“Good morning, my name is Lance and I’ll be your captain and fishing guide for the day.” Lance, a short, stocky man, is introducing himself to Brad and Beck, a chunky Ozzie couple that are spending a few days on their honeymoon fishing, an effeminate Japanese exchange student named Cho and yours truly. Nice people. I like them all.
“We’ll be fishing for red snapper today. No marlin around and we won’t be in waters deep enough for tuna or other such species. Has anyone fished red snapper before?” Blank faces all around.
“It’s easy,” he said, holding a rod aloft. “Lead weight goes here at the bottom, then two baited hooks are higher, here and here. The lead weight bounces along the bottom and the fish will go after one of the hooks.”
Hopefully, I add to myself.
I have a perfect 0 for 6 or 7 record salt water fishing.
Lance fires up the clattering diesel and we’re off at 8:00 exactly. I like that.
The weather is cloudy so I lie myself and think that the fishing is better when it’s cloudy.
Lance squints at his GPS, and about an hour later he cuts the engine and drops anchor. “Good spot, this.” We all gear up except Beck. She refuses to bait her own lines. Too icky.
But she’s the first one to catch a fish, and that has us all smiling. Red snapper, small one, about the size of a teacup plate. Lance takes the fish off the hook – why isn’t her husband doing this? – and tosses it back in the water.
Then I get one. Hey, my 0-for drought is over! Another snapper. They are much like rock bass. But the snapper’s colouring is different. Orangy-red with mother-of-pearl spots. Nice looking fish.
Then Brad snags one, then I, then Beck. Another tugs at my line. I give my rod to Cho so he’s not left out. He brings it in like a pro. Bigger. About the size of a dinner plate.
Things slow down so Lance raises anchor and we’re off to another spot.
We do that three times, then a bit of a technical issue. Something is wrong with he winch that raises the anchor. It turns and turns and turns but the rope just slides around the winch. Lance tries to lift the anchor manually but no dice, it’s just too heavy.
I start to wonder if we’re going to need the assistance of another boat.
Turns out that a rescue won’t be necessary. Brad, who’s a mechanic for Caterpillar, diagnoses the problem and fixes it with a hearty screwdriver and a few well-placed WHACKs of the back end of a hatchet.
When in doubt, use a bigger hammer.
We rumble back into shore after about six hours. Fishing has been good. Not spectacular, snapper aren’t the most exciting thing to catch – they just hang on but don’t really fight – but I’m happy with the outing.
A good Malaysian meal at a nearby restaurant, a beer at the hotel bar and then it’s off to bed. A good day. I will sleep soundly.