Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Big One That Got Away

We had hooked a big one. A large halibut, maybe 80 pounds or more. The fishing rod seemed to almost bend in half while I leaned back and held on with both hands, the butt of the rod digging painfully into my waistline.

“Let it run. Let it run.” Shouted Keith, our fishing guide. I let go of the reel handle … too slowly.  It rapped my knuckles as if punishing me for holding back the catch that was swimming away for its life. After less than a minute or two the line went slack as if the fish was resting or hesitating, wondering which way to go to shake off the hook I hoped was buried in its mouth.

My legs and arms were already stiff. But I needed to reel the line onto the spool, taking advantage of the momentary indecision on the part of my quarry. I was constantly at the ready to release my grip on the reel handle if my prize catch decided to make a run for it again.

While it had only been a few minutes, I was exhausted. The Parkinson’s-induced stiffness resulted in my tremors moving into overdrive. I was worried I would lose the fish, while at the same time I wanted to prove I could land a trophy despite the limitations imposed on me by my Parkinson’s disease. But discretion won over my ego and I called for my friend, Jim, to take over the rod.

No sooner had the handoff taken place than the reel started spinning, the line whining off the spool as it played out, quickly approaching its limit of 300 feet. “That’s no halibut”, shouted Keith as he got his knife out to cut the line before the rod and reel were yanked from Jim’s grip and dragged into the ocean. We all felt the defeat as the knife sliced through the tense 80-pound test fishing line, leaving the lure and hook embedded as a souvenir in the mouth of the one that got away, whatever it was.

We all stared astern, looking rather woeful when Keith raised his arm.  He was pointing at a large black head that had popped to the ocean surface some 200 feet away. It was a sea lion. Doubtless, it had sunk its teeth into our trophy halibut, dragging “our lunch”, the hook and all the line we had, finishing it off outside the reach of our puny rod and reel.

While we resented losing the battle, we had to admit that we were the intruders, and that the natural hunter had made the catch. Acknowledging defeat is a humbling exercise, but it is, whether facing Parkinson’s disease or some other dominating opponent, one we must accept with the right attitude. Tomorrow, we will fight again.

No comments:

Post a Comment