Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

2. Kicked a hammerhead shark in the head 'til it stopped thrashing around in the sand, then cut out its jaws with a knife a few hours later.

I was staying at Colin's parents' summer home in Hilton Head in August of 1989. Nightly, we would go out to the beach and fish for whatever the hell would bite.

One night we were catching a lot of saltwater catfish and by 11 pm we'd caught a good dozen of them. The fishing process consisted of wading out in the sea about 100 feet and casting into the darkness. We'd then run back to the beach where we'd stick the butt-end of the rod into a plastic rod-holder that had been stuck, sharp end first into the sand. Then we'd wait for a bite and pull in the be-whiskered fish, one by one. It was loads of fun.

The fishing was so good that Colin and I decided that we should sleep on the beach and fish all night. The only obstacle was Colin's mom. Right about the time when the asking-parents conversation ended, we noticed out of the corners of our eyes that Colin's rod---which had been snuggly placed in the forementioned rod-holder---was now skipping across the sand toward the foamy surf.

We ran pell-mell to the rod and Colin picked it up. Nothing. He looked at me and started to speak when it hit. Something huge was on the other end of the line and was pulling hard. Colin was caught off-guard and he immediately started to crank in the line. It wasn't 30 seconds of this when the line went slack. Whatever was on the other end had snapped it.

My hooks had just been re-baited, and were dangling a few feet away. I asked Colin to walk with me for the 100 feet out into the crashing waves to cast the line. He obliged. Our bare-footed asses walked 100 feet out into waist-deep water to cast the line. Along the way we stepped on what I assume were flounder sleeping on the bottom. After casting the line, we ran like hell back to the beach.

As soon as the line was taut, we waited, focusing on the rod tip, waiting for the beast to get it. But nothing happened. Colin decided that the excitement was over and he should go ask mom if we could sleep on the beach.

5 minutes after he left, something bent the rod hard over, then nothing. I picked it up and set the crank so if something decided to take the line out full on, I wouldn't make the same mistake as Colin by leaving it taut and hence snapping the line. The second I set the crank, the fish pulled the line so fast that I didn't have enough time to move my hand out of the way and the crank spun so fast that my knuckles got caught in the chaos and started to bleed. I watched in awe as the line fed off the reel.

The next 20 minutes were a blur. I had never hooked anything this big and I remember thinking that I must be pulling in a struggling cinder block. It continually seemed like I was losing ground, as every time I brought the line in 20 feet the fish would take it our 22 feet. After a 20-minute fight I felt like I was on the winning side when I saw something splashing in the surf.

I ran over to the thrashing hammerhead and grabbed it by the tail, dragging it up onto the beach where it trashed back and forth, flipping sand all about. I was so high on adrenaline that my only reaction was to kick the animal in the head. I had to put back on my sneaker to do this first, so picture me, frantically trying to get my shoe tied and ready for the Nike-induced killing. Afer a spastic series of kicks it stopped thrashing.

Colin came back to the beach expecting I'd caught a couple more catfish but was in serious surprise when he saw the bounty the sea had brought us.

I slung it over my back and walked back home. On the struggle in, the hammerhead shark had---how should I put it---thrown up its guts. I think that's the only reason I was able actually bring it in. It was half dead.

The whole walk back it bled all over the back of my shorts, its head thunking against the back of my thigh the whole way.

It was dead so there was nothing left to do but toss it back from whence it came. I cut out its jaws as a souvenier and back it went.
You're so feral, LB.
You were a hard core fisherboy
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