Last month, my brother, father and I joined 30 other men to venture to the coast of Panama in search of the elusive blue and black marlins. Promised to be a fisherman’s dream, the trip did not disappoint (well, minus the first day):
Day 1: Better Fisher of Men
Nothing to report as we trolled for 9 hours and saw nothing. Well that’s not true, we did catch 9 bonitas as bait fish which were bigger fish than any other fish I had ever caught prior.
Coming back to the dock we were regaled with tales of all the other fishermen’s great catches. Though I did come back to receive this image from worship at Waypoint Community Church, which helped me see that perhaps I am a better fisher of men than fish.
Day 2: Redemption
Having returned empty the day before, I discovered that exaltation results from being humbled.
I hooked up a Mahi (Dorado down there) and got to bring it in. As it ran up alongside the boat, I was struck by how tiring it was to catch this smaller fish was and wondered what it would be like to catch the bigger billfish.
Later in the day, I was able to fight in this beautiful sailfish.
And Bill caught his blue marlin.
At 2:45pm (3:00 rods out) I hooked up a large black marlin, and just as I was settling in, he jumped and threw the line. So emblazoned into my memory was the 400lb+ black marlin that got away. I was so close to completing the mission.
Day 3: Brothers@Sea
Shipping our father off to another boat, the Barry boys took to the ocean. Early in the day we had a marlin trail our bait, and watched as other sailfish did not take the bait. Quickly el Nino was becoming blamed for the slower week than “last week,” which like all “lasts weeks” was unbelievable. By the end of the week, though, our group caught 108 sailfish and 46 marlin, so all in all a pretty spectacular outing.
By the end of the day, the Barry boys helped with those totals by catching 2 sailfish.
I would love to show you a GoPro video of my fight, but it seems someone pointed the camera at himself the entire time instead.
Day 4: The Catch
Turning onto the backside of the trip and still not having caught my marlin, the pressure was starting to mount. Thankfully, on this day, I hooked up a blue marlin that put up a good fight to the boat. Then after the leader was touched, he ran out again. I had learned the night before that the mates would not cut the line as it would be bad luck so I set back into catching this fish a second time. With two fights in me by 11am, I was spent for the rest of the day–and enjoyed the pleasant calmness that comes when a mission has been accomplished.
Thankfully, I had forgotten the pin to my GoPro but figured out a way to lash it together so I could shove it underwater to see this 300lb fish.
However, as I waited on the dock to bask in my glorious catch my brother and father could not be found. Slowly, my brother’s boat limped in on one engine, but my father was still MIA.
Finally, in rolled his boat. However, when they jumped off–they did not regale us with stories of the caught fish. Rather they talked about this tale:
That morning one of the smaller boats decided to venture 17 miles off sea to a spot that no one had fished in weeks. When they arrived at that spot they came across 5 Panamanians who had been fishing for a week from their village. They had no radio, one life jacket, and one life ring when their boat capsized at 4am that morning leaving them stranded. At just the right time, 7 hours later, my father’s boat was radioed out and plucked these five men out of the water. However, an hour later, a third boat went out to survey the wreckage and could only find the white plastic water jugs. The boat had sunk. The men were rescued.
Unfortunately for Pops, the rules committee confirmed that there were no points for rescuing men.
Day 5: The Calm
Having caught a marlin and some sailfish, the mission was accomplished. Plus getting the next Sunday’s sermon illustration (see above!) out of the way made this day’s fishing calm.
Snagged another Dorado; my boat mates pulled in some sail fish. I did have a sail on the line that got cut by a pod of porpoises.
This was a catch from another boat.
Day 6: The Ballyhoo
Once again, the Barrys united…once again…we talked a lot..fished a little. Bill reeled in a sailfish early in the morning. And though others claimed they witnessed our 70 year-old father bring in some sailfish, we never saw him let go his cigar and pick up a rod the entire trip. But that was because he was invested in making sure Bill and I got to experience the joy of fishing.
Of course, at the final dinner, my brother claimed his blue marlin was 301lbs…not like we are competitive or anything…just another reason to get out there again to get the one that got away.
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