Da’ Big Fish Page 2
After a 30-minute battle the hook can sometimes wear a big hole in the fish. This is a dangerous time. One flip of the head, or given a tiny bit of slack and the monster could have easily escaped. I loosened the drag in case he took one more run as he got near the boat. He started to swim under us and Des put the port engine in gear to keep it behind us and well away from props, rudders, and the occasional barnacle that could have cut the 35-pound-test line.
Finally the mother of all wahoo was swimming with the boat, just 15 feet from me. I could not believe how big it was. I realized it was too big for me to pull aboard with my hand gaff so I asked Des to quickly tie a slip knot in a piece of line which she handed down to me as I handed the pole up to her. I had a hold of the leader and guided the fish to within range. By now the fish was totally exhausted and hardly fought the gaff. I was able to slip the noose around its tail and cinch it tight. It was over.
I had to rest for a minute before we could hoist it aboard. Then with Lady P.’s loud approval—and under foot the whole way—Des and I were able to drag it up the sugar scoop and into the cockpit where I was finally able to fully appreciate this mighty fish.
“Holy mackerel Des, this fish must be 60 pounds!” I roared—pun intended. Lady P. jumped on its back and barked in response. She was happier than I was because killing such a mighty fish is a little sad (but not too sad).
After taking a few minutes to take pictures and contemplate what to do next I began the tedious process of butchering the fish while trying to make a minimal mess. I chose my biggest knife, which had just been sharpened in Grenada. Filleting was not hard, just messy. Each fillet weighed around 20 pounds. I cut the beautiful meat into one and two portion sizes, rinsed them in fresh water, and slipped them into baggies which I then packed in ice.
Finally, when I had the fish stowed safely away and the boat scrubbed clean Des asked me, “what do you want to do with the cookies?” Cookies? Then I remembered I was making cookies when the fish hit. It seemed so long ago, I had forgotten all about them.
They had started out to be basic oatmeal cookies but now I was inspired to make them into “Wahoo Cookies” in honor of the big fish. They turned out great!
Des took the last tray of tasty little wahoo cookies out of the oven as we sailed into Polamar Bay in Margarita. We dropped anchor just inside the fleet of 100 sailboats and I picked up the radio mic to talk to my fellow cruisers.
“This is a general announcement for the harbor,” I began in my best radio voice. “This is Jack on the catamaran Famous Potatoes. A few hours ago I caught a 60-pound wahoo. It’s all butchered, bagged, and iced. If you’d like some fresh wahoo for dinner come on by.”