I’m guessing your patience with my fishing stories is wearing thin, so I’ll boil yesterday afternoon’s trip right down. I caught one striper, and Kevin and Bob both caught two (their limit), and then some (which they released). By a fluke, Bob also caught a fluke.
The huge fish that I fought for a good five minutes, and brought right up to the boat, escaped when the knot I had tied, attaching hook to leader, came unknotted just as Kevin was reaching into the fish’s mouth to bring it aboard. He actually touched my fish, the one that got away, and estimated it at forty inches. Losing it just about killed me, and I will tie better knots in future.
That was the only bad part. The good parts were a beautiful evening, a sunset over Barnstable Harbor, hit after hit as fish went for our live-lined mackerel, and, at the end of the evening, a massive striped bass top-feeding frenzy that attracted all boats from miles around (and had everyone emptying their tackle boxes trying to figure out what they’d bite on).
But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. I’m here to tell you that I have come up with a brilliant fishing innovation. An innovation that saves resources and money. An innovation that I predict will become standard practice among fisherman, once they read about it here, on Starving off the Land. Perhaps they will even name it after me. The Haspel Method.
The problem it solves is the problem of ice. When you go out fishing, you always have to bring it. Quite a bit of it, usually. You put bags of it in the cooler and head out. If you catch no fish, you don’t open the bags. Sometimes, on those fishless days, you can put the ice back in the freezer when you get home. Sometimes it’s too melted to be recoverable.
If you do catch a fish, you open the bags. Sometimes, you end up using twenty pounds of ice to ice down the 14-inch schoolie bluefish that proved to be your only catch of the day. It’s only the multi-fish trips that feel like they aren’t a grand waste of ice.
Last year, we tried to keep ice on hand at all times, but there were inevitably days when we forgot to replenish our supply and had to pay top dollar for ten pounds at the only store that’s open at five in the morning. I didn’t keep track of how much we spent on ice over the course of the season, but I’m guessing it was into three figures.
Not this year, though.
This year, I bought about forty of those little eight-ounce bottles of water, and we keep them in the basement freezer. We dump them in the cooler when we go out, and just add a little seawater when we catch our first fish. The fish cool down beautifully, and we re-freeze the bottles when we get home.
As a bonus, we always have an emergency supply of fresh water on the boat.
Okay, I realize I’m probably not the first fisherman to do this. I didn’t Google it because I didn’t want to know just how many people have done it before. I don’t need to be told that it’s already named after someone else – the Schneiderman Method, or the MacGregor Technique. And if you’ve been doing it for years, you can just smile smugly as you refrain from lording it over me in the comments.
For my part, I plan to live out my life believing I have made a significant contribution to the sport of fishing.