The fishing rod bent. A little at first, and almost instantly the straight rod looked like a shepherd’s crook As the fish’s pull sending the reel spinning, my watch was drawing to a close. The sun was already up and sleep was pulling at my eyelids. The whir of the reel brought me back to life faster than a bucket of ice water in the face.
In an instant I was at the rod doing my uneducated best to keep the fish on the line and not let it pull any more line out. But it was all I could do to keep it at bay. The monster was strong. Too strong for me.
“Christian! Help! We have a fish!” I called for my crewmate, desperately needing him to come take the rod from my trembling hands. This fish was more than a match for me.
Almost at the last instant I could hold it Christian took it from my hands and the swarthy Spaniard wrestled the fish. It plunged, trying its best to take the hook and line to the bottom of the ocean, but Christian just laughed. “This one is going to be a tuna,” he said, in his thick Madrid accent, eyes sparkling. “We will have a good dinner tonight.”
Try is it might the fish couldn’t win this battle. With powerful arms Christian pulled the monster from the depths and presented “my” fish to me. Those were the rules, he told me with his broad grin. It was on my watch, I had seen it and started it… it was my tuna.
I was a bit skeptical, of this philosophy, but I would take it. After all, it was my first fish. Not that I could have ever pulled it in on my own. With its meaty body and classic strategy of diving under the boat, tuna was not the easiest fish to catch.
The tuna gasped its final breaths flopping about on deck. I stood back while the powerful body flailed… Christian told me it was only around 20 pounds, but flailing it seemed much bigger.
I watched it breathe its last, sorry that we didn’t have fish-killing alcohol on board to speed it to a peaceful end. Even dead it was the biggest fish I had ever seen caught. I had trouble holding the fish. It was so heavy my couchsurfer friend had to help me hold it up.
Catching fish on a boat is exhilarating. It is a life and death battle between you and the fish. You are surviving on your own: catching, cleaning, and eating what you have caught. Still, as delectable as fresh fish is, as exciting as those first steaks are, when you catch a large fish and only have 4-people on a boat, there is a limit to the culinary creativity one can attain with somewhat limited supplies on a boat at sea.
We ate tuna for days. Steaks, stir-fry, omelets, and every way imaginable. I never thought that I could be sick of fresh tuna but I was more than ready for a fresh salad by the third day of our tuna-fest.