The afternoon before we left Bali we ran into a fisherman relaxing with his friends at one of the typical beachside restaurants. While we chatted with him about life on the island, another fisherman arrived with an armful of freshly-caught tuna. R asked him to share his catch, the restaurant owner offered to throw it on his grill, and we sat down to a delicious meal.
We were so impressed by the flavour of the fresh fish that we asked if it would be possible to accompany some of the local fishermen out on one of their early morning trips. To our surprise and delight, one of them agreed, and two mornings later (to avoid a treacherous thunderstorm) we were up with the Balinese dawn and headed down towards the beaches and the traditional fishing boats, called “jukung“.
The boats are surprisingly steady because of the pontoons on either side of the main structure, and had no difficulty skimming over the waves as we headed straight out into deeper water.
Our guides kept a watchful eye on the waves, the surface of the water, and the sky. Soon they found what we were looking for: a flock of raucous sea gulls swooping down to grab at the fish that were nibbling at the bugs on the water’s surface. A perfect eco system at work, and we were eager to take our places.
After a little while, there was a tug on one of the lines, and then another. Pandemonium broke out when our guides started shouting at us to “reel them in, reel them in!” R was immediately successful, and I was so distracted by his catch that I lost the fish on my line – or so I thought. I reeled in a fish so tiny that everybody burst out laughing — our guides didn’t even have a name for it!
We took to the shallows with our catch and after some snorkeling and diving we headed into shore. Our new friends gave our catch to one of the beach-side cooks who grilled it up for us with a side of plain white rice. Now, I am not a meat eater, but I love seafood. This meal, freshly grilled fish that we’d caught, served so simply with a squeeze of lemon and lots of flavour from the fire, was the best fish I’d ever had.
Fresh grilled fish with a young coconut filled to the brim with rehydrating coconut water. It doesn’t get much healthier (or more delicious) than that!