The man rose when the dawn broke. It was early. Likuliku Beach was deserted. Time to start the quest. Waiting until later wouldn’t work. Too much to do. The sun started its march upward. The sky is clear and the winds stiff in the bay off Waya Island.
He saw the two boat boys getting ready. One to drive and one to help the man. Three rods to improve the odds. A spare gas can. Six lures. A long pole with a hook to get it on board.
The boys greeted the man. Bula! It was the island way. The man climbed in and the helper shoved off. The man sat in front, the place of honor. The small boat raced from shore. The water was choppy.
It was a very small boat. Open to the sky with a motor that coughed its way across the bay. Nothing inside but a water bottle that rolled on the rough plywood plank that was the floor. Up with the crest of a wave. Down in the trough. Over and over.
No life jackets. No fire extinguisher. No spare rope. No tools. Not even a paddle. Far away from safety regulations went the boat boys. If the boat swamped, they would wait for the mid-morning ferry to be rescued.
No seat cushions. The man sat upon the hard board as four foot swells hit the hull. Life was good. The search was on.
Sailfish, wahoo, yellow fin tuna. Bonito, skip jack tuna, walu. They caught them all in the bay near the small island in Fiji. The man’s heart was light.
The helper attached the lures to the three lines and cast them. One by one he cast them into the deep. Three invitations for breakfast. But who would come?
The driver set the motor to troll speed. The man was ready. He had waited for this moment. To hear the reel spin at the strike. The helper to hand the lucky rod to the man. The man to do the hard work. How to pull and reel, pull and reel, at just the right time.
Up ahead they see a disturbance in the water. Small fish jumping. Desperate they were, trying to avoid being eaten by a bigger fish. No matter the size, there is always a bigger fish. The man narrowed his eyes. Yes, many fish jumping.
No need to tell the driver. The helper sees them too. Cautiously they troll into the swarm. The lures drag through the school. One pass, two passes, three passes. No strikes.
The man is impatient. The sun is now hot. The sea is rough. The seat is hard.
The boat turned to catch the current. More fish jumping ahead. The helper changed the lures. Something bigger, and bright red. Better to catch a fish to fight the man.
More passes. Still no strikes. At the end of the bay the boat turns around. Slowly trolling back.
The man and the helper scan the waters for signs. Even the sea birds are nowhere to be found.
After a long time the boat heads back to shore. The boat boys tie up the boat and put away the rods, the spare gas can, the lures, and the pole.
The man is disappointed. He has caught nothing but a sore butt.