The winter had been and still remained yucky, clouds, wind, rain and the weekly northers, that seemed to always hit on Friday night and with our work, it cut our fishing down considerably. Easter and the warm currents in the Gulf couldn’t get here soon enough for my fishing friends and me, but as we moaned our fate, an opportunity showed itself!
In 1984 the savings and loan (S&L) industry was rolling, particularly the companies around Houston. We were all likely prospects to buy beachfront property either for personal use, or investment and did this one S&L have some prime stuff! Not only did they have properties, but also a 45, foot, cruiser complete with Captain and crew, docked in Cozumel and they invited us on a weekend, all paid, fishing excursion and we gobbled up the chance!
Friday of the first weekend in March we boarded and Aero Mexico flight to Cozumel that arrived in time for supper and the next morning, as the sun was rising, we loaded up on the 45 footer and headed out into the Yucatan Channel. The channel, or the Straits of Yucatan, runs between the island and the mainland and is the boundary between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.
White marlin, our quarry for the day, were just showing up south of Cozumel so we headed down, at speed, to almost Belize before we came about and began trolling back up the channel. We had four lines attached to our outriggers, with one teaser drug off of the transom. Our bait was ballyhoo, skipped on the surface at a nice clip and our gold reels and medium weight rods were loaded with 50, pound mono.
Next thing we knew, a white was beating the teaser to a frazzle with his spear! It was a beautiful sight, the marlin was “turned on” with a myriad of neon colors and whopping the teaser, when, pop, an outrigger snapped and the mate grabbed the rig, set the hook and handed it to me and I promptly refused! We thought we had made it clear to the Captain that we were going to set the hook and fight the fish. Reluctantly one of my friends fought the fish, brought it in, tagged and released it.
Procedures refined, a short time later, another white attacked the teaser, but this time there was no resulting strike, so I asked the Captain if I could troll a surface plug in place of the teaser. He growled a yes, the mate set me up and within thirty minutes, up came a white, appropriately “turned on” and struck my plug. Not only struck it, but almost jerked the rod and reel from my hands. Not having to worry about setting the hook, I held on as the white took off and the other lines were taken in.
Run, run, jump, tail walk, jump some more, run some more, until the white was exhausted and I brought it in, we tagged and released it. More trolling and next, another pop as an outrigger released. A friend grabbed it, applied pressure setting the hook and waited, as the line peeled off the reel, for the jump, but one never came. Was the marlin hooked deep? Could it be another species? Ten minutes later, our questions were answered as a stripped, silvery blue, fish, a wahoo, flashed by, saw the boat and took off on another long run. Wahoo are one of the fastest fish in the ocean as this ones line, peeling runs would attest. The wahoo, fine table food, was finally subdued, gaffed and put in the cooler, for a tasty meal that night.
As we were trolling we marveled at the Mayan watchtowers spaced atop the bluffs overlooking the beaches. These all had to be at least 6-700 years old and what were they watching for, the Spaniards, I guess? Another pop from the outrigger, another white, another fine fight and we tagged and released it. This was a pretty good day, 3, white marlin. 1 wahoo, good fishing and we were never out of sight of land!
Of course no pictures were taken, only mind pictures, but Saturday night was a night of good food, hard partying and, no, we didn’t answer the call for a half days fishing. We caught the afternoon Aero Mex flight back to “civilization”, Houston, but, a sad note, when the S&L’s crashed, another casualty was the 45 footer!