Five minutes later, "FISH ON!" It's another King, slightly larger. Earl lands this one into the boat. The mood change is instantaneous, the adrenaline pumping. Finally, we're catching fish. "The next one's yours," they tell me.
We troll for a few minutes. Suddenly, the rod shakes violently, and the reel zings. "FISH ON!" Whatever is on the hook, it's hauling, rolling out yards and yards of line. Jonathan squints out at the line dancing across the surface: "Could be a snake."
He helps me grab the pole and jam it into my harness. The boat is chaos. Everybody starts pulling in the other lines and yelling, "Keep it tight! Keep the line tight!" The fish is unspooling line crazy fast, like it's attached to an Indy car. Kevin confirms, "Wahoo!" from the captain's chair.
I struggle with the rod, trying to turn the crank of the reel. Kevin works the boat throttles, watching the line, keeping the slack tight. The rod is darting and bucking. Wahoo apparently don't fight as hard as tuna, but it's exhausting enough for me, and I can barely turn the reel a few rotations at a time. I'm panting like a dog, my arms are burning. To pass the pole to someone else is a sign of weakness. Some fish fight so hard, it can take up to five guys to land it, passing the pole down the line.
Suddenly the wahoo pops to the surface. Jonathan sticks it with a gaff and hauls it into the boat. Its wicked jaws are snapping, the body is colored a shimmering blue and silver, flopping and sloshing around the deck. John clubs him two good ones while somebody else unhooks the bait.
"Looks like about 50 pounds," says Kevin. Everybody is whooping: "Camera - where's your camera?!" I'm completely shaking. Earl and I hold up the wahoo by the tail; it's covered in slime. Snap, snap. We toss the wahoo into the box of ice. Earl high-fives me, laughing: "It's addictive, isn't it?"
Jonathan refits another bait and tosses it back into the gulf. "We'll be fishing all night now!