THE OSA ANGLER: Of Fishes and Dishes
I must preface this article by saying I don't believe I am sexist, but with women now playing almost all professional sports, it has to stop someplace. There is now pro-women’s baseball, basketball, and even my own brother is defensive coordinator for a professional women’s tackle football team in Tampa, Florida. Heck, the best woman boxer in Costa Rica, Katt O’Connell, hails from right here in Puerto Jiménez. There have to be some things that are done only by men. Maybe fishing should be one of them.
The other day a friend of mine called me all excited and told me about his new girlfriend. He had been teaching her how to fish. "She’s rigging baits, ain't afraid of a little fish blood, and even cleans the fish and the boat at the end of the day. She’s a natural," he continued. "whipped a 250 pound marlin on 20 pound test line in less than 30 minutes, and she dresses up the boat right nice in her chartreuse tanga," he bragged, letting a little of his redneck heritage escape.
I thought to myself: ?Am I talking to the luckiest guy on earth, or is this poor fellow cursed?’
He reminded me a lot myself. A person that over the years has collected almost as many "ex’s" as trophy fish. Was it the long days on the water and the cold beers with the clients afterwards that soured the romance?
There was the Italian girl from "Long G'Island", who was a lesson in ethnic culture in herself. She was beautiful, loved the sun, the water, and catching fish. I fell head over heels and wanted to spend every minute of the day with her. The problem was that the good lord didn't teach people from New York, especially Italian females, important requirements for successful angling, like patience and occasionally silence. I think it was my time spent with her that turned me into a lousy listener and time spent with her mother that turned me into a big eater. I’l never forget her words though, when one Christmas Eve as she opened the gift I had gotten her from Victoria’s Secrets. She looked me in the eye and asked what kind of lure we should be using for bait the next day for snook!
I heard from her several years later, when she called me up one day with pride in her voice to let me know she had been teaching her new boyfriend how to fish and he had won a local tournament that they entered together. Next it was the corn-fed farm girl from Ohio that fit perfect on the back of my Harley and could turn a pair of cut-off blue jeans into a work of art. By the time I met her I had become infamous in my area for catching an Atlantic fish called tarpon on artificial lures. Tarpon are big powerful fish with hard bony mouths, making it difficult to keep a hook in them. Experts say the average is landing one tarpon for every ten that are hooked. When one takes a lure, you have to set the hook as hard as you can several times and bow your rod to them when they jump or they will surely escape. I had been fishing for tarpon 30 years and my best to date was 157 pounds.
Well I taught this love of my life to fish during tarpon season on the west coast of Florida. The first fish she ever caught in her life weighed over 100 pounds. In fact that tarpon season she landed 16 out of 17 fish that bit and never set the hook once. She only held on to the rod and screamed. Her largest fish weighed 176 pounds, better than 30 years of effort on my part. This was only the beginning of a nightmare.
As the water cooled and the tarpon moved south we began to fish for other, but much smaller local species. After cutting her teeth on 100 pound fish there wasn't much thrill to these "little guys." Soon I started getting dozens more fishing magazines than I subscribed to in the mail every month. She read them from cover to cover. Later it was a constant battle, "Shouldn't we be fishing over there instead of here and using this for bait instead of that." A day out fishing with the boys for me, forget it. She said she could fish as good as any of them and wanted to go along. Once she even stood up while I was giving a lecture on tarpon fishing to a local club and instructed me of what I should cover in my talk.
That was over a decade ago, and today we are still good friends but thank God she has some other guy as fishing partner in the boat.
Being a slow learner, I repeated this cycle with several women and always the results were similar. Today I have a different theory that works for me. If I meet a girl that interests me, I immediately invite her to go fishing offshore. If she turns green, pukes her brains out and says she’l never do that again I think to myself, this might be the one.
If she says “That was great! When can we do that again?” I don't call her back.
Capt. Todd Staley is a fishing manager at Crocodile Bay Lodge, Puerto Jiménez.
Article courtesy of Captain Todd Staley, Courtesy of El Sol de Osa The Osa Peninsula’s Newspaper