The Mexico Diaries: Swimming to Custodio

Chris cleaning the sierras that Marta will turn into ceviche. Photo by David Lansing.

In the morning, we went fishing. The weather was fine—clear, no wind, and no surf. Diego was down at the beach waiting for us. We put all our gear in his panga and helped him push off into the surf, jumping into the boat once the water got up to our knees. It is not easy for three men to fish in a panga. What you have to do is let one line out directly behind the engine and then let the other lines out on either side of the boat and hope the lines don’t get fouled. They will, inevitably, get fouled but you hope it doesn’t happen too many times.

We had not been fishing for more than fifteen minutes before we caught a good-sized fish they call a toro. It looks like a tuna but is smaller and not very good tasting unless you smoke it. Each of us caught several fish in the first two hours and then we trolled for a bit out over the reef enjoying the clear, calm water and watching the dolphins jump but not catching any more fish. Finally, Chris turned to me and asked if I was ready to go back. I said we should give it another fifteen minutes and suggested a bet: If one of us caught a fish in the next fifteen minutes, the other would have to swim back to shore.

So we fished and not five minutes later, Chris hooked into a good-sized fish that we thought might be a jack crevalle. When one person hooks a fish the boat etiquette is that the others reel their lines in so the fish won’t get fouled while coming to the boat. So Pete and I started quickly reeling in our lines.

“Lansing, you’re going swimming!” Chris said as he fought the fish. His pole was bent almost in half and the fish was large enough that it was still taking line out.

I had almost gotten my line all the way in when my pole suddenly bent in half. I had a strike as well. Because my line was so close to the boat it took me only a few minutes to reel my fish in. It was a fine looking sierra, an excellent fish for ceviche. We already had a few sierra in the boat but this was the biggest yet. Meanwhile, Chris was still trying to bring his fish in. When he finally got it to the boat, it was a very large toro.

So, I said, are you ready to swim to shore?

What do you mean? he said. I hooked up before you did.

Yes, but I got my fish into the boat first. That means you’re the one who has to swim to shore.

And he would have done it, too. We were at least a mile off-shore and it would have been a very difficult swim and there are sharks in this area (in fact, Diego told us that he had caught a large shark night fishing last night) but we agreed that the bet had been a tie—he caught his fish first but I got mine in to the boat before his—and so neither one of us had to swim to shore. Which was probably just as well. I’m not sure either one of us would have made it.

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  1. Angeline’s avatar

    I’m sure the sharks were disappointed; probably had hombre ceviche on their menu for their evening soiree.

  2. david’s avatar

    You’re right, Angeline. It would have only been fair to let the sharks have a shot at us.

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