Chapter 3: Red Grouper
With a “dong” sound, the lead weight with the fish hook hit the water surface and quickly sank, landing directly in front of the red grouper.
Startled, the grouper swam away for a moment, but then cautiously approached again.
Yang Xiaolong didn’t rush and slowly turned the reel, causing the small octopus bait to move as well.
Red groupers are fierce predators, similar to black fish. When they are still, they’re fine, but once they move, they bite. As soon as the bait was moved, the grouper attacked it and bit down on the octopus.
The grouper realized something was wrong as the sharp hook pierced its lip, but it was too late. The barb was firmly lodged, and the fish began to struggle wildly.
The reel in Yang Xiaolong’s hand began to turn, and without much thought, he quickly lifted the fishing rod with one hand. With a “whoosh” sound, the rod bent like a bow.
As he reeled in the line and retreated, his right hand twisted and turned, cutting small waves in the sea. He alternated pulling the line to the left and right to counter the grouper’s struggling.
Feeling the strength of the grouper’s struggle, Yang Xiaolong was overwhelmed with joy, as he had never caught such an exhilarating fish before.
As he pulled in the line, it grew shorter and shorter until the grouper was right in front of him. “Come on!” Yang Xiaolong yanked the rod hard, but the rod was too soft, and he almost broke it. He quickly reeled in the line and slowly dragged the grouper up onto the shore.
Even on land, the grouper continued to struggle, flapping around on the rocks with a loud “slap, slap” sound.
Despite its seemingly small size, catching the grouper was still difficult work. In his hometown river, even catching an eight or nine-pound carp was easier.
Yang Xiaolong carefully removed the hook and compared the size of the grouper to his foot. It was at least four or five pounds.
Today, he had come prepared with a plastic bucket. He had only used it once before, to hold a small sea turtle. But today, it came in handy.
He filled the bucket halfway with seawater, and happily lifted the grouper and threw it in. The bucket was a bit small, so he had to position the grouper’s head up to avoid suffocation.
As he was washing his hands, he suddenly felt a tug on the hand line he had placed in the rocks. “Oh, another one,” he exclaimed.
Yang Xiaolong quickly grabbed it, while pulling the line, he manipulated the blue ring octopus to probe the situation.
A sea bass was struggling on the hook, trying to spit it out. It was not small, estimated to weigh two or three catties.
With a short fishing line, Yang Xiaolong didn’t need to exert much effort. He lifted his arm and slowly dragged the perch out of the water, creating waves.
He caught two big fish in a row, attracting a lot of people to watch.
A middle-aged man glanced at the fish in the bucket and was somewhat surprised: “Young man, you’re good.”
“Hehe, not bad.”
“Hey handsome, is the fish for sale?” Another man wearing a black vest approached and asked. He had a fishy smell all over him and seemed to be a fishmonger.
Yang Xiaolong hesitated, “What’s the price?”
The fishmonger lifted the fish, “This fish doesn’t seem to be in good shape, but the size is okay. The market price is 80 yuan per catty.”
Yang Xiaolong shook his head. Although he had not been in the harbor for a long time, he would often go to supermarkets and markets during his rest time. As a coastal city, although there was no shortage of various seafood, a wild grouper with such good quality was definitely worth more than eighty yuan.
Seeing him shake his head, the fishmonger added, “Okay, I really want to buy it today, I’ll give you an extra five yuan.”
Yang Xiaolong shook his head. It was getting late and the midday sun was quite strong, making his head oily from the heat. He got up and packed his fishing gear.
The fishmonger didn’t say anything and turned around to leave when he saw Yang Xiaolong packing up.
The temperature was quite high at noon, and the fish in the bucket were barely alive. Although there were many nearby seafood stores, they were all closed. They usually only opened in the early morning or evening, but without an aerator, the fish probably couldn’t survive until evening.
Carrying the bucket, Yang Xiaolong happened to pass by a vegetable market and decided to set up a stall in a shaded area to take a break from the heat.
There weren’t many people in the vegetable market, mostly just stall owners, with the occasional customer carrying a bag.
After waiting for a while, Yang Xiaolong leaned against the wall and dozed off.
An old woman and a young girl walked up to the stall and looked at the two fish in the bucket. The old woman asked, “Young man, how much are the fish?”
Yang Xiaolong was momentarily speechless. He had never sold fish before and didn’t know much about pricing. He had just looked it up on his phone, and saw that the price for grouper was between 100 to 120 yuan per kilogram, and sea bass was about 50 yuan.
After thinking for a moment, he said, “45 yuan per kilogram for sea bass and 110 yuan per kilogram for this grouper.”
“These fish are almost dead, can’t you give us a discount?”
“I can’t go any lower, these are just caught from the sea and they’re pure wild fish.”
“I’ll give you 100 yuan per kilogram for the grouper and 40 yuan for the sea bass. I’ll take them both.”
“Auntie, my business is really struggling. How about this, let me weigh the fish first, and if there is any extra weight, I’ll discount it for you.”
The old woman looked at the fish again, reluctant to leave. The heavily pregnant girl beside her became impatient and urged her, “Mom, are you buying or not? It’s so hot.”
The old woman reluctantly nodded her head. If it weren’t for her daughter-in-law’s pregnancy, she wouldn’t have been willing to spend so much money. It was enough to buy enough pork to last for several days.
After the deal was settled, Yang Xiaolong was at a loss again. He had been too busy setting up the stall and hadn’t brought a scale.
He looked over at a nearby grocery store, lifted the bucket, and led the two women into the store. There was only an old man lying on a chair inside, with a fan overhead gently swaying back and forth, making a soft whirring sound.
“I called out a few times, but there was no response. It’s unbelievable that someone can run a shop like this and not even notice when their goods are being moved out.
“Boss, I’ll buy some water,” Yang Xiaolong raised his voice.
“Two yuan for bottled water, and help yourself to the other drinks,” the old man responded reflexively upon hearing a purchase request. He then slowly opened his eyes.
Yang Xiaolong grabbed a bottle of mineral water and asked, “Boss, can I borrow your scale? I need to weigh something urgently, but I forgot to bring mine.”
The old man waved his hand, allowing Yang Xiaolong to use the scale on his own.
Yang Xiaolong put the fish on the scale and asked, “Boss, do you use kilograms or pounds?”
The old man became a bit impatient and stood up, rubbing his knee with his hand as he walked over to help press the numbers for a kilogram. He then noticed the fish in the bucket and exclaimed, “Wow, this is a beautiful fish. How much are you selling it for?”
“Please hurry, we’re in a hurry,” interrupted the old woman beside him.
“Alright, sorry about that,” Yang Xiaolong quickly weighed the grouper, which was 4.26 kilograms, and the sea bass, which was 2.68 kilograms.
Having never been good at math since he was young, he deftly took out his phone and added the numbers twice.