As an avid angler with a bay boat of my own, I’m truly grateful for the ability to get out on the water whenever I have the free time. Amid my routine inshore adventures, I also enjoy fishing offshore and regularly embark on headboats that ferry paying passengers to distant waters. To me, it is always a much-needed three days off the grid when I can focus on fishing.
Another aspect of these trips that I really enjoy is the camaraderie developed with the other anglers. Most of the paying passengers develop lasting friendships, but every now and then there’s an inconsiderate individual who makes things difficult. On my most recent excursion deep into the Gulf of Mexico, this was unfortunately the case.
On the six-hour steam to the grounds, we posted up in the galley, laughing, talking loudly and having a great time talking about stories of pool-winning fish. However, about an hour into the trip, I felt an aggressive tap on my shoulder. I turned around and one of the other anglers was clearly giving me the stink eye. “Can I help you?” I asked. “Yeah, keep it down, kook. No one cares about your old fish. I’m going to be high hook!” Whatever the reason for the unreserved ill will, the man walked away, visibly disgruntled. Stink, as he became known from this point on, was an old curmudgeon who none of the regulars had ever seen before. Despite the unpleasant encounter, we left the old man alone and figured he wouldn’t bother anyone.
Finally, the 100-foot steel ship came to a stop and it was time to start fishing. I took my usual spot near the bow, while Stink had reserved the aft, port corner of the boat. Not long after dropping my first bait to the bottom I was tight to a red grouper. Just minutes later I caught a monster black grouper, then hooked what seemed to be a big blackfin tuna that took me around the entire boat. I was aiming for high hook, but as the fight brought me to the stern there was an obstacle. I politely asked Stink if he could slide over and give me some room. “I’m not moving!” he yelled. Not surprisingly, the fish made a run under the boat. My line parted, but my anger was quickly superseded by nausea when I caught a whiff of Stink…he must have been fishing with rotten squid. After running back to the bow, I noticed that nobody was fishing within 20 feet of Stink because of the horrible odor.
The fishing stayed hot throughout the trip and before I knew it, we were at our last spot. However, Stink’s stench was so bad at this point that neither anglers nor crew dared venture near his corner of the boat. Finally, the captain noticed that his crew wasn’t there to gaff, unhook or ice down any of the fish Stink caught. Enraged, he came down from the wheelhouse to investigate, but nearly gagged in the process.
“What’s that smell?!” questioned the captain who had thought he’d seen it all. “I never leave the rail, and that’s why I’m going to be high hook!” replied Stink as he looked down at his soiled jeans and whipped another snapper over the rail. The captain quickly disappeared, only to emerge again wearing foul weather gear, rubber dishwashing gloves and a protective face shield. In his makeshift HAZMAT suit, the captain grabbed Stink by the ankles and flipped him overboard.
Floating in the middle of the ocean, Stink was hurling obscenities at the skipper and crying about the sharks. With a smirk on his face, the captain replied, “Stop splashing and don’t stress about the sharks. You stink worse than whale sh!t, they want nothing to do with you!”