Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Fish Story

6:30 AM and Geraldo backed slowly in front of numeral Uno on Reforma. John tucked his bike away as we loaded into the cab of the truck. At this time in the morning it is usually a bit chilly, but not today. The cooling breezes from the surrounding hill sides had not arrived during the night and the air was sticky warm.

We drove over to the dock in Barra where Geraldo’s boat is moored. Falling in line, we walked past the old disco and onto the docks. Geraldo went about preparing the boat as we stood and chatted. There were more fishing boats tied to the docks this year. Not as many sail boats.

Still dark, we idled out of the slip and entered the labyrinth of canals leading to Barra’s fishing port. Geraldo drove by instinct, having taken this path a million times. We joined a few other boats heading out of the mouth of the port. Our captain nodded good morning to each as we passed.  The day of fishing had begun and the sun had not even brightened the eastern sky.

We pointed out to sea and Geraldo accelerated to about fifteen miles per hour. Our course told me that we were heading off shore in search of marlin and sailfish. If we had headed up the coast or even down towards the airport, then I would have guessed we were searching for Dorado.  The El Nino waters made for better odds that we would find some of the bigger fish. The unusual temperatures, water in the high 80’s and low 90’s have driven the Dorado and Tuna away, leaving the marlin and sailfish to cruise and hunt.

Our destination for the day was a large reef 20 to 28 miles off the coast of Melaque.  The reef juts up from the ocean bottom to about 900 feet and this causes currents that provide food for smaller fish and so the big boys stalk this area looking for their prey.

Three fish on one hook. Two Remoras one marlin.
At right around 10:00 AM, I was watching our lures bouncing behind the boat. Geraldo had set out five rods with lures to entice any predators that were stalking the area. Glancing back at the lure set out furthest from the boat I saw a splashing that was much different than the lures movement. The splashing subsided, but I knew we had attracted a fish. I poked Geraldo and told him we had a fish back on the far lure and he sprang to the rod. Moving the lure back and forth, up and back, he teased marlin until it struck. Within seconds, the fish had taken the lure and was hooked. I slid into position and took a hold of the rod waiting for the burst that comes when the marlin realizes that he is hooked.

The burst never came; in fact, a second run never came. I reeled and Geraldo maneuvered the boat and within 7 minutes the fish was in the boat, the fight over, victory was ours.

We looked over the fish and realized a possible reason that it didn’t fight or jump. When the hook was set, it went into the mouth and had jabbed up into the eye. We figured this stunned the fish enough that it couldn’t fight and so it just allowed us to pull it in. The fish was a striped marlin and measured over six feet from tip to tail. It would make a great Christmas dinner for all of us, we were pleased.

Now try and smile.
Back on the hunt, we pulled the lures for four more hours.  During that time, we had four hits, two from marlin and two from sailfish.  The two species of fish attack the lures in different ways and Geraldo was able to, with almost certainty; tell us whish strikes were from which fish.

On the way back in we motored close to the shipwrecked Los Llantinos when we came back to Barra. Man, that ship is huge and it rests on the rocks like the captain had parked it there.

By the end of the day, we were tired and hot but we did have a big fish to take home for dinner. 

During our day of fishing, the temperature hit the mid 90’s and we found out that the humidity was hovering around 86%. This mixed with being out in the sun about killed me.  All I could do was to get in the pool and then lay in the air-conditioned bedroom for the rest of the evening. 

Los Llanitos shipwrecked of Barra rocks. 

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