Old man and the sea
In my post last Saturday titled House of Sand and Fog, I described how I lost a bunch of images I had shot on our Wednesday afternoon at the coast. Well, I wasn’t the only one dealing with serious disappointment that day. The Big Guy, fishing with a brand new heavy surf rod and coping with pain from a torn rotator cuff, managed to hook into something really big off the south side of a rocky shelf where big waves burst into the air like fireworks every few minutes.
Was it a giant rockfish or maybe a lingcod? It’s impossible to say, but whatever it was, that fish managed to snap the fishing rod at the halfway point. The Big Guy effected repairs by wrapping thick fishing line and tape around the break — but by the time he’d finished, the big fish was gone.
I actually took a picture of the on-site emergency rod repair… but that was one of the images I accidentally deleted.
So when we returned, despite the fog, to the same spot the next afternoon the Big Guy had little choice but to struggle against the frigid onshore breeze and rough surf with a lighter fishing rod. We spent roughly an hour and a half at the spot on Thursday, and he swears he took only about four casts in that time.
But while I became engrossed in pointing my camera at the surf (trying to replace my lost images from the day before), I had no idea that behind me the Big Guy was engaged in a long, lonely battle with yet another fish, this time on the north side of the rocky ledge. Every time he was sure he was winning, the fish would snag the line among the rocks. Then he would shift his position, let out some line and keep fighting, refusing to let the fish outsmart him. He also had a small audience — a young couple from Germany who stayed to watch the contest and to congratulate the Big Guy when he eventually managed to pull a gorgeous cabezon up onto the rocks and away from the churning water.
Cabezon, also known as marbled sculpin, can apparently grow as big as 25 pounds; this one was closer to three pounds, but a perfect size to prepare for dinner. It’s always impressive to see their large heads, brown to purplish body coloring, and blue flesh. In all the years I’ve been watching the Big Guy catch ocean fish from the shore, the perch I’ve seen all seem to blend together, but the cabezones are something special.