Eau de Calamari
We had put in at the Sandy Point Marina and made it to the mouth of the Magothy River just as the martini fleet was sailing home. It was a warm evening with just enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes off. We had bought a dozen bloodworms, which was a waste because white perch and spot, which wasn’t what we were fishing for, made quick work of them no matter how small we cut them into pieces. We kept the largest and used some smaller ones whole for bait, which produced nothing. Wanting to get on the water before dark we hadn’t taken the time to locate minnows which is what I think we really needed. The only other bait we had was squid from my freezer, Squid- calamari to some- is odd. Either it’s good, solid, and white or it’s bad, nothing in between. It’s changing of states can happen in a nanosecond. Your bait thereafter becomes something more appropriate for fishing in a sewer. We fished with it in its Jekyll state for a couple of hours, catching a couple of flounders and a trout. But the next time we opened the cooler, Mr. Hyde was waiting for us. It was the only cooler we had on board, the only ice. We had eaten our sandwiches before then, but the rest of the beer was therein. Every opening of the cooler let a waft of foul putrefaction into the air and up our noses.
By now it was approaching midnight. To avoid the odor we were cutting spot into filets and baiting with strips. We caught only another flounder for a couple of hours. We were getting bites, but nothing substantial. Crabs were stealing most of our bait. Then we ran out of spot.
Back in those days I could say that I always caught fish. That was because I would stay on the water until I caught fish. And I enhanced my odds by fishing with three to five rods at once. Tymie was fishing with two. This was one of the reasons our bait situation was not good. We still had a lot of squid left so we decided to bite the bullet and fish on with that until we just couldn’t stand it any more. We couldn’t even rinse the stink off our hands and, of course, we had no soap. The smell was on our selves, our clothes, the rods and reels, practically everything on board. It was almost enough to make us quit drinking beer. Almost enough to make us puke. And by now the air had become still. Only the thrill of catching fish could mitigate the predicament.
Finally, I said, “Tymie, we’ve got to chuck that shit overboard and go home.”
“Why, are you tired?”
“No. It’s the smell.”
“It’s pretty bad.”
“Let’s do it, huh?”
“Let’s give it another hour. I know we’re going to catch some trout. That’s why we came out.”
“How can you stand it?”
“I can stand it if you can. An hour?”
We fished that hour and caught no fish. We had been pulling up some nice crabs which we netted and kept, so, with the trout and three flounder, the night hadn’t been a complete waste.
“Fifteen more minutes,” Tymie pleaded.
“Alright, but then that’s it if we don’t catch anything. OK?”
We got not one bite.
“OK, let’s bait up for the last time then over the side it goes.” We did that and then I threw the rotten squid away.
Sipping at our beers, we shrugged in disappointment.
Then pandemonium. There was a strike on every rod at once. I had two rods in my hands and my feet on three rod butts to keep them from being pulled overboard. These were heavy fish, very eager to be somewhere else in a hurry. Tymie had his hands full and couldn’t help me. It was all I could do to reel in one rod while keeping the others bundled with my free arm and legs. The lines were getting snarled. It was a big mess. I finally boated my first fish, a double header: two trout, one on each hook. I didn’t bother to unhook them as I reeled in the next rod. Another double header. We’d hit a school of trout and they weren’t small ones. By now Tymie had landed his fish: the same yield on both. He began helping me bring in another rod.
When the flurry was over, we had thirteen trout, exactly enough to fill the cooler once we’d taken the beer out.
Tymie didn’t say a thing. He didn’t have to, but his unspoken thoughts were hanging in the air like eau de calamari.
We were out of bait.
“What’ll we do for an encore?” he did say.
®Copyright 2014 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.