The rain was pounding down leaving the sea awash in millions of tiny ripples. The water seemingly vibrating with anticipation as the pounding sound of the heavy rain drowned out the low hum of the twin motors idling in neutral. The boat was drifting slowly in the current of the seas around The Hannibal Banks off the coast of Panama. A relative calm before the reel storm.
The day had been an exciting one and the boat had tasted her share of blood, laying below deck in their shallow temporary grave, the catch of the morning, a large Red Snapper, or ‘Pargo’ in these parts, Amberjack, and Dorado lay still.
The rain pounded on.
Captain Shane positioned the boat expertly
“Here Here, look at that mark!”
The sounding equipment on the boat, rating the density of fish below, showed solid black from 70 to 120 feet down –A very good sign!
The boat came alive as rods and reels left their resting places, blue runners bridled on the other end returned to the sea all be it a bit farther from their home they were wrestled from the previous night. It was a routine familiar to all on board, Jeff from Addictive Angler and the mate, Steve free spooled their blue runners down to depth.
Ben from Addictive Angler, who had lost 4 fish that day, stepped up to the bow of the boat hooked with a 200 grain jig. The storm eased up slightly as the the lead jig hit the water and began to sink, 50 feet, 100 feet, 150 feet, then the line slacked as the metal found its home 175 feet down resting on ‘The Hump’
The bale of the shimano stella 10,000 rod clicked over
Ben, feeling a bit dejected from his losses of the day and the good natured ribbing from his crew mates said more to himself then anyone, “I’ll show everyone, I’m going to hook a fucking monster”
One hard jig.
The rain paused almost as to take a deep breath as a familiar sound of the day filled the air, nearly every fisherman’s
favorite sound, a screaming reel. “Fish Fish Fish!” Ben yelled triumphantly as he sunk the hook deep with a quick and hard jerk up on the rod. The fish, not as enthusiastic, swam away hard and fast. Everyone brought in their fish to let the battle begin, the sound of winding lines in the stern of the boat combined with a still screaming line on the bow into a beautiful arrangement of fishing symphony.
Raindrops began to trickle down.
Congratulations and attention was thrown forward as Ben held fast on the bow, hoping for a little extra glory of reeling in a fish from the front of the boat. As the first minutes clicked by and the initial adrenaline rush began to subside a realization slowly began to set in. First, with Ben as he was opposite the business end of the rod followed by the rest of the crew. This wasn’t your average size fish.
The pouring raid returned.
Time slowed in the wave of water from the sky as neither angler or fish seemed keen on giving up anytime soon. The boat rocked gently on the waves, a slow roll, a solo voyager this time of the day on the banks. Ben dropped his bravado and retreated to the stern of the boat as the monster on the other end began to take more and more line, a constant clicking through a tightened down drag. A slow almost poetic pulling that painted a small glimpse of the beast at the other end slowly treading through the water with barley a care to the struggle going on 200 feet above.
The pulse of the storm slowed after an hour of painstaking back and forth that didn’t seem to be wearing on the fish, but was sapping the energy from Ben as his hands, arms, and legs began to tremble with the weight of the fish on the other end. Knowing his limits were rapidly approaching and feeling no give of the sea creature he handed the reins to Jeff for a respite.
The chatter on the boat was a myriad of laughter, jokes, and curse words as the fish seemed to not want to bow to anyone. A wonderment took hold as the minutes continued to creep by. The chart plotter, a normally opaque yellow, now housed lines of red akin to a child on an etch’a'sketch. Jeff expertly and as gently as possible fought on. The size of the fish grew by the minute as everyone began comparing past experiences.
An audience began to appear on the top of the water as other boats drifted in for an afternoon of fishing. Jeff fought on, his slow and methodical pumps occasionally bringing the fish up to 75 feet only to see his effort forfeit as the line was repeatedly taken out time after time, more boats as the clock continued its ever steady climb.
The wind that had been a companion all day vanished as did the rain. The sea calmed. Other boats realizing that this herculean battle would not be over quickly took to their respective courses to find their own fights of the day. Jeff fought on. The chorus of amazement continued to grow as the second hour creeped by. The fish began to assume names of possible species and hated nemesis, Jeff fought on.
“how can it still be going?”
“what the hell is this thing?”
“Its not the bottom thats for sure!”
“you just had to hook a monster huh?”
“it must be huge”
The shock of the fight was setting in, as was the fatigue. Jeff, despite his skill and determination, was beginning to wear.
His hour and a half on the rod had everyone impressed, except the fish. For at least the 30th time that day he sounded back down over 200 feet. Ben, rested and ready, reassumed the rod set to put the pressure down and at least see this beast that had enveloped the afternoon.
“Come on Ben,lets get this fish in the boat” Nancy offered up as moral support.
“Nice and easy” Ben said shallowly as he focused on easing up the beast. It would have none of it.
The rain returned consistent with the force of the fish.
Rain enveloped the vessel once again as Ben’s regained stamina was fading much quicker then his first bout. A fresh set of arms was brought in, Steve. The 3rd angler set his mind and body to the task, with encouragement from all Steve stepped into the fray, but he too was overtaken by the weight of the fish after a time succuming to the power of this monster he passed the reins off to a shortly refreshed Jeff intent on ending this war on the Hannibal Banks.
The mental and physical strain was being felt by all aboard as the 3rd hour of battle rolled close. It would be the last minutes as the rain subsided for the last time that day the rod shot suddenly up! The fish had won. Not without a scar however as a chunk of meat on the end of the hook revealed the painful end to a brutal fight.
The agony of defeat that usually accompanies a lost fish was overran by the awe and majesty of one of the oceans mammoth creatures that beat an array of experienced fisherman and won his freedom for the day. T.O.P Cat altered her course and returned home with her prizes and crew en tow, weary, but fulfilled.
By Ben George