Somewhere in the Med
some time ago, in a Mediterranean Sea almost depleted of fish from an aggressive
professional attitude toward fishing. Here, fishing for the future, are unknown
in a deep reef, VERY far away from coastline, always lashed from a strong and
day was a magical one. Squalls on the coast were promising unsteady weather. A
dark bar on the western horizon stood in confirmation. But at the first light of
dawn the sea is flat as a table, the wind totally missing. It seems all still,
all locked. At the sea, at the sea. This strange kind of weather always stirs up
my fish-lust. Who knows what are fish doing when itís not one of the usual
sun-wavelet-no-wind days? At the sea.
toward the horizon, route very indirect to mislead any observer (not so
hypothetical, since the curiosity aroused from previous catches of Amberjacks of
ďbut then they really existĒ size). Out of view from the coast, with nobody
around, direct route for the reef. Rain pricks in showers the table of the sea.
Still, no wind at all.
submerged reef is edged by the usual fringe of boiling, surging water stirred up
by the current, but today it seems somewhat reduced. I anchor far from the top,
praying that the anchor would not ground, compelling me to dive in the abyss for
slowly put on my wetsuit, concentrating on the pre-respiration, on the
relaxation, trying to slow down my heart rate. All those splendid rituals that
make a philosopher of the keen diver.
in the water. First of all concentrate on breathing, slow, slow, pause, apnea, a
new slow, slow breath. Pause, apnea, last expiration, a forced inhalation. Down!
little bubbles come out from the wetsuit legs, rolling and gurgling. Not a good
bottom time. Every time I have to convince my body that for some time it has to
do without so much oxygen. It knows that later will get used to it, but itís
always necessary some time to explain.
current is weak but itís definitely there. Good, because without current
Amberjacks are more disturbed. Kicking slowly, breathing often with my eyes
closed, relaxing, I arrive on the first of the four points of the Reef. The Sun
is hidden, the sea hardly rippled but I forget all as soon as I recognize the
signals. A white plateau 25-27 m deep, climbing suddenly up until 22-23 m and
falling down first steeply and then gently on sand in 40 m. I accelerate the
breathing. Partly it is not desired. I scan the blue, searching for the tiny
marks of the Amberjacks: round balls of bait fish, even the sound of their
little multiple tails cracking together in an attempt to escape the big predator
if Iím not viewing them.
Suddenly clear, first the white pectoral fins, then the whole shape, stands out
against the Grey-blue bottom. She is motionless, against the current, behind a
needle of rock.
canít avoid it. The heart rate is suddenly, maddeningly, quick. The Amberjack
is beautiful. Elegant. Huge.
breathe, kicking slowly. She has sight me. She turns, swims past the rock and
stops in the blue water. Iím very far from the perpendicular but now Iíve no
choice. A big breath and I dive. Forcedly, first meters are very slow but little
by little I become negative and dive without moving at all. Slow, slow. Oblique.
Sheís still. And sheís watching me. A stroke of the big tail and sheís
farther and deeper. She stops again. I dive without moving, without watching her,
without aiming my gun. The small currents around the point make me twirl a
little. I continue diving. Sheís still motionless. I descend slowly, like a
dead leaf, and Iím watching her big head. I extend my gun when sheís not
watching me, when itís aimed straight on her and she cantís see the movement.
Now that Iím deeper I descend quicker. Sheís moving deeper also. Iím
following her, slowly. Sheís almost within range. Almost. Wait, sheís big.
now I had my eyes slit, now I open my right eye and take aim. Iím all-tight. I
shoot! At the end of the gill plate, high, toward down. Good shoot.
heavy spear almost gets completely trough her huge head. As always it seem to
shoot in a block of hard wood. In the moment of the shot I instinctively
straighten myself and start kicking toward the surface. Now I have five-six
seconds before she can recover from the shot. I stop the reel with my hand and I
climb up as swift as I can, towing her, gaining valuable meters of water. This
canít last, I know. But Iím almost to the surface when she starts pulling
madly. Iím forced to release the reel. Iíve however towed her till
ten-twelve meters. Not bad. I finally reach the surface. I breathe heavily,
blowing in the snorkel, struggling with the fish that seems resolute to pull me
down. I free more line from the reel, kicking madly my fins. I free line when
Iím underwater then I pull again when I can breathe. Itís strange this kind
of angling, all happening underwater. But by now she canít go anywhere.
canít avoid it, she tows me around like a piece of flotsam and all I can do is
keep my grip on the line, doggedly.
minutes of mad rodeo are passed and by now she has dragged me well far from the
reef. All I see under me are the white dancing shafts of the sun in the deep
she starts to tire. She canít pull me anymore underwater. I pull the line
slowly, paying attention to not being enveloped in the line itself, rustling in
the water in the more and more narrow circles sheís describing under my fins.
Sheís almost within my reach. Now I have to pay attention to the last trashing
of the huge tail. I pull her very close without touching the spear, then
suddenly I grasp and embrace her tightly, slipping my right hand inside the gill
plates and holding fast. She almost pulls me out of the water but I still weight,
alas, more than she does and she has no escape. Immediately I grab the knife in
my belt and stab her in the skull. Bedlam! Splashes and sprinkles two meters
high, the tail slaps madly the water, rolling me up around her, pulling me
underwater, shaking me around like a doll. Then she stops.
my boat, now. Slowly, I tow her for the long return way. There I catch her by
the gill plates and with a shout thatís all together joy, effort, and, finally,
a full-throttle Vs slow-danced movement, I pull her aboard. And at last I permit
myself to really watch her. Sheís bright, smooth. I touch the dorsal fin that
vanishes inside the body, the hard keel on the tail. Sheís a wonderful
swimming machine. And sheís BIG. Now that I see her in the boat I realize her
true dimension. The scale will stop at 42 kg.
in that magical day sheíll not be the only one. Other two big solitary
Amberjacks will come aboard before the sunset. Not so big: one of 34 kg and
another one of 20 kg. The total weight was one quintal (for the maximum
precision, 97 kg Ė thereís is always to doubt in a too round figure).
three days later, in a bedlam of unrestrained sea, three more fish, always on
the Amberjacks Reef, always big and solitaire. Not weighting so much but almost.
day, after a unilateral agreement with Poseidon, I left ashore my gun and took
only pictures of the big Amberjacks. Still swimming freely in my personal
Then I left.