When I lived in England, I never understood the popular sport of fishing. It seemed pointless to catch fish and throw it back in. I was also a city girl and my staple diet was fast food, or frozen microwave meals. I hardly ate fish unless it was from the local take away, coated in thick, batter, served with greasy, fat chips, and wrapped in paper. Later I moved to Turkey, and during my first year, was introduced to Aegean cuisine, which is fresh fish, or seafood, served with a crispy salad and traditional Turkish raki.
That year was also my first attempt at fishing but it transpired that Turks have complete different rules and methods!
My First Experience of Fishing in Turkey
I had been sitting at the harbour in Marmaris with local Turks who made the decision to go fishing. I explained my hesitation, calling it a waste of time. They looked at me with confused expressions, and then broke into laughter.
“Why would we throw the fish back? Are we stupid? We will cook it for dinner”
That sounded interesting. After all, why go to the supermarket and buy fish, when you can catch it yourself? I was up for the challenge but because of limited funds, our equipment was just a long piece of twine, hooks, and bread for bait. For local Turks, who had used this fishing method since childhood, getting a bite was no problem but my inexperience resulted in nothing. Thanks to the traditional hospitality, often shown throughout the country, they shared dinner with me but the experience made me curse the sport once more.
The Flying Fish Boat in Altinkum
The years went by and I still loved Aegean cuisine but opted for the easier choice of buying fresh fish, direct from local fishermen at the harbour.
I also enjoyed finding seaside restaurants serving fresh calamari, coated in a crispy, light batter, and covered with Turkish tartar sauce. In addition, the tradition of serving fish with the head still intact, no longer turned my stomach.
Then an advert appeared in the local expat newspaper of Altinkum.“Sunset fishing trips…All equipment supplied. Beginners, and novices welcome.” We signed up with the Flying Fish boat in Altinkum and headed out to sea, an hour before the sun set. As instructed, by the captain and my friends, (who had been fishing before), I set up my rod, attached slimy octopus bait, threw it in the water, and sat down, expecting a long wait. However, within ten minutes, sharp tugging on the line, indicated my first fish was biting! Unfortunately, it looked nothing like I expected and hardly appetising.
Flipping around on the wooden deck of the boat, it was a strange translucent pink colour with sharp spikes on its spine and I refused to touch it. It was thrown back in the sea but the rest of the trip was successful. Our bucket filled up with fish and my confidence in the sport grew.
Sitting on deck, with my feet up, watching the sunset while sipping on cold beer and catching my dinner, made life seem so surreal when I compared it with my city lifestyle of the UK.
So what happened to the bucket of fish we caught?
We had the choice to cook the fish on board but we took it to a nearby restaurant and 45 minutes later, the waiter served it, accompanied with chips and salad. Many restaurants along the coastal resorts will cook fish for a small charge but over the years, I have watched while fast food and processed, frozen meals make their way slowly into Turkish society.
I hope they do not become the mainstream trend. I love hanging around the coastal resorts and their harbours. I enjoy catching my own dinner and eating Aegean cuisine. Quirky, routines like that, prompt me to adore Turkey even more.