"Necesito un grande pez vela, ahora, mon capitaine."
"It worked so well yesterday."
"We need to do something to change our luck."
I climbed up to the bridge and delivered the message, saluting the captain respectfully. The captain nodded and saluted back. Within 30 seconds the closest boat to us—and there were several less than 100 yards away—hooked a sailfish. It leaped like the ocean was in a boil.
We admired the fight. I felt like a child kept in from recess watching his mates have all the fun. "You got the pronoun wrong," Pedro accused me. "You must have said, 'They need a large sailfish now.' "
"Shut up and have a sandwich."
"They're too soggy."
As the hours went by, it became clear to us that for fly-fishing purposes we were wasting our time. It wasn't until the Enchantress was starting for port that we got one more chance at a pez vela. A sailfish grabbed one of the two trailing mullets and stripped out 30 yards of line. The mate had to give the rod three mighty jerks to yank the bait out of its mouth. Then he let the mullet hang back there to see if the sailfish, which had tasted it, wanted more.
Its bill broke the surface of the ocean just behind the mullet. The mate reeled as fast as he could, and we could see the dark shadow of the sailfish beneath the skittering bait. It grabbed the mullet again, and the mate jerked it away again. Pablo, rod in hand, shouted, "Now!" The captain cut the engine, and the mate yanked the mullet out of the water. Half-eaten, it flew 25 yards in the air, smacking into the cabin, beside my ear. Pablo cast beyond the sailfish. We lost sight of its dark body for a moment, but as he gave the fly two strips, the sailfish suddenly appeared below it.
Heading away from the boat, the fish took the fly in its mouth. Pablo struck it hard twice, the rod bent, then...nothing. Once again, the fish hadn't hooked up. Affecting a British accent, Pedro broke the silence. "As they say when you miss a bird in Scotland, 'You touched him, sir. I believe you touched him.' "