Jaime Herrera of Santa Barbara brought the best story of the week to Hook, Line & Sinker fishing center. This battle should have been caught on video, but there was no one available to do it.
Jaime is a very popular figure in our local fishing community because he puts together a lot of fishing trips and makes lots of friends. That’s easy for Jaime, because he is one of the warmest and friendliest people in town — which is good, because he’s a mountain of a man who looks like he could bench press a tow truck. From looking at him, you’d think that a cabezon couldn’t stand a chance, yet large cabezon are tough wily critters that do not fear much. It was a great heavyweight matchup in the cabezon’s turf.
He and a friend were working deeper tide pools near Santa Barbara for lobster and crabs, using only their hands to feel into lairs and under rocks, grab lobsters and crabs, and then wrestle them out while waves washed the rocks around them and got them soaking wet, which can be chilly in December. Things can go wrong doing this, and Jaime’s hands are not exactly dainty or pristine.
Suddenly Jaime felt something large and squishy and instinctively he gripped it tightly. That was like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite, and the critter went wild inside its cozy lair. Hanging on was tough and was hard on the hands.
Jaime knew it was the tail of a big fish, so he tried to pull it out backwards. Nope, the cabezon wanted no part of that and flared its gills widely, wedging itself tightly. Jaime’s friend tried to help by pushing and pulling the head from the other end of the opening in the rocks. That didn’t seem to work well either, and eventually Jaime had to just yank and tug and pull the feisty critter right outta that tight lair. Even after such a battle, Jaime was surprised at the size of the cabezon. It went better than 8 pounds, which is very large for these fish.
Relating the story at Hook, Line & Sinker, the well-known and exceptionally gregarious Jaime laughed and said, “I call it Mexican noodling.”
Should you wish to be considered for joining in on one of Jaime’s fishing charters, stop by my shops, Hook, Line & Sinker or Guns of Santa Barbara, on Calle Real between Outer State Street and Highway 154, leave your name and contact info, and I or Capt. Tiffany will make sure he gets it. Just understand that you gotta be a very friendly and gracious type to fish with Jaime. Otherwise, he might just stuff you into that recently vacant cabezon lair!
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.