Each time she reeled the line tight, the fish was there. He jumped often, sometimes in such quick succession that it looked as though three different fish were out there. He circled the boat. He sped beneath it. He cartwheeled. He thrashed. He ran again, and again.
When Hilde finally had him up near the boat—that critical time when so many fish are lost—she was trembling with excitement. But all the knots and the hook held. I could see that the Willie Wonder's hook was through the upper lip, but barely holding.
"Don't kill him," Hilde said.
I thought I knew what would happen when I lifted the dorado from the water. "Take a good, close look," I told Hilde as, with the hook gripped hard in my right hand, I hoisted him up, all gold and blue and green and surely the most beautiful creature on the planet.
With two feet of him out of the water and nearly another two feet to go, he shook his large, blunt head, and as I had thought and hoped it would, the hook pulled out, and he dropped back into the sea. He barely made a splash, disappearing so quickly that despite the clarity of the water, I couldn't tell where he had gone.
"I did it," Hilde said. "I did it! What a Thanksgiving!" She raised her right hand in the air triumphantly. I joined her.