What Constitutes a Successful Fishing Trip?

Everything that I do best happens after 2pm, so when I asked Tony, “what time are we leaving for the dock?” And his reply was “we leave at 6:15am.” I must have winced because his response to whatever gesture my face pulled was, “you said you wanted to go deep sea fishing? Then this is the time it happens at.”

Thankfully the wife and I had a fairly exhausting Friday filled with activities such as paddleboarding, walking around the central market, grocery shopping and a late night swim. Honestly, I was happy to be this tired, Friday night in the hopes that I’d be able to get to sleep before 11pm. Thankfully, tonight I’ve exceeded my expectations and made it to 10:33pm, then found the bed, set the alarm clock for an unheard of time in my vacation vocabulary, 5:15am, and feel rapidly asleep.

The real issue was when my eyelids popped open every 2 hours and 12 minutes, filled with wonder and excitement, hoping that the alarm clock was about to begin ringing for the 5am wake-up call.

Stretching out a right or left arm depending on how I was situated at that moment, I’d depress the clock button and see it had only advanced about 95-minutes. I knew it every hour this was going to be a restless night!

And when at last the alarm bells did start to ring, I slapped that snooze button just like I do every morning when at home before having to go to work.

Crawling out of bed, I scooped up my prepacked day bag and deep brown straw hat, exiting out onto the balcony to retrieve my board shorts.

Out of a set of clothes and into the other than into the kitchen to prep both breakfast and snack items for the trip. Ten minutes into my preparations, and Tony appeared from down the hallway. “Good morning,” he said in a chipper and jovial way. “Hey Tony,” is all I could manage at this unheard of hour.

Whilst I worked on eating my breakfast and packing my lunch for the fishing journey, Tony pulled out a prepacked lunch from the freezer along with a frozen bottle of water and shoved it into a day cooler. “Hey. If you need to put anything into the cooler, you go for it, okay?” He remarked as he poured water into the coffee pot. “Sounds good,” I replied.

All I heard was the door down the hallway shut as he walked by grabbing his little red cooler and stating the obvious, “I’ll meet you in the car in five.” As he opened the front door and disappeared down the hallway.

Shit! I grabbed everything stuffing supplies back into the fridge, then into the bathroom, deodorant, brushed my teeth and back into the kitchen I went grabbing the 5-litre jug of water, slipping into my Keen sandals and picking up my day bag packed with; snacks, extra shirt, sunscreen, epi-pen, Olympus TG680 camera, bug spray, SPF-60 lip balm and cash.

Down the three flights of stairs I went in the pitch black morning as I drew near the car I spotted Glen already crammed into the backseat. “Good morning,” came sliding out my mouth as my knees touched the dash-board and the car bounced down the driveway headed for the gate.

Less than a five-minute drive and we parked at Marina Chahue to meet up with the Marinero brothers; Gabby and Francisco. I learned from Tony that their parents own Grillo Marinero, a local seafood bar and grill restaurant. And the boys, as it were, go out fishing everyday to catch seafood for the restaurant.

Pulling away from the marina, we safely disappeared into the bay and eventually into the Pacific Ocean.

Without a map to follow along, I watched the horizon line to the east as an extremely large red sun formed on the horizon line masking behind the clouds. The giant sun peaking here and there for at least an hour. Whilst the sun rose and awakened the sleeping humans in their resort and condo beds, I pulled out the camera to begin documenting our sport fishing journey.

Over an hour out of the bay Gabby had strategically placed five reels and let out all five lines behind the boat while his older brother Francisco followed the trolling LCD fish-tracking device mounted on the console area. With no bites after 45-minutes, we began slowly coming across a flock of six small and very rustic fishing boats.

Francisco and Gabby explained these guys were friends of their father’s and they had been on the water since 3am. That they were trolling as they headed back to sell their catches. Also Francisco struck a deal with one of the boats to get a bag of 2 to 4 inch bait fish. Which would ultimately assist in the capture of two 15-inch red snapper, reeled in by yours truly and Glen.

After the red snapper where in the boat, the boys decided we should advance our skills and go for the BIG BLUE MARLIN also known as sailfish.

A handful of unsuccessful areas we switched gears. I grew tired and laid up in the stern of the boat, as the morning drew on. My eyelids barely able to stay open from the excitement thus far. Twenty minutes into my snooze-fest and one of the lines went BA-zzzzzzzzzzzeeeee…

Francisco, yelled, “We’ve got one on the line!” Glen sprung to his feet heading to the left of the captain’s chair with 3 long strides asking what he could do? At the same time, I sat up, reached into my bag, withdrew my camera, hopped to my feet and went right. As I approached Gabby, he says, “Here take the line,” and I paused with bewilderment and excitement and a bit of cloudy siesta (napping) brains. “Um. No. You do it,” was my simple response. My camera at the ready, I snapped a couple of photos.

The marlin went right, ducked the surface, went left, ducked the surface sprang all the way out of the water going 100% vertical completely out of the water, splashing sideways, then again up into the air and snap! “Pinche!,” exclaimed Gabby. “Shit!” said his brother. The rest of us stood wondering what just happened?

As it turns out, a marlin in the corner of its mouth on either side has razor-sharp teeth which can chew through a 50-weight line. Francisco estimated the marlin to be 5 to 7 feet in length and up to 200-pounds! Holly mackerel, is all I thought. Followed by, Francisco stating out loud to the team, if we had brought it in, we would have taken photos and tossed it back into the ocean… With a further explanation of, “a fish that size is too difficult to pack on ice and eat or sell in the restaurant. It is best to just catch, take photos and release.”

Smiling the brothers noticed the waves had begun to increase in size. “Hey, you guys okay with calling it?” Asked Gabby.

“I’m okay with it. Whatever best suits these guys?” I said. Glen agreed and Tony, too. Next thing I knew we were all assisting in bringing in all lines in the water. And soon we were splashing away through the waves.

What seemed like an eternity in time we passed beach after beach as the 30-foot boat cut through the raging Ocean waters . Every time the stern of the boat went down five feet it would sky-rocket into the air ten to twelve feet and splash down against a new wave in turn sending spray over the side drenching everyone on board.

Somewhere between Playa La Bocana and Playa Tangolunda, I began pondering “What Constitutes a Successful Fishing Trip?”

  • Catch one small fish
  • Catch one large fish
  • Catch 12+/- fish of any size
  • Catch no fish and enjoy the journey

After we had returned to the marina, docked the boat, paid and thanked the Marinero brothers, I posed the lingering and unanswered question to Tony and Glen. “The thing about fishing is you never really know ‘if’ you will catch any fish? It’s all a big gamble when you leave home. And as long as you have enjoyed the time out on the water with the people who you are with. Then that constitutes a successful fishing trip.”

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