburned. My face, ears, neck, shoulders, arms, and even hands got baked. Hey, for a few days, I had a GREAT tan … and then the peeling started. Oh boy, was that ever fun. I don’t think I’ve had a sunburn that bad ever. Oh, and mid-day, I did put on 30 SPF. It was the morning sun that got me so bad too. Who would have thought? Anyway, going back to town, Steve and I ended up sitting VERY close to try and stay warm. It was too rough to climb back down and get inside the boat cabin, and neither of us wanted to sound like a sissy by asking Wild Bill to slow down. Actually, it was fun and a little exciting. All-in-all, it was a great day.
That night, we decided to try a restaurant called FishLips that Jan and Tommy Doerr had recommended (they had gone to Cairns in February). This one had several awards on the walls saying it was voted 'Best Restaurant in Cairns,' and if the food hadn’t convinced us, the service would have. I had a fisherman’s platter with fried prawns, oysters, fish, and lobster! YUM! (Wish I had a plate of that right now!) Steve had their signature fish and chips, and you didn’t hear either one of us complain. Full and tired, we decided to call it a night. However, once we got back to the hotel, Steve mentioned going to check out the casino (The Reef) that was across the street from the Hilton. By this time, I had caught second wind, so we went over. He played Black Jack while I hit the slots. And Steve walked out with more money than he went in with! That Lucky Dog!!!