Proximity of Breath
Somehow Butch had convinced a local Capt. of an exclusive boat, that he and I were GREAT shark fisherman and that he should let us use his boat to prove it.......He agreed! Cat. Rob is an eternally young, older man. The thought of giving this beautiful boat some good catches behind its name was very appealing to him. And the reason for none at this point was simply because he had no idea on how to fish. We did. WE loaded that boat with some of the finest homemade chum on the face of the earth, or should I say on the face of the oceans. Powerful gear, with self injected confidence, some know how, bait, a nodding captain ... and we were making the run. We had gotten some numbers from some local buddies and figured if we chum the hell out an area with some structure, we were bound to hook up. Those assumptions paned out.
With the same robotic motions of the first charter Capt., I set out the balloons at the suggested depths, had everything in order ... and waited. Along time. What seemed like a real long time! No sharks ... and the doubt was mounting. So much for our first shark charter I thought ... Looking at Butch, I knew he was thinking the same thing.
Sometimes when they hit a balloon rig, it will break the silence of a drift with a gun shot pop. We had three balloons out ... two were still visible and the sound of the line peeling off the 30sw raised the hairs on my neck. The adrenaline was high from first hit jitters and Butch muscled the 150 lber to the boat with Lithuanian might. It was a shark...we were credible ... and continued to be for the next 34 sharks!!!! One of which qualified as a Conn. State record for a blue shark ... over 400 lb. and 14 ft. But all of that bicep bashing action does not clutter my mind from the memory of note ...When I Danced With The Devil, By The Pale Moon Light.
Butch is a tough guy. And so am I. Many times the strain of the ocean and its competitors..250 LB blue sharks, cause the majority of participants to go Nite Nite when some of the most spectacular fishing of the day occurs.
The dead of Night. Butch and I don't sleep ...We fish. And that moonlit night was no different. Thirty feet ... sixty feet ... ninety feet ... Those were are traditional depths, and we marked fish throughout that column. That left us comfortable and the licorice seas barely waved, causing us to struggle to stay awake. To keep active, Butch hay wired another rig and sent that sucker off the side of the boat ... and right to the bottom! We were so tired, neither of us spoke. The calming conditions and exhaustion were breaking our iron man spirits. But to repeat, Butch is a tough guy. And so am I. We made coffee and clicked mugs for a "lets go another round" agreement.
Amidst new chat one of the rods whistled, but only a very little. That is unlike a shark. Their consumption of the bait, is simply that, consumed, hook and all...He must have missed it somehow. I approached the rods in the dim but adequate lighting on the boat. I said I would check it out...Butch was to tired to do anything but watch. The time it takes you read all of this will be far longer than the whole experience, yet try to understand why this moment surpasses all else on a 3 day shark safari. The moonlight allowed me to verify the where abouts of the three balloon rigs and in the same instant I realized the bottom rig was limp....But Why??..I never got a "But why " out again!!
As I stood along side the 30sw , that had limp line, the thought occurred that the shark maybe did eat the bait and was coming up instead of away, simply because the water was so deep at the point of the take. Two feet from me, with torpedic velocity, a five foot mako shark passed by my face with his white under belly so close, that I swear to you, I was in Proximity of Breath !!. The dank rotten stench of butchered prey. Mouth to mouth...pectorals to my arms...proper posture all around, and with the symphony of a rolling ocean, I truly believed, I danced with the devil for that brief instant.
In typical mako fashion, it continued to elevate....back flipped right in front of me. landed on our 80 LB mono, and cut it! Or something happened. I cant honestly tell you what it was. I was frozen in that instant. Incapable of reacting. A chest to chest slow motion dance with one of the worlds great predators.
The purple in the sky signified the beginning of a day that never ended for Butch and I. We tried to tell the sleeping members of this adventure. You really had to be there to understand a moment like that. I feel that we do not remember Days...or Years...we remember Moments. I hope this recreated some drama for you, but They are out there for all of you to grab. Go make some moments!