I won’t say where this story actually happened, just in case the statute of limitations has not yet run its course.
When I cruise on other people’s boats, I usually pack what we in Florida call a Cuban reel. It’s really just a well-designed, circular hand line for fishing. I bring a couple good trolling lures, too. As kids on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, we called them drop lines and caught lots of flounder using them with squid for bait. Cruising, I’ve trolled without a rod numerous times, catching bluefish, jacks, yellowfin tuna, many dorado and one—very much unwanted—sailfish.
So, back to my story. We’re down island, underway in deep water, and the chart indicates that we are about to pass over Kingfish Bank. Hmmm … never caught one of those before. I fetch the reel from my duffel, attach a lure and steel leader, and pay out the line. We’re cruising at about 6.5 knots, which is pretty good trolling speed. Within a half hour, we have a 30-inch kingfish on the fantail. I clean it and slice it into three-quarter-inch steaks.
I know this fish is going to end up on the grill, but, never having cooked one before, I use my cellphone to call a fish expert friend back in Florida. Except he’s not in Florida; he’s actually in Alaska and also fishing. (Boy, what a world!) He says to slice the fish into steaks, which I have already done, and then slather both sides with mayo and grill over red-hot coals for a couple minutes on each side.
Kings are an oily fish, so I have my doubts, but the meal is a triumph. The taste reminds me of swordfish, but with a flakier texture.
I didn’t think about it in the moment, but after the fact, I learned that we did not have a fishing permit. Unlike in the Bahamas, this particular jurisdiction does not include fishing in its cruising permits.
I’ll make it right, I think. I’ll buy a fishing permit after the fact.
I don’t do that, though, and here’s why: First, you must register your boat with the authorities for $50. Then, you pay an additional $65 for each individual on the boat. With four of us aboard, the grand total would have been $310, which is about $45 for each pound of fish. The local supermarket happens to be having a sale on frozen kingfish steaks; 1-pound bags are $3.99 each.
Nope. I shall remain a fugitive from justice, thank you.
True, the fishing permit would have been good for a month, but we are just passing through. Really, (unnamed island government), you couldn’t include a couple fish in the price of a cruising permit? You surely realize that transient boaters such as us are going to be eating at restaurants much of the time anyway.
If you’ve heard somewhere that it’s bad luck to bring bananas fishing (as in: you won’t catch anything) then be informed that we were able to hook our king despite having four bananas in plain view on a galley counter. The universe could not have missed the fact any more than it could have missed the color of my shirt.