Wednesday, April 23, 1997
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico --
With a full tank of gas we pointed the little 14-foot white, aluminum boat towards Mazatlan, opened her up and watched as the shoreline of Los Frailes got smaller and smaller and longer and longer. I kept thinking about the rumored Frenchman, who, upon hooking a small marlin in these same waters, was towed 25 miles out to sea, stubbornly refusing to give it up. Fortunately for him, as the story goes, he came upon a yacht, was invited aboard where he continued the fight, eventually landing it. Don’t know if he ate it or what. Today I was prepared to put myself in position of having to rely on a passing yacht.
Then we caught fish.
Bingo bango. Two of them. Double hook-up. Black skipjacks. Barriletes. Little guys. Foot and a half long. Look like little tunas. Fight like tuna, powerful strike, boring down, down, displaying a distinctive low-frequency head shake about half-way up. Two fish on the line. Two fish in the net.
According to Neil Kelly and Gene Kira in their Baja Catch, Black skipjack is gruesome table fare; even Gene, who will usually eat any seafood in his path, refuses seconds on this one. They suggest trying to trick the cat into eating it. Then again, the Fishes of the Pacific Coast by Gar Goodson rates the eatin’ as "good." I figure any fish that’s "good" cooked at home is going to be "great" cooked over a campfire.
Fresh barrilete fried in olive oil, butter and garlic, onions, yellow peppers, a bit of dry white wine, sautéed mushrooms, over a bed of basmati rice. An iced bottle of vino blanco. An after-dinner dark rum. A couple Havana cigars. The comet Hale-Bopp filling up the immense northwest sky. According to Kohlsaat’s, Fishing As A Lifestyle, "Barritlete: it doesn’t get any better."