On Wednesday morning we were lounging around having our second cup of coffee, discussing whether or not we wanted to spend another day in Calabash Bay. On one hand, we felt that there were still some folks at the resort that we wanted to inflict ourselves upon, but on the other hand, I wanted to change out our raw water impeller, and I thought that changing it in Georgetown was a good idea, in case something unusual came up.
We both were in agreement that we wanted to get back to the resources available to us in Elizabeth Harbour, so Rosie began to get the bridge and cabin prepared for departure, and I hauled up the dinghy and secured it to the davits.
I had routed a course that would keep us in protected waters along the banks of Long Island, until we could turn due west where the wind would be at our backs. I also put out our trolling gear. Not really expecting to catch any fish, but our "new" fishing rig was nearly nine months old and I hadn't caught a fish with it yet.
We were slipping along in 70 feet of water at six and a half miles per hour when the reel started singing. I had a fish!
Rosie took the helm and I began to reel in what felt like a whale. Once the fish broke the surface I could see that it was a barracuda. I told Rosie to keep us at a low idle, enough speed to keep us on course, but slow enough to for the fish to offer less resistance. I did also worry about the fish running up and fowling our props with the line. Where was I supposed to learn any of this?
I got the barracuda alongside the boat and hauled it up for Rosie to see. The fish was about three feet long and the lure was hanging outside of it's mouth. The hook was barely in the tip of the barracuda's snout. The fish gave a flip and was gone!
I stared at the tooth scarred lure for a minute, in deep despair, but soon gathered myself up and let the line and lure back out for another go.
Not just a few minutes later we had another bite. Rosie took the helm again and I started pulling in another fish. The one was fighting harder, and once it broke the water, I expected to see a huge marlin or something, but what I had wasn't big, but it was putting up a fight. I could see that it wasn't another barracuda.
I got the fish alongside the boat and this time I had Rosie grab the book hook to use as a gaff. Rose also had the phone and took a picture. (Remember when we took pictures with a camera?) I had no idea what to do with this fish. I couldn't get the gaff in its gills, it was flipping around too much and I was afraid I'd lose this one too. I remembered a trick I had read about, so I told Rosie to get the vodka.
I had read where you can pour whiskey into a fish's mouth and they will calm down. We didn't have whiskey, but we had vodka. The fish was holding still to get any vodka in its mouth, but I eventually got enough in there to calm down the fish. I wanted to take a swig myself.
I got the book hook into the gills, the fish was big enough the the bulky boat hook fit. Rosie had brought the cooler down from the bridge and I put the fish in it and covered it with the little ice we had in the freezer. I still didn't know what kind of fish we had, but I knew that it filled the small cooler from end to end, and that it was big enough to feed both of us.
Now I was stricken with the fishing bug. I put the line back out and in thirty minutes I had another barracuda. Now, I have to admit, I hadn't spent much time getting to know our new Penn reel, and it has more knobs and dials on it than my first transistor radio. Well, I flipped the wrong thing and line spun out of the reel and created a bird's nest. I somehow got my left index finger tangled in the line and then the line nearly cut the tip of my finger off.
There I was bleeding and finally reeling in my fish, but clearly the wind had been let out of my sails. I brought this smaller barracuda in, not knowing what to do with it, but decided to let it go. I got near enough to its teeth to use my pliers and get the hook out of its mouth.
I didn't know it at the time, but the size of the 'cuda was great for eating, but I was happy to have just the one mystery fish and all of my digits intact. My fishing was done for the day.