Chapter 7: Returning to Port
The first fishing net was finished, and there were only two large fish weighing around ten pounds. Today, there weren’t many fishing boats in the entire sea area, and the catch was quite bleak. Could it be that the big fish had all migrated?
Boss Zhang frowned and didn’t speak, taking out a wrinkled cigarette to light up, gazing at the location of the second fishing net not far away.
“Boss, should we continue to cast the net?”
“Let’s wait a bit. The tide should be receding soon.”
Boss Zhang finished smoking his cigarette, and sailed the boat to the spot where Yang Xiaolong had caught the wolf fish earlier, ready to try his luck here. Except for bad weather, wolf fish are usually found in groups.
After casting the net, they also retrieved a few crab cages they had thrown earlier.
“Boss, come over quickly.”
The boat had just arrived at the spot when Liu Yufei, who was at the bow of the boat, waved at them. It seemed like he had discovered something.
Yang Xiaolong followed and saw Liu Yufei leaning over the side of the boat, tightly holding a crab cage. The cage half emerged from the water made a rattling sound.
“What are you standing there for? Help out!” Liu Yufei urged, his face turning red from the long period of heavy labor he wasn’t accustomed to.
One crab cage is not light, and the frame is welded with steel bars. Adding the weight of the net, it weighs around ten pounds even when empty.
Yang Xiaolong helped lift the cage and it turned out to be a big catch. Two big blue crabs, each weighing about eight or nine taels, held each other with their big pincers, not letting go.
Don’t underestimate blue crabs, as the biting force of their pincers is not to be underestimated. If caught by them, even if it doesn’t result in a fracture, it will still take a chunk of flesh with it.
The harvest from several crab cages was good. They caught five or six big blue crabs and two or three iron crabs weighing about three or four taels each.
Crabs can’t be put together when lifted out of the water, or else their pincers will clash and break, especially if their shells are soft. They will easily be crushed to death in a few bites.
Boss Zhang came from the wheelhouse with a plastic rope, “Xiao Liu, tie up the crabs. I’ll take the boat out for another round, or we won’t even have enough money to pay for fuel today.”
Liu Yufei took the plastic rope and tore off a piece with scissors, handing it to Yang Xiaolong.
“Yang, can you help me out?”
“I’m sorry, I’ve never dealt with this before.”
“I’ll teach you, it’s very simple.”
Liu Yufei put on gloves, carefully used tongs to pick up a fierce-looking big crab, stepped on its back with his foot, and then wrapped the plastic rope around its big claws.
After five minutes, the crabs under his feet were still not tied up, but a lot of plastic rope had been used to wrap the big crabs up like a mummy.
“Liu Yufei, do you even know how to do this? You’re killing the crabs before they’re even dead.”
“Shh! Keep your voice down. I’ve only been here for a few days, you know that.”
Yang Xiaolong rolled his eyes. Although he didn’t know how to do it himself, after watching Liu Yufei struggle for a while, he figured out the general steps. It was similar to tying up crabs during the Mid-Autumn Festival back in his hometown, just tie up the claws.
The two of them worked hard for over half an hour to tie up the crabs. Although they didn’t look great, they completed the task. The tied-up crabs were thrown into a bucket, and you couldn’t tell it was a crab unless you looked closely, with both eyes tightly wrapped.
In the evening, the sun dimmed and the fiery red sunset painted half the sky. The endless horizon looked like a fiery fire.
The tide slowly receded, and Mr. Zhang navigated the boat to the area where they could cast their nets. With the experience from their first attempt, their cooperation was smoother this time, but the catch was still somewhat disappointing, consisting of only a few mackerels and some ornamental fish.
“Boss, should we keep fishing?” Liu Yufei asked.
“Return to port,” Mr. Zhang replied with a black face, then walked into the cabin. Liu Yufei made an embarrassed expression.
After helping to put the fish in the live fish tank, Yang Xiaolong found a place to rest. He was tired after a day’s work, and the return journey was too fast for fishing.
As the evening approached, the sun dimmed and the fiery sunset reddened half the sky, while the endless sea looked like a blazing fire.
It took nearly three hours for the fishing boat to slowly approach the shore, where the lights were on, and trucks of all sizes were blocking the opposite dock. The fishmongers beside the trucks were shouting and arguing with each other.
As soon as the boat docked, several men and women rushed over.
“Boss, how was the catch?”
“Not so good,” replied Mr. Zhang, his face still dark. He turned to Liu Yufei and said, “Get the big fish out.”
“Okay,” Liu Yufei replied obediently, knowing not to say too much. He picked up the fishing net and walked towards the live fish compartment.
Yang Xiaolong grabbed his bucket, amazed at the effectiveness of the oxygenator that kept the fish alive and jumping around all day.
“Hey, young man, do you want to sell the fish?” one of the fishmongers approached and asked.
“Yes, what price?”
“Thirty for the sea bass, and for this sea wolf that’s not very big, I’ll give you ten.”
“Nevermind, I’ll look elsewhere.”
Yang Xiaolong picked up his bucket and prepared to leave. He didn’t know about the other fish, but he had just sold sea bass two days ago for thirty, so ten was not worth it.
Just as he took a few steps, two more people came over to buy. Although the price was slightly higher than before, it was still not ideal. Anyway, he didn’t have many fish, so he decided to bring them back to the dormitory.
As soon as Yang Xiaolong arrived at the dormitory, Fan Zhengqing returned as well, and the two met face to face.
Feng Zhengqing took the bucket from him and was surprised to see the fish inside. He liked fishing too, but he had never caught anything before. Although he had tried it many times, he had never succeeded.
The dormitory originally had three people, but Liu Yufei had left, and the new employee was a young girl. So now, only the two of them were left.
They didn’t talk much that night. As soon as the sky started to brighten, Yang Xiaolong got up, washed up quickly, and checked the water in the bucket. The air conditioning had made it cool.
Since the fish came from the sea, he didn’t dare to replace the water with tap water. He had worked hard to bring it back, and if any of them died, he would lose out.
Their work started at 8:30 a.m., and it was only 6:30 a.m. now, so Yang Xiaolong decided to take advantage of the time difference and set up a stall at the market.
The small seaside town in the early morning was particularly beautiful, with a gentle breeze carrying the coolness of the waves. The sun had just risen in the east, and occasionally a few seagulls flew by. The fishermen in the town had begun another busy and fulfilling day.
Yang Xiaolong arrived at the market when there weren’t many people around. He went to the same grocery store as before, where the old man was struggling to set up his stall.
“Boss, do you have a small electronic scale?”
The old man turned around and saw the young man who sold fish a few days ago. “Yes, we have. What price range are you looking for?”
“I’ll take a look first.” Yang Xiaolong wasn’t sure, he had never done business before.
The old man’s shop was not big, but there were all kinds of things, from small needles to daily necessities.
Yang Xiaolong looked at a few models and finally chose one that cost 120 yuan. The old man said it could bear up to 200 kilograms, but he didn’t know if it was true or not, and he had never tried it.
With everything he needed, he asked the old man for a plastic bag and carried it with him, murmuring to himself about losing money. Yang Xiaolong smiled but didn’t pay any attention.