of little boats and big fish
"One late afternoon while we were out fishing I felt a strong tug on the line which I was hand-jigging, and then a stronger tug, until I was pulled to the side of Hans’ zodiac and realized I had caught me a lunker. It was a gargantuan effort to reposition myself and drag whatever leviathan had chanced to nibble upon my lure up from the depths, but eventually up came a mammoth halibut- mammoth to me, though not all that huge as these type of fish go, but a gigantic one and a great struggle to reel in on a hand-line- about one-hundred and fifty pounds. The moment Hans saw the denizen of the deep come near to the surface a burst of approval and delight escaped him and quickly he had his gaff in hand and when I had wrestled the beast nearly to the boat Hans lunged down and hooked it and with the titanic force of which he was surprisingly capable for a pint-sized man, and the supremely skilled fisherman he had become from a decade and a half of foraging on the coast, he hauled the catch into the boat and before it had a chance to thrash-about he had beaten it senseless with a hammer.
It was a victory to be sure, but one that was not long lived. On pulling in the whale, our Ahab had dragged the lure across a main tube of the zodiac, opening up a giant sucking-chest-wound which was emptying that side of the boat in deep exhalations of precious air. With no time to patch the fissure we placed a sodden piece of tape over the gash, held it there by hand as best we could, hooked the foot pump up to the valve, and Hans jumped on the wheel and headed for shore while I pumped feverishly attempting to replace the precious air as quickly as it was leaving. When I was exhausted we switched places and I took over the wheel while Hans pumped away wildly, and then we changed again, and again, and finally Poseidon had also had his chunk of flesh and was appeased with our ridiculous efforts and we made it back to shore, hung the prized halibut up by the tail and lived off of the fresh game for the next many days until the meat was about to turn, whereupon we dried the rest.
Little boats and big fish are a dangerous mix. I recall being up in Alaska, where I was working as a kayak guide one summer, and standing in the museum in Sitka, in absolute awe as I inspected a traditional Aleutian seal-skin, bone, and driftwood kayak (there are no trees on the Aleutians, so the builder’s task was further burdened by being dependent on another world’s jetsam), and a sealskin dry-suit, and I could hardly imagine an intrepid Inuit hunter out on the tempestuous sea in this precarious contraption, harpoon in hand, waiting bravely for the whale to resurface. Good God, a whale! Taken in this jury-rigged mish-mash of found objects and imponderable rigging. I was set aback, for I realized right then that all true heroism had long ago vanished from our world.
There is not a man alive on this earth today who could take a whale with a harpoon from a kayak. Not one. Compared to the hunters of old, we are all faint-hearted, lily-livered, pitiful excuses for the gender. All the men are gone from earth and only little boys with toy guns and wet dreams remain. ..."
What the critics have said about Jack Haas' books:
"...very strongly recommended reading..." Midwest Book Review
"The Kerouac of the new millennium." Frank Wolf (author of Blind Bay)
"...inspires us to rediscover the mystery of ourselves..." Judine Slaughter (Express Yourself Books)
"...Read in awe." Benjamin Tucker (author of Roadeye)
"...groundbreaking..." Joanne Turner (The Messenger)
"...an embarrassment of riches..." George Fisk (author of A New Sense of Destiny)
"...poetic and stunning..." Nancy Jackson (Dog-Eared Book Reviews)
Books by Jack Haas
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