fish T A L E S
A big fish turns the tables
Wilbur Bonnet handed his backpack to the mate, Squiggy, and stepped down into the cockpit of the Dawn Lee. The sun
started to break over the horizon. Squiggy introduced the three men who would be fishing with Wilbur on this charter. The
captain was on the flybridge and had the engines running. As soon as the dock lines came aboard, they were off.
Wilbur sat in the fighting chair as the other men disappeared into the cabin and went back to sleep. He watched the water
change shades as they got further away from land.
He was hopeful that he would catch a big fish. Even if he didn’t, he thought he could get used to this lifestyle. Fishing all
day and having a few drinks at night was far better than dealing with slippery crooks, small town politics and budgets.
He got out his camera and took a few pictures of some of the commercial fishing boats that were also heading out. He was
well prepared to capture the action if they caught a big fish. He had developed an interest in photography many years ago
when his police department was able to buy a really good camera for crime scenes. Now he owned the best equipment he
After about two hours of running, the captain pulled back on the throttles. Squiggy began putting out lines. The change
in the engine tone woke the other anglers. Squiggy explained that each man would sit in the chair for 30 minutes at a time.
That man would fight whatever fish was hooked then rotate out for the next angler.
“You guys figure out what order you want to fish in,” Squiggy said.
Wilbur volunteered to go last, and the other men picked the remaining slots. When trolling, most of the time is spent
waiting and watching the baits bob around in the wake.
As the Dawn Lee trolled toward Bimini from the west, the El Conquistador was dragging lines from the east headed for
the same fishing grounds.
On any given day there are many boats trolling the waters around Bimini, a chain of islands located about 50 miles
due east of Miami that consists of North Bimini, South Bimini and East Bimini. A lot of fish stories begin with, “We
were dragging lines near Bimini …” It is an area of myths, legends and lies.
Aboard the El Conquistador, Roger could see that Luis’ mate knew what he was doing. He had local knowledge
that had already helped avoid uncharted shallows. He also expertly prepped the trolling rods and rigged the baits.
When they reached the fishing ground he knew just by the shade of the water and signaled for the captain to slow.
He quickly got the lines out. Now they were fishing.
Roger felt excited about the possibility of catching another big marlin. He thought it strange that he had so much
passion about a hobby. He never felt this way about anything else except his airplane.
Luis, the boat’s owner, joined Roger on the flybridge. He was a non-stop talker. Normally Roger would have no
patience with endless chatter but for some reason he liked the sound of this man’s accent. So, he just listened to
Luis babble about the sky, the water, the birds, and how the baits were performing.
Roger could see boats in every direction. Luis cautioned his captain to stay as far away as possible.
“Cross lines, it’ll be a mess.” He pointed to one boat that was particularly close. “That guy is hooked up. Fish
could run anywhere, give him a wide berth.”
48 august 2022
my s t e r y