Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 2:40 am | Fair 39º


David Bacon


Captain’s Log: Nuclear Subs, Mystery Fish and Tough Nuts to Crack

What I love about fishing in the ocean is that when you put your line in the water, you never can quite tell what might happen. I’ve got stories.

A strapping young man stood on the deck fn my charter boat, WaveWalker, watching in wide-eyed wonder as his reel’s drag system screamed and squealed while his heavy-duty fishing line diminished rapidly.

Before he was completely spooled, I told him he was going to have to button down the drag and pull on that fish. He did and it became a mano-a-mano battle of human powerhouse against unknown powerhouse.

The rod was bent double, the reel was hot, and beads of sweat stood out on the man’s forehead. We live for this stuff!

The line busted off with a sound like a center-fire rifle. A moment later the man stood with the twisted, busted-off end of his line in his hand, looking back and forth between it and me.

I smiled and softly said, “Nuclear sub, no doubt!”

One time decades ago, I was fishing alone in a small aluminum skiff not far from the Santa Barbara Harbor when something picked up my bait and began swimming away powerfully.

I worked that critter, bending my rod deeply and tightening the drag as much as the line could take.

I realized that the critter was towing my skiff — I couldn’t reel it to me. The best I could do was reel the boat closer. It never came to the surface, so I knew it was a fish.

I pulled on that critter and made him give me a Nantucket sleigh ride.

It headed for the deep sea and I hung on tightly, gauging how much fuel I had in my little carry-on fuel tank.

When I knew that getting back was becoming questionable and considering that the seas were building too high offshore for my little skiff, I made the tough decision to bust off the line and give all due credit to a powerful adversary that might have fed my family for a week.

Of course, it may have been a nuclear sub!

Yes, putting a line in the ocean is maybe a little like that proverbial box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.

While sitting and waiting for a fish to hook up, I get to thinking of such things on both a narrower scale and a larger scale.

Today, while shark fishing and waiting patiently, I thought about America, which I see as a bowl of mixed nuts, the imported nuts piled in on top of the indigenous nuts and all together we have proven to be one tough nut to crack.

There is always room in America for more nuts!

— 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.

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