Are you ready? I mean are you sitting down? Are you really ready? Ok, here goes … I, with help from my first mate, caught a fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A huge fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I (with help from one of our friends) filleted it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And we are in the process of eating it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The Story
There we were cruising down the Exuma Sound on our way to George Town without a care in the world. The weather was decent, but the seas were a little cantankerous, I am guessing 2 – 4 feet. We were trailing two lines, one from each of my rods. At the end of one was a green and yellow cedar plug, a well-known and effective lure when fishing for mahi-mahi. On the other line, I was using a pretty blue thing that had feathers on it; it looked a little different and I thought it might attract some kind of fish or another. I would check out the back periodically to make sure the lures were dancing at the end of the line and looked like the bait they were emulating; the cedar plug really looked like a wounded flying fish and the pretty blue thing looked like … a pretty blue thing skipping through the water. I wasn’t particularly anxious, I was just waiting. Then it happened.
|Me in my "fighting chair" on the aft deck|
Now it is possible that I hooked only one fish and that he got tangled in the second line, so when I lost “my” fish, both lines went limp at the same time. It is possible. But I would have sworn that for a few seconds there, I had two good sized fish on the line and that it was only a matter of deciding which one I would bring on deck first.
But I lost them. I was convinced that the story would end there. That’s okay, I thought, it would be a nice blog entry. Not the same as landing one, of course, but what the hell. Each time I hook a fish I am getting a little bit closer to putting him on deck. I knew that hooking a decent-sized fish, let alone two, was not a commonplace occurrence and I figured that had just lost my chance for the day. Oh Well. I sat and tried to figure out what I should do and finally decided that the only way to guarantee I would not catch a fish today was not to put a line in the water. So I dropped another cedar plug in and let it drift until it was about 200 feet behind the boat. OMG, thirty minutes later, it happened again. “Fish on!” (Ann didn’t say it this time either, but I knew that is what she was thinking!)
Again, I turned the synchronizers off, set the boat to idle, turned the helm over to Ann and headed to the aft deck. I sat on the pile of fenders that I used as my “fighting chair” (so I don’t fall off in bumpy seas) and began going through my process. Two big jerks to set the hook, let him run a little further, then slowly start to increase the drag. So far so good; I still had the fish. At that point it became a bit of a waiting game. He kept pressure on the line and I held the rod in place. I had 30# test on the reel and I would say that he was putting just about that much pressure on the line. For the next twenty minutes or so, all I could do was hold on. After a while, my forearms began to ache, just a little. It had been a long time since I had lifted weights and my forearms aren’t quite as strong as they once were.
The fish tried a few tricks during our little chess match. At least twice, he dove. Although not nearly vertical, the line was at a fairly steep angle. The water was 2000 feet deep. Well, he wasn’t going that far, but I am sure he got down a couple of hundred feet. He couldn’t get away. When that didn’t work, he tried running faster than the boat. My fear was that he would get under the keel and the props would cut the line, so when he started moving, I called “forward,” to Ann so she would speed up the boat a little. As soon as we moved ahead of him, I asked her to put it back in “neutral.” This went on for a good ten minutes—“forward,” “neutral,” “neutral,” “forward” – but every time we put the boat in gear, I could generally reel in some line by cranking as fast as I could. I actually started bringing him closer to the boat. At fifty feet away, I could see color. Unlike the last fish, this one had worn himself out during the fight; he had nothing left to put in a final sprint away from the boat.
|Now tell me that's not a big honkin' fish. I am 5'11", his nose is touching the deck|
Now, the moment I had dreaded was almost at hand. How the hell was I going to get him in the boat. As I reeled him even closer, I could tell this was going to be an even bigger problem than I had thought. The fish was big. He was at least five feet long. I pulled him closer and closer and even got him up on the swim platform. Ann was trying to get our net around his huge damn head. We figured if we could get the net around his head, that between the fishing line and the net, we could be able to muscle him on to the boat. Nope, no way. I then gave the rod to Ann and asked her to bring the fish up as far as she could. I lay down on the deck and reached as far as I could to get my hand in his gills. It kind of worked, but I couldn’t get any leverage. Finally, I asked Ann to bring it up as high as she could, and I would grab hold and bring it the rest of the way over the rail. She did a great job. When we got it on deck, I asked for a shot of rum, so we could pour some in its gills – a guaranteed way to make sure the fish doesn’t suffer any more.
Now I am not going to speak for Ann, as I am sure she will have something to say below, but while I love fishing and catching fish, Ann doesn’t feel the same. She doesn’t like killing the fish. Yes, she does like to cook and eat them. Yes, she knows this doesn’t make a lot of sense. No, she still does not like fishing and catching fish. So, while I was very happy that, through teamwork, we had managed to put the fish in the boat – Ann did not feel the same. Nevertheless, we had the fish; it was on the aft deck.
|Russ and I filleting the fish. Note that I am holding one of a|
couple of bags of pure mahi meat. MMMMM
Well, we laid out the fish on the large chest we have on the back deck – it was the only five-foot long platform we had. We watched a video, read the book, looked at the pictures, made sure we had sharp knives, then started cutting. Lord, I wish I could say we filleted that fish, but I am afraid we came closer to butchering him. It took us about an hour, and, even with our butchery, we managed to put about 14 individual meals into baggies. We gave four to Russ and Lori, ate some of the very small individual pieces that evening and put ten meals away for later. The pieces we had that evening were scrumptious – all the more so because we had caught the fish ourselves.
|Russ and Lori's first glimpse at the fish they had promised to help fillet.|
· Cost of the gear I have lost recently … $50
· Cost of the fish … $550
· Size of the fish … 5 feet
· Cost per foot … $110/ft.
· Meals from the fish … 14
· Cost of fish meal … $35.71 per meal
o Now, in any really good restaurant, freshly-caught mahi will cost you almost that much!!
Ann’s NOTES: Well what can I say, I am a team player even if I don’t want to be. Michael was so excited and he really could not do it by himself without the possibility of him actually falling in the water with the engines running. * note…I NEED him to captain the boat…although I do know now how to go from neutral to forward* All I can say is that it was a big ass fish, and heavy to lift out of the water. I hope next time he will catch a normal size fish, I do know there will be a next time. I still will not like it but it is what it is.
The days have been rather normal, not much to report. If you like hot and humid, this is the place to be.