Sunday, January 9, 2011

Isla Isabela

I am in San Blas now, which is a small town (with good surfing supposedly) south of Mazatlan and north of Puerto Vallerta. I arrived yesterday from Isla Isabella, which is a beautiful little island out in the middle of the pacific, filled with birds and fish.

I wrote this out at the island:

I'm at Isla Isabella, where prehistoric creatures creep, flap, and squeal throughout. First, one must beach their craft on a volcanic rocks, surrounded by pounding surf and treacherous waves, and then, into the forest... It consists of mostly a small species of tree, I am not sure the type, but it grows no more than 20 ft high, and is relatively free of underbrush. The trees are filled, and I mean overflowing with, frigatebirds. They screech, flap noisily, and ghost overhead, their long black wings beating like Pteradactyls, soaring over the treetops, and sometimes taking their wings beneath the branches. They can't land too well, so they tend to just flop into a tree somewhere, holding their wings out to keep them from falling through the branches. Some of them have big red pouches, that they fill up with air to attract mates, while others are white headed juveniles. Large iguanas watch quietly as I pass by their relm, unperturbed. As I get to the beach on the far side of the island, I am suddenly walking amongst Blue footed Boobies, which are nesting on the ground. They hiss and clack their bills at me, but will not move from their nest. It is just a small dimple in the ground, with two or maybe three eggs sitting in it. Their beautiful blue feet waddle all over the eggs, but apparently the eggs have tough enough shellls to hold the weight. The beach is jagged rocks, black debris from the volcano that formed this island.

I caught a Almico Jack, or Pacific Amberjack, or Pargo, which is a great tasting fish, almost identical to a Yellowtail, I think. This fish, at first sight, was not too big for me to handle, and since I now have a nice big speargun, I took a shot at it. I got it in the head (where I was aiming) but a little lower than I would have liked, and I am now thinking that I should hit the fish in the body, because I think I've bent my spear. It held stiffly from the head, but I pulled on it to bring the fish to the surface, and that made it bend a little. Anyways, immediately after the shot, the fish was stunned, and I should have gotten my hands in its gills then, but I didn't. So I tried pulling it up a little, but it awoke, and then took off for the bottom, pulling me down with it. It was a strong fish, so I let it go (I have made a float line, attached to the gun) and paid out the line until I got to the surface. Then I began to reel it back in. When I got the fish close, I grabbed it by the gills, but suddenly I realized that this fish was HUGE. It was much bigger than I had first thought, and nearly as wide as my torso. By far the biggest fish I have caught.

I managed to bring it over to a nearby boat, which I had met the people aboard the day before, and then they helped me get it on board, and to eat it.

After two days of visiting Isabella and hiking around with a mexican family (The Montoyas), I feel adopted. It takes so little time to get adopted here and there, and it feels nice. They have me over for dinner (or a late snack) just before they are going to set out northbound to Mazatlan. So it is 10 when I come over to visit, and their boat is rocking and has a fair amount of starboard list to it, making the table drunkenly sway and drop the wine glasses and Tequila on the floor. I sway delightfully on my tall stool, hoping not to pick up the feet too high and tumble into the table. They are speaking in Spanish, quickly, but clearly (amazingly) and I can understand a lot of what is going on, though sometimes they translate for me. They come from Mexico City, and their English is perfect, and their Spanish is enunciated and clear. I am not used to this, but rather the mumble slurs of the fishermen that I meet most of the time. It is beautiful.

They leave at midnight, and the next morning, I am prepared to leave, but a southeast wind holds me back, so I move to the other anchorage and go diving again. The visibility is better, and there is a sandy bottom, but not so clear as I could hope for. I see huge Pacific Jack Trevally, which I don't know if they taste good or not, and two Wahoo. I try to shoot the Wahoo, but my spear lanyard is too short, so I miss. They are the first Wahoo I have ever seen, and they look quite tasty. Hopefully I will see some more. There are tons of fish in the water, and large ones too. Finally I am so pestered by some large Almico Jacks (the Amberjack) that I go to the surface and yell out to the other boats that have arrived if they want some fish. They do. So I shoot another amberjack. This one, I get the spear all the way through, so no bending spearshaft, and it is almost the same size as the one from the day before. I sigh and wonder why these fish turn out to be bigger than I first thought.

I bring one fillet to a catamaran, whom I've seen before in Mazatlan, and the other one (the bigger fillet) to another boat with three people on board. It is too much fish. The Catamaran invites me for dinner, and we eat half of the fillet (three people) and are stuffed.

I have too powerful of a speargun, and the fish here are too big.

On the way in to San Blas, I caught this fish on, and I can't identify it. If you can tell me what it is, please do.


Anonymous said...

The little finlets along the top and bottom in front of the tail means it's a type of tuna.

Hard to say which of the 48 kinds of tuna without a clear view of the dorsal fins. Possibly skipjack, bonito, slender, or frigate tuna??

mlloyd said...

So, have you surfed yet?
I'm impressed with your prowess as a spear fisherman, it sounds like a great way to get free dinner and company! It's trying to snow up here and it could keep trying all week.

Rachel said...

Crazy!! Christian, that fish is HUGE!! Glad to hear you are not starving and that you are making friends... my little brother is a stud...

Matt said...

That fish is ridiculously big. Must've been some meal.