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Got you Hooked yet?

You’ve read two of my fishing tales.
Hooked yet? Maybe not, maybe you think I’m one of those past-their-sell-by-date
people who don’t really know what they’re talking about.

Wrong! I mean, just look at this photo. Those are my yellow gloves and
that’s me, holding tonight’s sizzling supper. Caught it, all by myself, even if
that does sound like boasting, but I do have to confess I was on someone else’s
boat where the lockers were just bursting with fishing gear.

Now look at this other picture. The mean-looking creature with the big
blue eye and the teeth. I caught him, too. One look at those teeth almost had
me chucking him back into his watery world, but then I thought, “I just have to
take a picture, because who ever heard of a fish with blue eyes and teeth like
medieval daggers?”

After that, I began to get serious about fish. True, all you doubters. I
studied them in books, learned their various blue stripes and how many fins and
what shape and so on. I could tell you at a glance (um …well, almost) if we
were looking at a false albacore or a frigate mackerel or a bonito or whatever.

Alas! So much for this newly acquired erudition; I never caught another
fish. Except the one I already told you about, the one my cat spurned and
dragged into her litter box.

So instead of telling you about the fish I didn’t catch, I’ll tell you a
little story. It was when I was on my way from the Grey Country (Britain), to
the Colourful Caribbean, I stopped a while in sunny Madeira, the country of
flowers. There, in the fish market, I wandered around, taking photographs of
these many strange marine creatures, arranged amid ice and flowers on the
stalls.

Suddenly, my eye was taken by some action. I saw a seller pick a fish
out of a tray and wind it up in a circle or two. This was a long, skinny black
creature, still very much alive. Now this particular fish had brains. It
realised that a further change of address, from sea to fishing boat, from boat
to stall, from stall to plastic bag, from bag to stewpot, was just one move too
many. With super-piscal agility and cunning, it leapt out of the bag before the
woman could tie a knot in it, slithered at great speed down the slope of the
stall and fell onto the floor. There, it went whizzing along among countless
pairs of shoes, whose owners started leaping about; some even started
screaming. Immediately it was pursued by a good number of people, barging among
the crowds, scattering onlookers like straws. I was sorry to see it captured,
although I have to admit that even an eel would have found it difficult to cope
with Madeira’s road traffic, had it managed to escape the building. Well, never
mind an eel. Even I did.

I immediately resolved never to eat eel. Not that I ever had! They look
sort of slimy. But in Madeira there was to be found another fish, also long and
black and skinny, also rolled up and stuffed into plastic bags, which I was
most happy to eat. Its name? Espada. And do you know, I couldn’t find it in any
book about fish! However, there’s plenty about this fantastic-eating fish on
the internet: the Black Scabbard. Just the memory makes my mouth water.

Well, just wait …. Next time I’ll tell you how, in the Bahamas, I
closely escaped Death by Barracuda.

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