The Best Eating Fish.

We have been anchored at Conception Island for several days now. A amazingly beautiful place. An uninhabited island, it is part of the Bahamian National Park system. It is actually a cluster of small islands on top of a large and extensive reef system. The park covers all of the land and the water out to 100 fathoms deep. Both above and below the water it is a very beautiful place.

For the past two days we have weighed anchor, and headed out to do some fishing. The local waters teem with a type of red snapper. It isn’t large, about a pound or two. But it is very common and eager to bite the small pieces of squid I drop down to them. To the point that if I don’t come up with three at a time I am disappointed. There are so many of them and they are so eager for food, that I feel the “tap-tap-tap” of them attacking my baits as soon as they hit the bottom. They don’t put up much of a struggle, it’s not exactly a sporting effort. This is “meat fishing.” What they lack in strength, they more than make up for with their table presence. They are the sweetest, most delicately flavored fish we have ever eaten.

There is one teeny, tiny little issue with catching them however…

They live a bit deep. OK, more than a bit. We are catching them in 700 to 1000 feet of water. Yes, you read that right. A fifth of a mile down. That’s a LOT of cranking to bring them up to the top. The three pound sinker I use to get down to them takes a full five minutes to reach the bottom. At those depths it is always pitch black, and very cold.

In addition to the complexity of the depth, there is competition! On one side of the island, as soon as we stopped the boat, the sharks gathered around. They knew what we were there for. In fact one of the sharks is already tangled in a “deep drop” rig just like I am using. In this spot with four drops to the bottom, way, way, way down there, I get one set of three fish into the boat intact. The sharks steal the others, and twice get hooked themselves in the process. They aren’t huge as sharks go, maybe five feet long, but they have teeth I don’t want to deal with. We manage to break them off at the boatside and send them on their way.

In spite of the sharks, in two days of fishing, we have added a fortnight’s worth of dinners to the freezer—and my arm is really, really tired from all the cranking.

We’ll have pictures in a few days when we get back to the “civilized” world with an internet connection.

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