I used the word ‘fleshy’ to describe a fish last night. The Spanish Mackeral flaked off of the smoker and the smells permeated across the yard. It’s a combination of dill weed and salt water that almost brings the ocean home. April offshore trips are perfect. The mornings are cold and it makes you feel more seasoned than you are. The tourists have left, and they will return with the better weather, but for now it feels like the only people here are the ones in on the secret.
The Macks take well and keep you occupied. They are for the smoker, a sort of consolation from the ocean that keeps you fed and relieves the monotony. Beer is God’s consolation for slow fishing. Knots amaze me, as does someone who knows a thing or two about finding and catching the invisible monsters from Earth’s last real wilderness.
The Pilar was once the world’s most successful offshore sport fishing boat. Hemingway was a successful writer because he was successful at everything else. He didn’t need an imagination; he had already lived it all. He described writing short stories like they had already existed, that all they needed were some words on paper so that others could imagine what he had already accomplished. He didn’t ‘write’ stories, he ‘knew’ stories. I think about what it must have been like on that boat. Imagine the pressure of fishing with a man who believed that the whole world could never really keep up with him. It took a plane crash, a bush fire, and a lifetime long booze binge for the world to finally catch back up.
Captains have an enviable sense of self-reliance. Persistence, accuracy, and faith supplement a concrete belief in systems and cycles. It is Cobia season, and the shit of it is the same as the success: it’s just staring. Staring hard, for hours, looking to find that one brown shark of a fish just close enough for casting. He watches the water, we watch him, like following a guide who has no map. We’re not quite sure what we’re looking for, but this guy seems to think that he does so we might as well shut up and not get left behind.
And it comes together like lightning, and the friends are radioed while the enemy boats are scoffed at. We’ll never know what they caught, but to hell with ‘em while we bask in the ‘fish on.’ You reel in, I’ll keep you fueled with beer and we’ll all meet at the propane fryer to drink too much and fall asleep.