A Fishing Story

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Posted by Jared from (h24-80-137-46.no.shawcable.net) on Monday, February 18, 2002 at 05:46:18 :

This is not a story about fishing in Zihua. I'm feeling literal again tonight and have been working on this tale of a trip to the baja some years back.


Don't get me wrong. I like to go fishing as much as the next guy.....Well....maybe some guys like to go out a lot more than me.
But heck, it's fun to get out there, right.......occasionally.

Sure do like to eat those fish though, especially when you've caught them yourself. Often at great expense and sometimes at great risk to your life.

There we were, three novice gringos in mexico, far from the sight of land, in a rather well worn 20' fibergass open boat. Not a high prowed solid panga with plenty of flotation built-in. Just an thin shelled, large, runabout type hull with an older outboard engine. No lifejackets, no radio, no flares, not even a compass, trolling for tuna in a long rolling seven foot swell, and it was starting to get misty.

The day before we had been out in a much better equipped and safer boat and had caught 8 tuna between 8 & 12 pounds ... my avid fishing buddies were STOKED. So, next morning, when we couldn't get the same or equal boat, out we went in the last available boat and willing "captain"in the village.

No fish today. Just endless long deep swells and a cool, damp, misty, sky. Then, after fruitless hours, from the top of a swell, we all spotted a gigantic rogue wave rise out of the ocean about a quarter of a mile off. It was huge... suddenly and steeply it reared up at least 30' and crashed back down in a heartstopping explosion of water meeting water on a grand scale.

We looked at each other silently as we slipped back down into the trough of the swell.

"No fish here today". The "captain" says grimfaced, after we rose and fell over a few more swells. "We go in, get rock fish, off reef". We all agreed. All lines were pulled in and we turned towards.....shore? Ahead of us now, when you could see ahead from the top of a swell, was a long wall of thickening fog. And into it we eventually plunged.

"He's got a sense of direction from the motion of the sea...like those polynesian navigators you hear about" "He knows where we're going". I silently hoped as I furtively watched our "captain" intently guide the boat through the eerie gloom, up and down the swells. Little more was visible than the wall of water we were climbing or the one ahead of the one we were sliding down.

I was also watching a tear that had appeared in the fiberglass holding a longtitudinal beam to one side of the boat's hull. As the boat twisted and strained over the swells it would threateningly open and close, slowly and surely getting longer. "Damn... That thing could rip itself right off of there.... Without it this boat will fold up". I kept my thoughts to myself and kept watching.

As the mist finally started to thin, the sound of surf grew....The reefs...He had gotten us back to the maze of reefs we had had to weave our way through to get out from the village. Can he get us back inside safely? Those waves are hitting those reeftops violently. If this boat hits the hard, we are in big trouble. That beam and this boat will come apart. It's still a long way to shore yet.

A silent sigh of relief from us all as he expertly wove his way into a calmer sort of lagoon in the midst of barely visible reeftops all around us.

"Good fishing here". the captain says with a forced grin. Down the lines went for some rockfish jigging. But, after easily catching a half dozen 10-12" fish, with none of the usual excited fishing chatter, we all realized that the spirit wasn't there and the shore and some cervesas were calling, and they sure sounded good.

Safely back ashore, we thankfully paid the captain, gave him the days catch, and it was unspokenly agreed among us that the humbling experience would only be mentioned in terms of a lousy day of fishing.

At least we had the previous days catch all nicely filleted, on ice, in a large cooler. And...we were taking them home.

Almost three days it took. Switching drivers. Four hours at the wheel, eight hours off. Sleep when you can when you're off the wheel. Stopping only to fill the gas tank, grab a quick bite and ensure the ice in the cooler was topped up........A fantastic neighborhood "tuna steak barbeque" followed our arrival back home.

That's another story.

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