Fishing at Antwerp anchorage

Fishing in Anvers

All the seafarers tend to get a little excited and even happy when they hear about the prospects of a few day anchorage, especially when it is going to take place in a temperate or warm climate. This doesn’t mean that the work stops on the vessel, but on the contrary. Sometimes a few day anchorage is the only solution for the crew to perform some maintenance jobs on deck, in ship’s cargo holds (if these are empty) or in the engine room, jobs which cannot be done or which are more difficult to deal with when the engine is running.

The routine of an average day of anchorage is almost similar with any other passage day – for both deck and engine departments – as everybody still has to wake up early in the morning and work until 5 in the afternoon (with the usual breaks for coffee or meals). Certain jobs must be done every day – no matter if the vessel is running or not – other jobs are more likely to be performed only when the vessel is safely resting in the anchorage, putting the crew on a very tight schedule to finish them in due time.

For me, a few day anchorage – even a few hour anchorage – means the happy prospect of going fishing. No matter where the vessel drops the anchor and for how long, I always take my chances – together with my fishing gear – and position myself in the aft station, ready to throw the line as soon as the perfect conditions are met – weak or no current, high or low tide, calm or moderate sea.

Fishing in the North Sea is very exciting as the most common fish present in the area is the mackerel and it is a very agile predator fish which moves quickly through the water and fights back when it gets stuck in the hook.

Mackerel fish prefers moving around in big schools which makes fishing even more interesting and challenging. The big schools moves continuously according to the tide and currents and, for this reason, the fishing line must be adjusted accordingly in order to reach the desired depth. When the first fish gets stuck into the hook it is most probably that others will follow very shortly, occupying each and every one of the available hooks (which can be 5-10 in number). I prefer my line with no more than 5 hooks because this is the limited weight my hands can lift up from the water surface up the upper deck.

A very interesting fishing experience of this kind I had last year in the beautiful Saronikós Gulf, outside Pireus, Greece. My total catch was of about 25 pieces of mackerel and I was very grateful for it (read the story here).

This week, HS Bach spent 4 days at anchorage, outside the port of Antwerp and I had the opportunity of fishing for a few hours everyday in the aft station.

Sometimes, I went there alone, immediately after lunch when the tide was high and huge schools of mackerels were moving around, 10-15 meters bellow our vessel’s hull. As soon as I threw the line into the water, the fish kept coming – in 3 – 4 or 5 pieces at once – my capture grew bigger by the minute and my hands less and less reliable. After ‘fighting’ with the fish for one hour – one hour and a half – I had to ‘surrender’ to the fatigue, pleased with the content of the box and eager to start everything again after a few hour rest. During these lunch hours, my best capture was ~ 5 kilos.

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After dinner, things changed a little in the aft station as a few more crew members joined me and the fishing became more serious. With 6-7 fishermen determined to pick up all the fish from the sea, the adrenaline reached the highest limits and the boxes were filled faster and faster.

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I was not as strong as them and I could barely lift up 5 mackerels at a time, but I was always happy to see the others while they were proudly bringing the line with 8 pieces up on deck.

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Despite of the thick gloves I had to wear, my fingers were sore and full of blisters, but nothing could stop me from enjoying this wonderful ‘game’. During evening fishing, my capture was bigger and my highest record – for only 3 hour fishing – reached 10 kilos. From time to time, the fishing was taking a short break and everybody had a few minutes to catch their breaths, while moving around on deck and admiring the others’ boxes and the size of the fish.

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During these four days at anchorage, I caught more than 30 kilos of mackerel fish all by myself and the vessel’s fish room received at least 200 kilos – collected by all the crew who was engaged in the fishing party.

IF– one day catch –

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The first and the last evenings ended up in a very cheerful, delightful and ‘tasty’ atmosphere, as all the crew gathered in the aft station for an outside dinner grill with fresh fish. Nothing compares with the taste of fresh fish on the grill and I love the relaxed and simple way of eating the fish directly from the grill, sometimes while still standing, with little or no use of eating utensils, sharing one big bowl of rice and another one of salad.

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… and because everybody likes fish, we ate a lot of fish during these four days (some of us only fish) and we really loved it as it came in different arrangements, forms and preparations.

IF– Dried fish with coconut sauce –

IF– Dried fish –

IF– Fried fish –

IF– Grilled mackerel with lemon sauce –

IF– Grilled mackerel –

IF – Mackerel with sour cream sauce –

IF– Raw fish salad – kilaween –

I am sure there are many more recipes waiting to be tested and I am looking forward to another fishing opportunity in the same area or anywhere else in the world.

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