Me and my sometime fishing companion Michelle took a little time off last week to attend a wedding down near Cancun, Mexico, and, as I had about used up my welcome at the pool and had probably annoyed the staff at most of the other establishments at our resort, I decided to do a little bit of offshore fishing on the last full day, and kind of “get away.” The cost was nearly nothing compared to what I have paid on the left coast, not to mention the right one.
I gathered together a rather sorry group of five, and we left our un-airconditioned (except for our room) resort on Playa Del Carmen at a very irreverent 0730 on Thursday July 20th. I had been told the trip included tackle, bait, crew of three, beer (not enough to become a problem for the Captain), and snacks at the end at the marina (frijoles and chips). We gathered in the lobby and, remarkably, everyone showed up. Right on time, the little man in a sky-blue tie showed up and called my name, and we were on our way.
Apparently, in Mexico, having an open container of beer is less of a concern than around here, as there was plenty of Cerveza Frias for sale in the van at two for $5. We arrived at the marina in an unexpectedly quick 15 minutes, and were shown to another (full) bar. None of our hung-over group was into drinking that early, and we sat down and listened to the speech by some guy with some authority. Basically, there were three options if you catch a fish: 1) release it, 2) have the marina prepare it and eat it at their restaurant or take it to your hotel and have their chef do it (Michelle checked and no fish caught was allowed on the property), or 3) give it to the crew. On our boat there was apparently another option, which is to kill them and toss them back into the water.
There was no visible safety equipment, and the boat was a real piece of junk (and I mean this kindly, but when I tried to grab a piece of boat above the cabin it came off in my hand. However, those guys knew where the fish were, and we were within sight of the marina as well as Cozumel. We would at least probably be found if something went wrong after the sharks finished up with us. It did have a radio. After leaving the dock, the crew started deploying the six lines we trawled with, and wahoo was the bait. Not 15 minutes had elapsed when the mate came in announcing “Fish on,” and we let our token deck wench, Brittany, reel it in, a nice sized but vicious Great Barracuda. Hers was probably in the average range, which I later found out was 28"-38” long.
Not 10 minutes later, Lance Romance brought in a nice Yellow Snapper (later found out it was mighty tasty). I was enjoying the action, and as usual I did not care if I brought one in or not, as I just like being there, and it was fun to go with people I knew. Before I knew it, I was shoved into the fighting chair and told to “reel and reel, no pull!” I reeled and reeled and reeled, and this fish did not want on board our boat. Thankfully, it finally arrived at the transom, and more thankfully, the mate dealt with it and all its teeth. I could tell it was a bit larger, but thought nothing of it. They put the fish in a box by the transom (no ice). Shortly thereafter Jonathan brought in a rather rowdy Red Snapper that must have weighed 30 pounds. It was a beautiful fish, (and made a beautiful lunch for five hungry people a little later). In the last hour, the captain asked me whether to continue to trawl or to bottom fish. I responded that I would like him to do whatever he believed would bring in the most fish. He and the two crew howled and whistled for the fish, and we brought in another Great Barracuda (I forgot who), a little shark (Brittany), a small Grouper (Jonathan), and a strange black fish the crew would not touch (Lance Romance).
On the way back, the mate came in the cabin where I was probably nodding off, and announced that my Great Barracuda had exceeded the marina record in length. He asked if I wanted it mounted, and having always wanted to have fish on the wall in my office, I said, “Yes, I am a fool, and I will do it!”
I have checked and it appears I may have indeed exceeded the length record in that part of Mexico. Who knows, really? Sometime in the next three or so months, and after a lot of money goes South, it should arrive. I probably would have sprung for the mounting anyway without the record, but it might be real, and that’s cool. It is almost four feet long.
The marina fried the two Snappers and the little Grouper for us for nothing! Holy crap that was a good bunch of food. Maybe the best we had on the whole trip except the night of the wedding. Five hungry people could not eat it all. Jonathan and I took ample boxes of it back to our wives, and still there were pounds of good fish left. That was definitely a good feed.
The van ride back to the sweaty resort took longer because we stopped at a couple of legit, air-conditioned resorts on the way back. The resort is kind of cool, but there is not air conditioning anywhere on it except in the sleeping rooms. We found out the staff are paid to scare off animals at the beginning of every shift. I noticed the birds eating off the buffet. After five days we have become a little bit acclimatized to the temperature, which has not happened since the ‘90’s in Lagos, Nigeria, when I lost 37 pounds, and could not handle air conditioning at all after six months. There were other things I could not handle also, but I have gotten off the subject again……
Overall, the trip was a good one for me, especially because I now hold the record for The Great Barracuda in Quintana Roo, Mexico, at least at that Marina. I expect congratulatory correspondence from El Presidende of Mexico soon, as well as Melania. It also didn’t hurt that those nice people in red coats at Delta Air Lines (who were speaking rapidly in Spanish at the gate at Cancun…I just smiled like I knew what they were saying) had the wisdom and discernment to allow me and my wife into First Class, along with some famous guy from wrestling that Lance Romance knew about called Diamond Dave.
If Delta reads this, Michelle really appreciated it and we really tried not to enjoy too much as all the other wedding guests adjourned to kennel class where your knees touch the seat in front of you. Sorry….. I applaud Delta’s judgement in putting us in First Class where we truly belong. Reminded me of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, when people were talking about how travelling was better in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. It doubtlessly really was. It certainly %$# now.
Until next time, on whatever seas,