Adventure with a side of…?
BY HUNTER HILL
You may remember, at the end of my last column, I was about to go out to sea in pursuit of wild tuna. And even if the goal was to catch fish to fill a freezer, there was always the possibility that it might not happen.
So it is with a rumble in my stomach that I can now tell you that we failed to locate the tuna on our trip.
After a three hour drive to the ocean and a six hour, 100 mile boat ride out to sea, we spent about 10 more hours chasing and hunting our elusive prey.
During the chase of the trawlers and the descent of hundreds of feet in the cold, dark waves, our weather was not as calm as an empty catch might seem. In fact, in terms of completing an adventure, our bounty was rich in marine life encounters.
As we crashed at the first light of day, over the swell that rocked our boat up and down in climbs of more than 15 feet at a time, I first spotted a small pod of dolphins that seemed to be following our way through the gray-blue endless expanse. As we settled into our first spot of the morning, they actually came in from the side and split up, chasing bait several hundred yards behind our boat.
Back then we had lines in the water and we were trying to fish where the bait was found. As I continued to watch, the separated pods of dolphins suddenly rushed towards each other, driving the bait into a concentrated ball, through which they swam almost violently, grabbing their breakfast.
If you think it’s a group of a dozen people, you’re wrong. There were over 100 dolphins in total, not counting other small groups that jumped alongside the cruise ship on our many short trips between fishing spots.
At the next spot, we were losing sight of those pack hunters, when something caught my eye from the corner of the boat. At nearly 50 yards a lone fin was nearly twisted in the water, slowly tumbling/flailing as it meandered straight for us. Some of the other guys on the boat guessed it might be a shark after our bait, but I wasn’t so sure. I guessed it might be a sunfish, due to its lethargic movements. Speculation continued until the big fish was directly at the stern of our ship, shining up to 14ft or more below the surface, still waving its top fin out of the water as it passed like a beautiful sleepy reservoir. .
It was actually a sunfish or, as the captain called it, a mola mola. (Just guessing the exact spelling of that.)
Unfortunately, other than these, the only fish we saw were some dead bait and a small mahi-mahi which we caught thinking it was a weed on our squid rigs.
Although it was by no means a haul, I was certainly happy to be able to bring home an odd-looking fish to show my son. He reacted to it with all the curiosity and excitement that a dad can hope for by sharing the totems of his adventures.
After surviving another six hour steam to shore and unloading into our trucks late at night, the adventure ended with the chance sighting of a fox on the inlet shore, roaming the edge of the tide for a seafood surprise.
Although we didn’t catch any tuna this time, I could see large vessels fishing for squid and other fish, and offloading their catches onto city-sized processing barges, far from the shore. There were also trawlers and the like, dragging clams and other edible shellfish closer to shore.
The exit here, there are opportunities in everything. There was a chance to catch fish, but there was also some opportunity to learn and observe parts of God’s creation that I had had little or no exposure to before. I could dwell on our empty coolers, but instead I now have, among other things, a very entertaining video of my son attempting to kiss the mahi-mahi, before jumping in surprise when I scared with.
What we take away from these experiences are memories and a permanent sense of wonder, for us and our children.