March 2017 ttimes web magazine

Page 27

A Caribbean Fish Tale by Dick Cooper

Just li ke most of t he f ishing stories in my life, this one starts out in the dark. While I have never studied the habits or habitats of fish, I am familiar with the methods and practices of those who try to catch them. The requisite starting time for this endeavor is always in the middle of the night. And so it was during our latest visit to the island of Aruba in the southern Caribbean. The morning birds were still quiet when my fishing partner, Don, a high-school principal from Alabama who grew up casting for redfish in the Louisiana bayous, and I met as planned in the darkened lobby of our hotel. About six weeks before, we had made reservations on the website f and had received an e-mail that we would be picked up at 6 a.m. We followed the website’s instructions and were outfitted for the half-day trip in shorts; lightweight, long-sleeved shirts; and with hats and sunscreen in our tote bags, when a big, throaty pickup with a dozen fishing rods bristling upright in its bed pulled up right on time. If I had called Central Casting and asked them for a “tropical fishing guide type,” they would have

Laurenz van Mook and his boat, 50 Shades of Blue. sent Laurenz van Mook. Lean and fit, with a salt-and-pepper goatee and mustache, he bounded out of the truck and walked up to us with a broad a smile and said, “How did you know it was me?” As he drove through the dark, empt y streets on the shor t tr ip to Ora njestad Ha rbor, L auren z qu i z z e d u s about ou r pre v iou s angling experiences. A 1,000-footlong cruise ship was lit up like a small city as we passed, but none of its 3,500 passengers were stirring on its 17 decks. Laurenz parked the truck next to one of the smallest vessels in the basin, his gaudily painted 24-foot open fishing boat named 50 Shades of Blue. We moved the fishing equipment from the truck to the boat, and Don and I took our seats 25

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