We met Ronnie at the boat dock, took a fun bay taxi (bay taxis are the little boats that take you to your boat which is anchored in the bay. You’re not allowed to just anchor up at the pier, so you pay one of these guys a dollar to take you to and from your boat. It’s really a neat little system) to our boat, the Blue and set out on our trip.
A little over an hour of getting tossed, but not tossing our cookies thanks to the patch we see some activity and get the lines ready. For those of you who have never done deep sea sport fishing here’s how it seems to work. You put six lines in the water and the captain drives around until you get a hit. Not to disparage Sander and my spectacular fishing skills, but we were largely superfluous. You don’t even have to worry about setting the hook because the fish hit the bait so hard, and the boat is moving fairly fast that all you do, literally, is reel them in. But man is it fun to reel them in. Sure the captain does all the work, and sure they hand you the rod, but once you get that rod in your hands and you feel the fight at the end, it’s electric. We decided to take turns reeling in the fish, and Sander had first ups. So when the rod indicator popped and you hear the real go “Whizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” you jump and the boat goes from lollygagging to purpose in a heart-beat. Sport fishing is the cliché about 95% boredom and 5% raw excitement. And for us, our first taste of 5% was four fish at the same time! So I grabbed a rod, Sander had his and we started fighting. And fight’s the right word. My arms were sore, my hands hurt, the line cut me up, and it took me at least 30 minutes to get that tuna to the surface. Sander fought his with equal vigor and landed his. Here’s what’s most challenging about the process. You work for what seems like ages to reel in 12” of line, then the tuna goes on a run and pulls out 36” of line. So you pull the rod up when the tuna’s resting and reel like mad as you lower the tip, all the while hoping that he doesn’t decide to go on another run. Sander fought one tuna (we caught 6 total as our captain found a bait ball) for almost an hour. It came to the surface no less than four times, each time getting tantalizingly close, only to go on another run to the bottom of the sea. Here’s what I found interesting about that. The fish that tuna hunt jump out of the sea when the tuna are after them, but the tuna dives down. Not one tuna we caught (which surely means all tuna) breached the water’s surface when trying to get away. Anyway, Sander sat in his chair and fought that fish with all his might. Ronnie was duly impressed with Sander’s moxie, he kept talking about how Sander wouldn’t give up, and just kept reeling. I have to say, I was deeply impressed myself. The boat’s pitching, the fish is moving all around so you constantly have to adjust, and honestly it is frustrating to work and work, only to see the fish take off again. Plus, for Sander, everyone kept offering to take over, which he didn’t want any part of, but which is obviously distracting. The upside for him was that it turned out to be the biggest catch of the trip. The tuna was about 4.5’ long and 5oish pounds, meaning it was almost as big as Sander.
So that was our day, trolling along in the water, watching albatross fly, looking for bait-balls and watching tuna jump. Seeing these huge tuna jump after their prey was a weird thing. They kind of jump and hang in the air, and the way the look is so unique that it’s sort of surreal. Just boing, a 50 pound tuna’s flying through the air.
As a side note, I learned that when you’re seasick, but can’t throw up, even though your body wants to, but an ear patch is putting some weird chemical in your system that prevents it, your body has to release that tension somehow. Sander naps, I get the shakes. It’s a strange feeling knowing that your body wants to vomit but doesn’t. It puts you in a weird state, and it’s definitely disconcerting. But I suppose it’s better than heaving over the side all day.
Anyway, it was a good first day of fishing, but there were no marlin to be had. That night’s talk was all about the marlin.