Unless you are as dull as Cousin Chuck, you may have noticed that there was no “Brazil Day 2” update. That is because one day out of four on the water is pretty much going to be a disaster, and the odds caught up with me on the 2nd. What was supposed to be a thrilling day of deepwater bottom fishing 50 miles off Rio turned into an epic debacle when the boat, an occasionally maintained prewar model, lost an engine (the good one) some 40 miles out. This left us with a top speed of a modest 6 miles an hour, so you can guess how we spent the rest of the day. Of any interest, I caught one shark, likely a species that annoyed me a few years ago in South Africa.
To add insult to injury, the weather turned against us. The wind whipped up to a solid 30, and we got to fight rough seas the entire way back. I lost my patience, the skipper lost his dignity, and the deckhand lost his breakfast.
But tomorrow is always a new day, and the 3rd broke bright and sunny for our drive to Sepitiba, a huge sheltered bay about 50 miles down the coast from Rio de Janeiro. I have very fond memories here – it is one of the first places I ever fished in Brazil, and it is stunningly beautiful – islands, waterfalls, long white beaches, and plenty of fish.
We were fishing on the “Master Craft,” a comfortable dive boat. Not the fastest, but stable and a very nice fishing platform, under the command of Captain Guilherme Studart and able deckhand Leandro. We worked out way out into the bay, trying islands, rockpiles, channels, and finally ending up at the entrance to the bay, just across from from the beautiful Isla Grande. A species here, a species there, mixed in with plenty of stuff I had caught before, but some lovely fish and a couple of nice groupers in the mix. The new ones before dark –
Brazilian Silverside – No photo. Blame Kisslinger.
Mottled Mojarra – Like a silver Mojarra, but more mottled.
Glasseye – Not to be confused with a Bigeye. Same family. Glassier eye.
Atlantic Bumper – Absolutely everywhere.
Black Margate – Great fighter.
Brazilian Mojarra – This is not a drink.
I have also included some nice grouper photos, a solid ladyfish, and some scenery shots.
And then, pretty much all at the same time, it got dark, it got windy, and things turned weird. It was a nasty, swirling wind, so that no matter where we tried to anchor, we were tossed around like a figure skater at a hockey practice. This also made fishing difficult, and the baits were being swung all over the place and the only thing that seemed to be biting was the dreaded bagre – a small but vicious saltwater catfish that carpets the bottom at night.
It got to be about 11 and I was thinking about turning in for the night. Of course, I was covered with “fishing fluids” – sunscreen, sweat, blood, and bait puree, so the shower on the back of the boat was looking pretty good. And so I rinsed off, wearing exactly what you would expect someone to wear while taking a shower. And just when I got soap in my eyes but before my second chorus of “Besame Mucho,” the Fish Gods struck. The one rig I had left in the water, with a squid on it I presumed had been gnawed off by the bagres, suddenly heaved over with a massive strike. Something big had the bait and was running off line quickly and straight under the boat.
In the fishing business, this is what we call an “awkward moment.” If I found my trunks and returned to a dignified state of dress, I would lose a big fish.
And so it was that I caught a lovely 14 pound stingray while wearing pretty much a pair of Tevas and a smile.
The fight took 5 minutes, the process perhaps delayed by the lack of a fighting belt – a piece of equipment I now appreciate so very much more. Just as I netted the ray and brought it on board, and was hopping around the deck dodging the thrashing fish and trying to put my shorts back on, Guilherme and Leandro appeared from the cabin, polite, a tad uncomfortable, but not unamused. It is not clear if they saw the entire debacle, and I did not pursue the issue. I don’t want to know. I mean – what would Ernest Hemingway say?
I had time to get dressed again
Interestingly, the stingray turned about to be something of a rare one – the recently-discovered “W-Mouth Stingray.” (Dasyatis hypostigma – look it up.) It was also plenty large enough to be a world record. And so the night has to be put down as something of a success, even if the crew wanted to put their eyes out with a fork. And it may have been just me, but the stereo seemed to be playing an awful lot of Ricky Martin songs the rest of the trip.
That’s 7 new species, one possible world record. There are now 31 to go to reach 1000.
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The sun sets on my dignity