A Reel Adventure deep sea fishing in Barbados
Barbados fishing boat shadows, photo by
Barbados fishing boat shadows, photo by
It is a dark and story night – well, afternoon, to be exact. The sky is a solid sheet of grey and rain pours down in big fat drops that hurt when they slam against my skin. From a distance, there’s a low intense rumble – thunder, then an earsplitting crackle that makes the tiny hairs on my earlobes stand on end. Then a long dagger of white lightning slices through the sky. Yes, indeed. This is a perfect day to go deep sea fishing in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Bridgetown Barbados.
“It won’t last,” says Omar, the first mate or our Gilligan of the Blue Jay, a well-equipped fishing boat used for chartered trips for curious tourists and serious fishermen alike. My fellow shipmates are –Ewan and Sarah from Scotland, and a guy I dub Silent Sam because he never introduced himself to anyone. We all look dubious about this excursion, but we climb aboard the boat anyway as we’re drenched by the rain. On deck, Omar waves his hand in the direction of the cabin where a large jug of local Mount Gay rum sits alongside some sandwiches with mystery fillings and tins of Pringles. In this weather, I’m thankful for the rum.
Since no one is a hardcore fisherman type in our group, Omar takes care of everything we need to fish. Undaunted by the rain, thunder and lightning he baits six different lines and then sets the fish alarms. Is that so the fish aren’t late for school? (School. Get it? LOL.) The waves are a bit choppy as Captain Ricardo pulls out into the open sea. Within minutes, the fish alarm goes off. Sadly there are no bells, just a spinning flag on one of the lines poised above the boat. We look banking at one another, not sure what we should do. Omar directs Ewan to a chair with a metal tube mounted on the seat. Omar slides in the rod and demonstrates how to reel in the line.
I recall the photos of smiling people standing next to their big trophy fish tacked to the office door of the boat charter company. Could this fish be one of those marlins? Shark?
Ewan is still winding the reel. Then I see flashes of silver in the water as the fish is pulled closer to the boat. Omar yanks up the line and up comes a bonita, a nice one at about four kilograms or so. Then there’s another fish strike and Ewans is back to winding. He’s got a matching bonita, when also gets sent, still flapping into the bin of no return on deck. There’s another catch right after that – a small barracuda, which gnashes its sharp teeth at us as it’s brought into the boat.
There’s a pause in the action both in the sky and in the boat. Just half hour after it started, the rain has stopped and the clouds have slip away to reveal sunny blue skies. This is the Barbados that I know and love. My shipmates are investigating the sandwiches and someone opens the Pringles. The fish alarm goes off in mid-crunch. It’s my turn to reel it in and I must make a quick decision there and then. Fish or chips?
I go with fish and take my turn in the hot seat. My arm starts to ache as I wind and wine. I’m excited to meet the fish that will forever be my very first big-sea catch in the Caribbean. Up it comes and it’s a bonito, too. It’s a teeny tiny one, no bigger than a Twinkie. I’m embarrassed because I know that in fishing size definitely does matter. My fellow shipmates are sympathetic. One even offers that, though my catch is very small, it is certainly the best looking. Best looking? When deep sea fishing becomes part of beauty pageants, I might have a chance. Until then, I still want my whopper.
Over the next few hours, we reel in more fish. I even bring in my barracuda, which saves me the permanent psychological scars of having caught only small fish. Then suddenly, the fish stop nibbling. My shipmates are becoming restless and bored. Silent Sam stares off into the distance. Omar is on his cell phone. The rest of us crack open the case of Banks beer and we wait.
As the sun slips slowly closer to the horizon, we roll up our shorts to catch the remaining rays of the day, exposing our white chicken flesh, and we wait again. Then it’s time to return to port. The fish start biting and we pull up a bunch of small fish, not a single marlin or tuna. They may have eluded me this time, but I’ll be back. As God as my witness, tomorrow is another day and my hope still springs eternal. And it’s the hope that will keep me and other newly minted fishermen coming back for more.
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