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#1 Feb 08, 2018 10:43 pm

New Historian

Tale of a reluctant fisherman

Sailing down from Carriacou to Grenada:

As we got nearer the coast of Grenada we came across quite a few small fishing boats. The days of sail among Grenada's fishermen are long gone, replaced by the ever more practical outboard engine, and today's fishing boats are almost identical pirogues of about twenty feet. The fishermen nod, we nod back. They seemed to be doing pretty well, so Gerry and I decided to try our hand at a bit of fishing. Neither of us were fisher folk, in fact we both hated fishing, but before leaving Barbados we had bought a lure and hand line just to try our luck. The bait was a rubber blue and yellow-coloured squid, which struck me as odd because I had never seen a blue and yellow squid, but, as we were shortly to find out, it obviously worked. We played it out, cleated it off and forgot about it. We had more important things to do. Like tan and rehydrate. 

About twenty minutes later I looked back, and saw something thrashing about in the water. I slowed down the boat and we got a better look: jeez it was big. Very big. What the hell was this? Gerry put on his gloves, got his hands around the spool and started to wind the fish in. It wasn't easy; he was fighting all the way. We were impressed by the sheer power of the brute, and it took all of Gerry's not inconsiderable strength to haul him in, after one hell of a battle. The fish would go into a furious frenzy, jumping out of the water and making a big splash so that Gerry could barely hold him. Then he’d play possum for a while, gathering his strength, while Gerry also gathered his.

I watched this battle, entranced. Go on Gerry, get him! Ten sweaty minutes later, Gerry wearily hauled the fish up to the transom of the boat. When we got a good look at him, we were amazed. The thing was enormous! But what kind of fish was it? All we knew was that it was big. Very big. With sharp teeth. Very sharp.
But what now? We were so busy fighting the fish, we hadn't thought about what to do when we won. We had no gaff, net or fishing equipment of any kind – we didn’t even have any ice. And what if we got him on board? I had visions of this mad beast inside the cockpit, thrashing, gnashing and wreaking havoc on my boat - and us if we weren’t careful. If we did manage to kill him, then what? We’d have this big, dead, smelly fish on our hands, with no ice and no cooler big enough. We’d clearly bitten off more than we could chew, why couldn't we have caught a nice little snapper, instead of this monster? 

Our immediate problem was how to kill the thing. Pulling the fighting fish into the boat was out of the question. Gerry figured he’d haul the fish out of the water and hold it there until it ‘drowned’. So he leaned over the back of the transom, grabbed the backstay with one hand and with the other lifted the frantic fish out of the water. Better him than me, I thought. 

As Gerry lifted the fish up halfway over the transom, we could get a good look at him. He was beautiful. About four feet long with a sleek, glossy torso covered in brown and silver stripes. He seemed to look at me, his mouth snapping at air, and something inside me broke a little. How could we kill this noble beast, with the heart of a warrior?  He began to feel tired. I began to feel bad. I grabbed the camera and snapped a picture.  Just as I was about to cut the line, the fish made a final lunge against the transom. Thud!  He literally bit the boat, leaving a row of vicious tooth marks two feet above the waterline. The line snapped and the fish leapt in a graceful arc, and disappearing into the deep. We saluted him: go well, brave friend.
We breathed a sigh of relief. The episode had a morally correct ending. The fish lived to fight another day, and we got a picture, to prove our fisherman’s tale. Months later I showed the picture to some fisher folk, who said it was a wahoo, probably about 40-50 pounds. Which was a very big fish. I hope he’s still out there, terrorizing fishermen off Grenada's west coast.



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