Monday, December 12, 2005

J-Man vs. The Barracuda

It's our second day in the Bahamas and one of Amy's co-workers is extremely psyched that he has secured a boat to take us out deep sea fishing. He finds Amy and I eating breakfast with two of Amy's other co-workers, Crystal and Lorrel, and demands that Lorrel join him on this voyage.

I am a complete outsider in this group to begin with, then add onto that the fact that I neither golf (well, I have, but I really suck) nor hunt (which it seemed all of them do??), and I'm basically like the fat kid in gym class. So, of course, no invitation is directly extended to me. However, Lorrel is insistent that I go, so that Amy will go, and therefore his fiance will go, so who am I to argue with that kind of logic? I figure an afternoon of sitting on a boat waiting for the fish to grab while throwing down some beers can't be that bad, so I'm in. I fork over the $175 for Amy and I, and we're in.

Now, there may be some of you that already know what "deep sea fishing" is, but it is not what I had originally thought. The boat does not stop moving. You do not hold your fishing pole. And throwing down beers is a recipe for disaster.

What you do do is sit on a stank boat that is constantly "trolling" the waters with 4 or more lines cast out behind the boat. It's hard enough to stand on the boat when you're sober, so after my first beer, I decide that I'm cut off. Within an hour of our departure, Crystal is puking, I haven't touched anything associated with fishing, and the same four lines are still dragging behind the boat. Another hour passes and now I'm searching for my iPod to take my mind off of the sheer stupidity of this endeavor.

Perhaps the fish like Evanescence, because Amy Lee gets out two words when our first line takes hold, then a second one snags a moment later and the excitement has begun. Lorrel and the other guy quickly spring to a seat and the captain puts the pole in their hands to reel the fish in. Seems simple enough...tug and wind...I take notice of the way to reel it in since I've never done this before and feel a bit more at ease as the fish get pulled in rather easily. When the fish is right by the boat, the captain snags it with a hook (I saw a trident in a store while I was down there, and was very tempted to buy it) and chucks it into a bin. What a blood bath! 2 hours, 2 Wahoos (that's the name of the fish they both caught) and now back to the iPod.

More time passes and Amy's co-worker says I should get into the chair so I can get the next one that grabs. I take my place and wait...and wait...and wait. And then we've got a grab. The captain puts the rod in position in front of me and the instructions begin.

"Let it go until the reel stops moving, then start pulling him in slowly"

(Simple enough)

Except the reel keeps spinning and spinning. Why is this fish swimming further and further away damn it! Finally, he stops and the reeling must begin. I start turning the reel as I had seen but this whole tug and wind out the slack thing complete eludes me.

(You see, so that you don't strain yourself too hard, you are supposed to tug back with your whole body, then lean forward as you reel so that you're merely reeling in the slack)

Had I thought this through during one of the first two hours of mindless sitting, perhaps my right arm wouldn't be burning as I fight this fish closer and closer. Did I mention that I'm not right handed? The others on the boat are continuing to scream with encouragement as I reel the fish closer and closer, and there is no giving up at this point. Not since the first time I laid my eyes on Swank magazine has my forearm ached, but as the fish gets close and flies out of the water, I see my competitor and I make the last of the reels.

The captain hooks the fish and everyone stares in amazement at the fish I have brought aboard.

A 3 foot, 30 lb. barracuda with teeth like a rabid dog sits in a pool of blood in the bin, flapping and snapping its final breaths. The biggest fish anyone caught that day, and the first fish I have ever caught in my life.

I have felt the power, I must kill again.

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