I stand at the back of the Premier trying to get my line in quickly as the ship stops over a school of fish. Porpoising seals struggle in the swell to catch up with the boat to get their cut of the anchovies. Seagulls hover in the air, then dive down to steal bait. The deckhand stands on the fish tank tossing flying anchovies dripping with salt water for chum over my head.
My anchovy gently tugs the line as it drifts from the back of the boat. The line starts running. I flip the lever to unset the spool release. Tighten the line and set the hook with a quick yank upward on the rod. The fish is running and the tip of the pole is pointing straight down, the telltale sign of a yellow tail. I start working the line reeling up, keeping the tip of the pole up. Already, my forearms are tightening. I have to work my way from the end of the boat around the corner on the port side ducking under some poles and lines as I move.
The fish runs again. I wait.
I reposition the rod handle into my hip for some better leverage and put my foot up against the bottom rail. I reel down and pull up, reel down and pull up, reel down and pull up. Someone tells me they can see the fish. I work my further up the side of the boat. I feel the burn in my forearms and hope I can get the fish on board soon before it becomes a seal snack. It runs again. The captain says he will tire and come up soon. The captain gaffs the yellowtail and pulls the first yellow tail of the day on board that turns out to be the jackpot winner. I get several fish, er(??) fist bumps and high fives.
I raise my fifteen pound trophy for a quick picture, shake out the lactic acid in my wrists (is it even possible?) and remove my pullover as the overcast sky suddenly seems a bit warmer than it was fifteen minutes ago. The fish is a fine birthday present.