People Catching Fish, Part II
Today is Sunday, holiday routine, and 17 days left aboard USS HALYBURTON. I am going to miss her. They say that two best ships in the Navy are USS LAST SHIP and USS NEXT SHIP, and I tend to agree with that. I’ve been fortunate to have served on three ships so far with Captains who range from excellent to at-least-they-don’t-throw-chairs-at-me, all with excellent crews, fun-loving wardrooms and generally terrific places to serve.
Occasionally, when tasking is light or during holiday routine days like today, we’ll stop or slow to bare steerage way so that we can maintain a position while waiting for a suspect vessel to show up, conserve fuel and go fishing.
We’ve caught a couple of whoppers, too, but haven’t gotten them up on deck. Finally, while I was on watch a couple weeks ago, we got word to the bridge to execute preplanned responses for a fish on the line and stop the ship. One of our chief petty officers got a sailfish up on deck.
I haven’t been fishing off the stern, but it’s pretty cool to watch the guys amuse themselves catching these monsters in the middle of the Pacific, or pulling catfish and red snapper up out of water in Panama at the southern mouth of the Canal. I did go on a fishing trip in Panama to a part of Lake Gatun, however. That’s the lake in the middle of the Panama Canal that used to be a valley until it was dammed up to become part of the Canal. Even though it was almost a hundred years ago, there are still the remains of old trees sticking up out of the water. Some of them were cut off, but now they’re stumps about a foot under the surface just waiting for an unsuspecting motor boat. We hit more than a few as we navigated the arm of the Lake that we were on.
The peacock bass are plentiful there. We caught a whole cooler full of them, most only a couple of pounds or smaller, but there’s no size limit, so the guide just told us to keep everything. There’s also tarpin in there, along with some jellyfish and other wonderful critters. I decided against swimming for that reason, but Jimbo was not so worried about it when he went on the trip the next day.
The trip was terrific. The first one I caught was pretty small, but I did end up catching the big fish, about six pounds (the one sitting on top in the cooler above). There were just the three of us (one of my hull technicians and one of my oil kings signed up as well), one of whom had never been fishing in his life. It was cool watching him have a blast catching fish for the fist time ever, baiting hooks and everything; definitely a manly day. On top of spending the morning catching about 40 pounds of fish, when we got back, there’s a little restaurant where they will clean and cook the fish for you, served up with limes and fried plantains. I got a heckuva sunburn from the waist up, but the itching has, for the most part subsided at this point.
And now for something , an update on the 500 Miles Club, I’m poised to meet my goal, with 13 usable days left I have 428.5 miles down and 71.5 miles to go. I think our scale here is filthy liar, but according to it, I’ve dropped about 15 pounds. That’s nice. I’m hoping to keep the routine up after I leave. I get about two weeks at home before going to Virgina for school for about six weeks. Then it’s Christmas and another deployment.
More later, Internet cooperation allowing.
People Catching Fish
500 Mile Club