Second Chances

1 Aug

I know you were hoping to read some sappy love story about how Lea dumped me and took me back but too bad suckers, she ain’t going to give up her free fish dinner catcher ;).  This is yet another story about the greatest super hero of the modern times.  Me.  Well actually that’s another lie, it’s a story about a fish.  I know you are surprised to hear that since I almost never talk about fish.  Shit that’s another lie, I guess I’d better get to the story…

I hopped out of my car and shielded my eyes from the sun as I squinted back to 20/20 vision and scanned the reef out in the ocean.  “It’s clear,” I told myself.  I couldn’t believe it so I squinted again.  Yep blue water welcomed my squinting eyes and I hastily ran back to my car and started gearing up.

In less than five minutes I was kicking past the breakers and onward to the reef.  Along the way I passed some beautiful barred surf perch, I watched them dart back and forth in the sand.  I admired their reddish bars and made a mental note to try to catch some later for a display we have.   Small baby white perch flittered by them and I had to smile.

Sometimes I’m so dumb I should kick my own ass.  I’ve been working at the aquarium now for what…23  or so years?  All this time and I never knew I had a spot where I could shoot fish on my lunch break during a short drive from work.  Rarely is the visibility even ten feet, usually it’s more like five feet.  But today was epic, I was looking at about 30 feet of visibility.  It’s amazing, most of the time I could barely make out rocks or reef, today I in the clear visibility I could see past the feather boa kelp and it was like being at Catalina Island.  The kelp was loaded with all kinds of life, small bass and small rockfish could be spotted peering under the small blades.  I made a drop and surprised a 3 pound lobster sitting outside of his cave, I glared at the bastard for being out in the open when it’s not lobster season and to show him who was boss I reached down and touched his head to send him scurrying back into his hole.  See you in October sucker!  I made another drop and suddenly was surrounded by thousands of open mouthed sardines, the school parted like moses parting the seas and curved around me, only to join back up as they passed me.  It was amazing.

I worked my way to the deeper part and saw a patch of sand up between the rocks, as I slowly crawled forward I made out a mouth, and then a head and a tail far away.  Holy cow that’s a nice halibut!  My breathhold was almost up and I reached out with my small rabitech 90 cm gun and pulled the trigger.

Pfffftttt, the spring steel shaft shot forward and pegged that fish mid body.  I watched it dart forward and as it sped away taking my floatline all of a sudden the line went slack.  WTF???? I dropped down and followed the line and sure enough the damn slip tip didn’t deploy.  My trophy was gone and I was left dejected as I kicked back up and cursed myself for losing such a nice fish.  I hoped that shot wouldn’t cripple it and sentence it to a slow death.

As I worked my way forward still I made another drop to another reef and once again saw the smiling mouth of a hidden halibut.  I repeated the motions and once again the fish exploded out of the sand, at first I thought it was the same fish.  I saw the slip tip toggle and as I retrieved it noticed it was smaller than the first one and unmarked. I sighed quietly as I dispatched the fish and worked my way up the reef.

The thought of the fish I had lost earlier had never left me and I scanned the whole reef looking for it, but all too soon my time was up and I had to head back to my car.  As I loaded my gear in my car I made myself a promise to go back to the reef after work.

I felt like an excited kid waiting for christmas to come, it seemed forever until that clock swung it’s hands to five oclock!  I stuffed my still wet gear into my car and made the short drive back to where I had been in the afternoon.  As I gathered my still wet gear I noticed the visibility was still great and as I entered the water noticed it was still warm.  Once again I made my way down the reef and thoroughly enjoyed the visibility.  This time two gigantic bat rays flew next to me and then darted away.  I spooked a few short halibut without even seeing them.  Sargo made their short mating croaks and swam in front of me and then back again.  Opaleye boomed away as soon as they caught sight of me out of their kelp canopies.   A couple of big kelp bass swam up to me and then quickly disappeared into their caves.  I saw more fish that day than I’ve seen all year put together on that reef.  A lot of life  but unfortunately I never saw my lost halibut.

As I got to the deepest part of the reef I took a deep breath and silently dropped down.   Way at the bottom of the reef  I noticed a lot of bait schooled up and as my eyes adjusted I noticed a huge electric ray gliding above them.  I’ve only seen a handful of electric rays in my life so I cautiously approached it and then suddenly as it darted forward in an attempt to catch some of the bait I saw the mottled coloration.  That’s no electric ray!! It was a halibut and man a pretty nice one at that.  As I leveled the gun I noticed a hole right in the center of it, it was the halibut that I had lost earlier in the day.

I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger, the shot was true and the next thing I knew I saw that halibut give a mighty shake and spit up a huge piece of bait before it dashed into the deeper water.  I carefully played it on my floatline and knew that the slip tip was holding this time.  Every time I gained a bit of line it would dash out and take out more but eventually I worked it upwards towards me and I grabbed the fish and dispatched it before it could tangle me up and drown me.  As I examined it I could tell it was definitely the fish I had shot earlier and had the hole to prove it!

I didn’t weight the pair but the smaller one was probably around 8-10 pounds and the bigger one close to 15.  Not my biggest halibut but definitely the biggest I’ve shot during my lunchtime :).  I gave some of the fish away and cooked some in my cajun maple syrup marinade, the fish definitely made quite a meal.  I was amazed that I had been lucky enough to find this fish again but I was even more amazed that the shot didn’t seem to bother it and that it had continued to hunt and chase bait!

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