A visit from Boy Jaws
Having set the alarm for the ungodly hour of 0530 we kicked each other out of bed, made the ubiquitous early morning cuppa and set sail westwards out of the San Blas islands. We were leaving with a heavy heart as the weather was just perfect and we would have preferred to spend longer in the Holandes Cays. But our secret cash printing machine had run out of ink and we were down to the last $20. Mind you that didn't stop the persistent Mola sellers from trying and sell us something.
Having caught quite a few edible reef fish in recent weeks we were hoping for some decent sized pelagic to get our teeth into. Consequently the tiny hooks were put away for another day as Skip ferreted in the locker for the monster lures we trail behind us trying to kid a big ocean fish that its something worth eating. Neither of the first two lures worked in the initial 20 miles which was rather disappointing especially as we'd heard there were Wahoo in the vicinity. And that's a fish worth catching any day of the week. Time for a lure change. The two cedar plugs with wicked looking hooks were reeled back in and given a damn good talking to for their poor performance. A fake dancing and diving fish was deployed on the starboard hand line. Just as the port hand electric reel was being released with an awesome looking 9 inch fake diving fish we'd bought in Roatan Skip spotted that the starboard line was loaded up with something that had taken the lure and was currently being towed along at 5 knots behind the boat. The electric reel lure was quickly reeled back in so as not to cause an almightily tangle with the other line whilst the 'Admiral' urged that, like Corporal Jones, we should remain calm and not panic. This new policy arched back to when we lost a huge tuna in the San Blas. It unexpectedly took our favourite Rampala lure that we'd had since Portugal. The lure had already been retired once on health grounds due to so many bites having been inflicted on it by ocean predators. The loss had caused a near mutiny between Skip and the 'Admiral' as the Tuna, approximately 10 dinners worth, had been brought alongside and then lost, taking our favourite lure with it. There would be no more mistakes!
The 'Admiral's' eagle eyesight spotted a difference in the way this fish looked as it trailed behind us through the water. This comes from having direct experience of being stalked by Barracudas whilst snorkelling and having seen lots of jumping Mahi Mahis so such knowledge is to be taken seriously. Indeed it did look rather different. So, remaining calm, the gloves were donned and our new special hooking device crafted during a dull windy day in San Blas made its debut. Like a gaff only different it remains a closely guarded secret weapon from which Skip guarantees never, ever to lose another fish at the final moment. We'd publish a picture but its still top secret and in the prototype developmental phase.
Funny, usually these fish flash and reflect when the sun is shining but this one didn't - it looked grey and shadowy, in fact almost menacing as we started to hand reel the line round its spool. Then it became apparent that this was not an ordinary catch as the recognisable dorsal fin broke surface to reveal we had caught a relative of 'Jaws'. At about 3 ft long this must be boy Jaws and for us an unwanted capture. Now with damage limitation in mind we had to retrieve the lure without loosing a finger, hand or whatever. So our secret weapon was wielded, it being a much larger detachable hook mounted on a 4 inch cut off from an expensive old wooden deck broomstick. This is then slotted into the open end of an extendable aluminium pole and once the hook is firmly engaged in the fish the pole is detached leaving a stout line attached to the hook. (Dash, now we've gone and revealed the secret of the device). Setting the much larger hook into its cavernous mouth having got the blighter to the starboard aft steps gave us a better control over the vicious mouth. It was now time for the delicate operation of removing our expensive triple hooked lure from its mouth which amazingly it patiently waited for Skip to do, although to be fair with two hooks embedded in it's mouth it didn't have an awful lot of choice in the matter. Slowly, with fingers trembling the triple job was extracted using our fisherman's forceps. Bingo, we had our expensive plastic lure safely back. But we now had to recover the big hook which is where the major flaw in the plan was revealed. It was never designed for catch and release duties. The shark also cottoned on to this flaw as well and subsequently launched into a frenzy on the back steps with Skip desperately clinging on to the heavy duty line attached to the huge hook attached to the sharks mouth. Hollywood thoughts of sliding down into the cavernous mouth were obviously exaggerating matters although seriously at risk were our large fenders as we imagined each of them bursting under spiteful attack from the mouth full of teeth now trying to effect its getaway.
Gawd !!! We need a bigger boat
It's true to say that until you've experienced holding on to a thin piece of rope with an angry thrashing 3 foot shark on the end you've never lived! But just as Skip couldn't have had any more fun if he tried a further design flaw was exposed by our short-lived guest as the hook and broomstick piece separated from the line due to a faulty carbine hook and the grey mini-monster with the steely cold eyes ('Admiral's' words) slid down the steps and back from whence it came. And we weren't a bit sorry to see it go !! Hope the next guy has better luck with it. Now we have to rebuild the secret weapon.
The lure is huge .................................................. ..........and we have very small fenders ! and we will hotly refute any claim that we have over dramatised these pics!!!