Archive for the ‘Central America’ Category

The Nine Dollar Sting Ray

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Back in late 1975, I was stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  This was a pretty good assignment for a regular military job.  I was lucky and spent most of my 26 years with Uncle Samuel in off the wall jobs out of the mainstream of routine military life.  I did not really enjoy the 5 am Physical Torture (PT) sessions and spending 12 hours a day doing a job that could be done in much less time.  Never-the-less, for a regular military job, it was pretty good with a number of out of the ordinary jobs to keep it fun.  One of these was a three month trip to Panama.  This was before President Carter did the unthinkable and gave up the Canal Zone.  So many stories to tell about such a short period of time.

There was Rock Hunting because of the candy store nature of rocks in this area.  Agates, amethyst crystals, quartz crystals, petrified wood, petrified coral.  The list is really endless.  As a rock hound, I was in heaven!  Also my good friend PSLW and his family were there so that was good.  He and I were in the same unit in Vietnam, then Thailand so it was great to reunite.  The work was really fun and interesting too.  But, the FISHING!!!  We were on the Pacific side of the Ismuths which means we were on the side with great fish.  I fished off the shore and caught some nice fish.  Considering I did not know what I was doing that was great.  I also broke a tip on a borrowed rod.  Very embarrassing.  (You can save yourself some embarrassment by getting an Emmrod fishing system where you are just not going to break the rod tips!  Check them out at www.MyCompactFishing.com )

The crowning joy of the trip was a weekend fishing excursion.  First day was a total bust.  I probably chummed a good part of the journey by giving up what I had eaten the previous couple days.  The fish did not like it either.  But, that night, we hove to at some island getaway.  We had a collective bet.  Whoever caught the biggest fish won all the bucks in the pot.  Frankly the fishing was pretty crummy but about 1030 pm, I got a big strong hit.  For about an hour, I fought this monster fish without having any idea what it was.  Finally, I pulled it into the boat.  It was a beautiful sting ray!  No wonder it was so hard to pull in.  All that wing work!

I called the guy who held the pot.  He grumbled something about it not really being a fish.  It should not count.  Moan, moan moan, grumble, grumble, grumble.  But, finally, he paid me the pot.  With joy I counted it out. NINE BUCKS!  Retirement was near!

Well, 34 years later I still remember that experience with joy.  My only regret was not just letting the ray go.  It was a lot of fun but we had no use for it.  So, that is the moral of the story.  If you ain’t gonna eat it, your buddy ain’t gonna eat it and the poor family down the street ain’t gonna eat it, let it go.

PS.  The next day, we hit a school of “Whahoo.”  For about 2 hours we drove around in circles until we were sated with bringing in these big barracuda like fish.   I think we caught about 20 or so.  These guys were delicious!  Great nice round steaks of white meat that hardly had any fish smell at all. How fun!

If you ever get offered a Central American fishing trip, take it!