We fish offshore. 5-8 miles out. I prefer 30 miles. Land – out of sight, out of mind. Just try and find me. But when it’s really hot and there’s no wind, sitting on the sea’s surface is like being in an oven. The sun is hot enough to cook a body, any body.
“I smell pork rinds,” he says.
“That’s just my belly fat. Basted and fried in sunscreen.”
In the summer heat, there’s a glare on the water. My eyes feel like they are parboiled eggs. Rivulets of sweat drag salt and sunscreen into my eyes. I begin to understand why fishing is an F-word. In the cool of winter, when we stay in, I worry that we might never fish again. in the summer, I wonder if it will never end.
We do what is called “recreational sports fishing”, that is, we troll. Or you could say we drag baits through the water. Our trolling speed is slow, sometimes nauseously slow. If done all day without any strikes, it can be boring as hell. I get hot, sweaty and greasy with sunscreen. I hang over the side wishing I could fall in. That would cool me down. But then, who wants to chum sharks?
I hate fishing in lobster season. When we troll with four or more lines in the water, it’s a bitch out there if lobster traps are out. Set up to sucker some poor lobster inside, the lobster pots hang below the surface. They are suspended by a rope and only the float is visible on the surface. Snag your lines on one and you’ll make everyone’s day.
Trolling is even harder when there is a bigger boat heading straight for you. When I’m at the wheel it’s always a boat with a humongous outrigger spread. A big mess if your lines tangle with theirs. All you get is pissed off fishermen.
While I’m driving the boat, Howard is usually in the back, putzing around with the lines, baits, down riggers or anything else he can use to ignore me. This invariably leads to yelling, a lot of it:
Silence. He’s busy. He’s focused on something more important.
More silence. Must be a rogue bait back there.
“Howard! There is a boat heading our way…coming right at us!”
More silence. I look to see if he’s fallen overboard.
“C’mon. It’s coming straight at us. Which way do you want me to steer?”
Still no reply. He’s working. Probably at getting deaf.
“HOWWWAAARRRDD! There is a boat coming straight toward us, his lines are out, and he is taking the right of way.”
Finally a reply: “WHAAATT?”
“There’s a boat heading straight for us. Which way do you want me to turn?”
“Keep it straight.”
“Straight? We’re going to tangle lines! Maybe even collide!”
“He’s 10 miles away.”
“Just go straight…”
Sometimes the best fishing is when we come out the Inlet. We’re heading east into the rising morning sun. We’ve hooked 60 pound wahoos there. I love to hear the outrigger snap and watch the reel bend as Howard struggles to bring the big fish in. He says his arms are longer afterwards. I tell him that he was probably dragging his knuckles before we left the dock. Besides, it was worth it. That was what we were there for, wasn’t it?