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production notes: the fish

I have been fishing my whole life. My brother and I would fish from the wharf down the street from our house or off the floats at the Yacht Club. Friends and I would fish in Parkers Brook, the Sackville River and in the lakes in Waverly and Fallriver. When the pollock or mackerel were running in the basin we’d see them moving on the surface of the water. We’d cast our lines right in the middle of that activity. You could catch 5 mackerel at once using a string of mackerel feathers and the pollock, who would take just about anything shiny, would take off like rockets and pull and pull.

I loved fishing with handlines off the wharf at the house of my Aunt in St. Margarets Bay. I would lay on my stomach looking down into the water and use tiny hooks with periwinkle for bait. The periwinkle meat was an excellent bait and little fish would dart out from under the wharf as soon as it was in the water.

This is how I caught the perch for the periwinkle blues project. I used a very small hook, a #6 or a #8, small enough to fit inside the circumference of a dime. I had a small handful of periwinkles I collected from rocks along the shore and a baseball-sized rock to crush them with. As soon as the baited hook was in the water fish came from under the wharf and the floating seaweed. They took turns at the hook skillfully eating the periwinkle without hooking themselves. I had to re-bait the hook many times before hooking one perch of seven and a half inches.

The fish stayed in a bucket of water for a few minutes while the diver who operated the camera checked his equipment. The fish was then attached to the boat with 30 or so inches of line. The shoot was twenty minutes and the fish spent some of that time staying quite still, some time pulling the little boat down and around in the water and some time swimming in a circle. When the shoot was over, the hook was removed from the mouth of the fish and it was released beside the wharf where it was caught. The fish swam away vigorously.

I was sure when I decided to undertake this project that I was going to create an unpleasant and stressful experience for a fish. I felt confident that with the right care and technique and a sharp new hook the fish would not die or suffer and I believe I was right.  

 — Chris Boyne