Saturday, December 28, 2013

Darrell - part II

     Yeah, his boat.  Thirty some feet long, two big outboards on the back.  Weighs about the same a Paul Bunyan's canoe.  It gets him there and back.  The there is sometimes only five miles away, sometimes twenty-five, depending on whether he's heading to the seven Mile Bridge, the reef or all the way to the Gulf Stream.  As near as I can figure, the farther he goes, the fewer and bigger the fish.
     And the bigger the bill when Darrell refuels.  He says you can't go around calculating how much a pound of fish costs when you catch it yourself.  Like that's possible for someone like me.
     Lois and I spent a month in Marathon down in the Keys three years ago.  During those weeks I had the chance to get on the water five times with Darrell as I recall it.  One of those was with one of Darrell's neighbors.  The man was a patented old coot but knew his way around the water and was foolish enough to let me drive the boat. More on that later.
     On that trip we headed all the way out to the deep blue water of the Gulf Stream.  Made me feel like a balding, beardless Hemingway who doesn't know how to write and doesn't pick bar fights with gay men (could be the writing part is the one characteristic we share.  No offense to the to the man, seems to me he managed to win a Nobel Prize).
     Out there I got to see the floating blue footballs that are call Man 'o war jellyfish.  Gotta admit they're pretty neat looking for something that can make you consider peeing on yourself (probably and old wive's tale but then I really don't know).  Almost up there with the flying fishes we ran into.  Don't know if they're actually flying but they sure can cruise quite a distance through the air.
     On that trip we were in a single outboard powered catamaran.  When the man asked me if I'd ever driven a power boat like his I honestly said no.  By then we were on the deep blue and had throttled down to trolling speed.  That I didn't know my ass from a hole in the water didn't stop him from handing me the wheel.  All I had to do was keep the heading where it was on the compass.  Simple enough.
     Woulda been better had he asked me to run a completely random zig-zag pattern.  Good thing we didn't get lost or end up in Cuban coastal waters.  Finally in desperation, he and Darrell simply suggested I follow the weed line.  Now, the weed line I'm familiar with can usually be seen by looking over the side of the boat.  Out on the Gulf Stream there was no way I could see hundreds, or thousands, of feet down to the bottom.  Wrote them off as total idiots till they simply pointed out the miles long path of floating weeds we were edging along.  Oh yeah, I knew it all along (hard to keep a straight face when you're a total bozo like me).
     We didn't catch anything on that trip.  That's the way she goes sometimes even if the cap'n can shoot a straight line.
     Darrel is a bait user.  And he's a chummer.  Since I'm not a bait man, and am way too cheap to drop the money necessary to fish out on the ocean, I'll never be a deep water fisherman.  On the other hand, I understand the function of each in the scheme of things, it was Darrell's boat and I was thrilled to be on the water even if it was salted.  And that's not to mention the companionship.
     The ocean's a big and deep place and as far as I can see there's no good reason for fish to be anywhere, unless food is involved.  Kinda like fresh water except for the big and deep part.  That's why he chums.  What he uses is a beer case sized, frozen block of fish parts, sticks it in a mesh bag and hangs it over the side of the boat.  The block slowly melts as the boat moves along and makes a trail of stink on the water.  Guess fish like stink 'cause the do come nosin' around.  Sometimes.
     The usual plan out on the big water is to have a bunch of rods set up on down riggers with small fish called ballyhoo rigged on the business end of the line.  The rigged bait is trailed a ways behind the boat along with the stink line.  Then the boat is puttered along so as to make the bait look like it's swimming and havin' a good time with a bright plastic skirt stuck to its head.
     The plan is to have some big assed, highly edible fish to come along and think to itself, "Lookie there at that little fish with the bright plastic skirt stuck to its head.  Stinks so bad around here it's just gotta be some fine eatin'."  Then the fish goes and hammers the bait causing the rod back on the boat to commence wigglin' and bouncin' and it's time for one of us to grab the rod and reel it in.
     Lesson learned:  Darrell always has a belt on the boat with a cup in the front.  A rod handle fits nicely in the cup.  In addition to making it easier to reel a fish in it also protects the family jewels.  Next time I'll remember to ask for the belt.
     On the trip in question, both Lois and Linda came along.  It was like a picnic on the water except for Lois learning she might be susceptible to sea sickness.  And I did get to catch a couple of king mackerel  That's a nice way to say that Darrell did all the work but let me reel the fish in.  Thanks Darrell.

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