IT’S LUCKY FOR FISH that water isn’t more transparent. I think we’d catch a lot more of them if we could see them down there, thumbing their noses at us. Of course, what I do isn’t really fishing. At least, it’s not the sport of fishing. What I do is hook ’em and winch ’em in.
It just so happens that sailboat speed is a good trolling speed for many species of game fish. Five knots or so is a speed that invites a slow-thinking fish to snatch instinctively at bait whisked past his nose. It’s fast enough that he doesn’t have time to think and inspect the lure closely for signs of life. As long as it looks vaguely like something he’s eaten before, and wobbles like something he’s eaten before, he’ll lunge for it. Five knots is also slow enough for him to react. It’s not so fast that the lure doesn’t even register on his tiny brain. Five knots is about right.
As I said, I don’t fish for sport. I simply bolt my Penn reel straight onto the tubing of the aft pulpit, which happens to be about the same diameter as a regular fishing rod.
I just let out 150 feet or so of 50-pound nylon hawser with a flashy lure on the end, and set the ratchet. I used to know the rule for how much weight you need to sink the lure so many feet at which speed, but like so many other things in life, it’s gone now. There’s only so much I can stuff into my cranium, and if I shove something new in today, something from the past will fall out the other side.
So I tow the lure with a big treble hook and I wait for the noise and I winch in my supper. Of course, this doesn’t always happen as planned. Actually, the last fish I caught was a salmon up north on Vancouver Island in 1999. Probably illegally, too, since I didn’t have a license. I think I can safely reveal that now, because the statute of limitations has run out.
Mostly, though, I just tow the lure and clean the seaweed off it every day or two and have soup for supper. It saves a lot of mess in the cockpit.
All men are equal before fish.
— Herbert Hoover, NY Times, 9 Aug 64
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #52
Diesel exhausts (2). Blue smoke. When the engine’s own lubricating oil is being burned, the smoke is blue. This can be the result of worn piston rings, valve guides, or oil seals. The oil can comes from an overfilled air filter or too much oil in the crankcase.
A tourist on safari in Africa came across a man struggling hand-to-hand with a huge lion. Nearby, the man’s wife stood calmly with a rifle in her hand.
“Why don’t you shoot the beast?” the tourist asked.
“I will if I have to,” she said, “but I’m hoping the lion will save me the trouble.”