There once was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

Remember this kid’s book?

I still work for the National Institutes of Health, and just found this wonderful website for kids by NIEHS (Environmental Health Services) when looking for the lyrics for this song. It has talking points to parents for healthy eating and such.  I was singing it when…

How to make an old lady attractive

On the way from Panama City, Panama to Isla Contadora, the main tourist island in the island chain of Las Perlas, I set up our now de rigueur trolling spread.  Makeup artist:  Keith, at; he has been a steady advisor over the past few years.  Enjoy’s trolling spread consists of two squid daisy chains on each sugar scoop, set 25′ and 35′ back respectively.  One pink, and one natural colored, both teasers splish splash sweetly to attract fish to notice our boat. In the center of Enjoy, set 10′ back reigns Lulu, a bonito painted wooden bowling pin teaser that really looks authentic as she spashes hither and yonder. These artificual teasures are to peak the interest of fish down below to come see what Enjoy really has to offer.  So far, no fish have bitten them; they don’t have hooks and are for show only.

On each sugar scoop, tower our trusty trolling rods.  Currenly, my vintage 1970’s Fenwick rod recently lovingly restored (see more here), and a tried and true Penn Senator combo from West Marine.  I recently broke out the Shimano Tallus/TLD 50 combo yet, after giving up trying to splice 65 lb hollow core braid fishing line in order to top shot it with 80 lb monofiliment. Ultimately, I set it up following Matt Watson’s video on, and used a Bob Sands knot to connect the braid to mono, plaited a double topshot with a San Diego Jam knot to the Eagle Claw barrel swivel to safety clip I purchased at

She swallowed two black skipjacks

Just say’in, one lure made it all happen.  A bullet head blue feather trolling got Most Valued Player!  It out performed the Mary Jane of trolling lures, trusty cedar plugs, 2x to 0 as well as the fancy schmancy Yo-zuri Hydro Magnum who frankly, I thought was bat sh*&T crazy and didn’t trust her, but now realize, she just wasn’t in a supportive environment. Remove the bad steel leader, add a double crimped 100 lb leader, some home made salted bait, and she performs spectacularly.

So, Day 1, we caught two black skipjacks, a 4 lb and 5 lb. 

  • Day 1: Sushi rolls (I realize I forgot to buy wasabi!)
  • Day 2: Sauteed with bock choi and left over sushi rice supplemented by basmati
  • Day 3+: Because the flesh is somewhat oily but still good, and the rest became frozen fish steaks to be cooked with Baba’s Fish Curry (again, another good story but I digress). 

Uping the ante with salted baits

My fishing bible, Cruisers Handbook to Fishing, instructed me how to salt my own bait.  So, with the left over pieces and skin from Don’s most excellent processing work, I salted strips of bait for 24 hours in the fridge and the less edible parts of those black skipjacks became bait! 

Who do you trust?

On the way to Isla Viveros from Isla Contadora, it just wasn’t happening!  I tried two different colored cedar plugs, a green yellow skirted squid, even gave crazy; Yo-zuri a chance at it, and then went back to you-know-who, my blue feather boa after an hour of swapping lures.

She swallowed the skipjack that wiggled and jiggled inside her

When I set up that blue feather with a fresh out of the fridge home made salted bait, I figured it would be a while so I made myself a nice sandwich only to hear the lovely sound of my line speeding off the reel.  I know my priorities. 

Sandwich dropped, Don slowing the engine down, I get into place and tighten up on the star drag to slow the run away line.  Don comes over to move the adjacent teaser out of the way, so my line doesn’t snag it, we pull out the big fishing net (yes got it used at a sailor swap meet), and put the kill bucket near at the ready. 

What’s in the kill bucket?

  1. pliers to pull out the hook
  2. gloves, his and hers
  3. ice pick for quickly killing the fish
  4. 300 lb mono for Iki jimi method to stop central nervous system toxin release.  There are research studies on this, it’s a thing!
  5. slime knife
  6. filleting knife
  7. butcher knife
  8. descaler tool
  9. cutting board

The spanish mackerel, that swallowed the skipjack, that swallowed the feather, that wiggled and jiggled inside her

Bigger, at 8-9 lbs, and longer but not as wide, this was a SCORE!  Spanish mackerel are high up in the food chain, and she made much better tasting sashimi than the skipjack. 

The black skipjack fought much harder, to get out of the net, and let’s just say, I missed the first time with the ice pick.  So, having learned my lessons on the skipjack, the mackerel went peacefully, as I found the right spot this time to place the ice pick.

Carefully filleted her, Don saved as much as possible, only leaving me a tiny bit for more…salted bait.  Because, a sailor can NEVER have enough bait!

Not all snappers are alike!

Here’s where I feel bad. On the way to Isla Mogo Mogo, from Isla Bayonetta in Las Perlas, I put out all three trolling rods. I moved the blue feather to my vintage rod, to see how it would perform now that it’s ready to go. And, I set up the mother of combos, my fancy schmancy Shimano rod and TLD 50 reel. All three reels were rigged with different types of lures with my Skipjack salted bait. Who delivered within 30 minutes? The formerly crazy Yo-Zuri Magnum, now swimming happily in her new 100 lb leader.

While I was thrilled to capture my first snapper, bringing her in, catching her in the net, safely removing the lure, killing and descaling her and then popping her in the deep freeze to reduce her core temperature I did some research. She was a Cubera snapper, which is on the Vulnerable list of fish. Who knew I would catch the one snapper that is on the list. Needless to say, should this happen again, she will be immediately returned to the sea to replenish stocks. Because, a sailor tries to leave a clean wake, including what she chooses to take from the sea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *