Coming to Nicaragua cont'd.

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There were some good things about my time on Little Corn. It had everything you'd expect a mile and half square tropical island to have. I mean if there was a poster child for tropical isles, this would be it. Gin clear water, over-fished reefs, coconuts, iguanas, a boa constrictor endemic to the islands, ever present trade winds, friendly natives, LOTS of lobster to eat (oh, the benefits of sleeping with the chef!).

I was dispatched one day to do a fishing trip to supply the restaurant for the evening meal. The reefs had obviously been hammered for years, therefore the mainstay of our catch were pelagics or fish that move around a lot as opposed to fish that find a hole to call it home. Of these pelagics the most common was barracuda. Barracudas have a reputation for being poisoness, and therefore, bad to eat. Well, I am here to tell you that, while not being my first choice when given a choice, I have eaten cudas all my life without a problem and we served them to lots and lots folks without an issue arising. (They supposedly carry cigutera but then again most any apex predator has been linked to cigutera, but that is a whole other debate...) Anyway I headed out with a local buddy of mine to try and slay some fish for the establishment. Having hook and line fished commercially for snapper and grouper, I always take my terminal tackle situation real serious as nothing so much sucks as losing a monster fish (aka your paycheck) boatside due to some preventable mistake like a frayed leader, a lame knot, or a rusty swivel. So having my proverbial ducks in a row, we were trolling along with my personaly and perfectly rigged ballyhoo when a monster struck. You fish long enough and you begin to recognize the actions specific to individual types of fish when they get hooked. Cudas will often jump out of the water when hooked. This fish did not. This fish made a couple of long runs before sounding. Possibly a Wahoo? As the fish went deep below the boat it began a "death spiral" made up of slow, large circles with its head pointed downward. Water was clear enough and it was close enough to make out the form of a huge Kingfish or King Mackeral. Suhweeeet! I wanted this fish bad. This was gonna be bragging rights on the beach, as I had not heard of any kings being caught in the area nor one of this size. Many fish are lost when they gain sight of the boat and they make final efforts to get free. I knew my gear was right; it was just me and him and I was finessing him inch by inch closer as he fought to stay away from the monster above. Finally boat side, I am issuing Captain Bligh style commands to my first mate to not screw this up, gaff him right and get the fish in the boat. Then, for one second in time, the exhausted fish lay on its side parallel with the boat and there was the slightest bit of slack in my line and the damn hook fell out of the hole it had worn in the fish's jaw! Before I could yell anything, my mate cast aside his gaff and grabbed the forked tail of this beast with both hands. The way kings are built, this could possibly work as their tails are rigid and won't collapse on themselves as say a grouper's will. Fish are also built with various reflex responses (i.e. you don't put your hand near the mouth of a live snapper because their reflex response is to "snap" shut on your fingers). So similar to your response should someone "goose" you, a fish sensing action around it tail will use all its available energy to evade this situation by using its tail to try to propel itself away from whatever is "goosing" it. This is a big, powerful fish, about 5 feet long and when it feels my buddy grab on it responds as described. And my partner holds on as he gets wagged like the tail of a hyperactive Golden Retriever. Lesser men would have let go, but not this guy. As the fish tried to drag him overboard and simultaneously beat him senseless against the side of the boat, he held on until with a final Herculean effort he leaned back and lofted the king out of the water and into the bottom of the boat. Boated and secure from escape, many "Hell yeah!!"s and high fives were exchanged before we pointed the panga back to the beach. Hell yeah!

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