Issue: February 2002
Speed Kills

Sometimes the past is like a waterlogged tree floating down the Bay after a week of hard March rain. You may not see it coming, but you'd better remember it's out there, lest you suffer some serious emotional gelcoat damage. This is especially true of domesticated racing sailors, I thought, half-listening to the helpful young man in the tackle shop who was asking me exactly what kind of fishing I was interested in.

"Rockfish," I said. It was early fall on the Bay-need I say more? True, any rockfish I was going to catch would by necessity have the IQ of a turnip, but the gauntlet had been thrown. My oldest brother, who sails out of Rock Hall, just last week had been fishing in his usual rabid fashion (chuck a line with a sinker and a lure attached, pop a chilly, lean back and put one foot on the wheel) and by God if he hadn't snagged a perfectly legal-if mentally challenged-striper. "Did you think about releasing it?" I asked. "For about a second, before I whacked it with the fish bat," he said. The brute. Subsequent reports indicated that dinner at Chez Willy that evening was luscious, to say the least.

So I called my brother Josh to get the lowdown. I wanted a rig that Johnny and I could troll off Luna, and since I'm as well versed in fishing as I am in astrophysics, I needed some expert advice. He explained Bill's rig, noting that the key ingredient seemed to be the Green Weenie. "I beg your pardon!" I said. "The Green Weenie," he repeated. "It's a lure, like green surgical tubing. They love it."

And when I said, "I need a Green Weenie" to the helpful young man in the tackle shop, he didn't even blush. Not surprising, when you consider some of the other lures I could have asked him for, such as the Deep Wee-R, the Hula Popper, the Jitterstick, the Sputterbuzz and last but not least, Vibra King Tubes. All in all, "I need a Green Weenie" seemed pretty G-rated.

Anyway, the helpful young man then asked what sort of boat we would be trolling from and I said, a Peterson 34. He looked confused. "Is that a cuddy cabin or center console?" No, no, I said, it's a sloop. A former racing sailboat, now turned family cruiser. "Is it fast?" he asked. "Oh man," I said, "she flies." Now he looked worried. "Well, we don't have any Green Weenies, but I've had good luck with this diving lure." He handed me a zucchini-sized torpedo with a lower lip like a dinnerplate and two sets of what appeared to be ice tongs hanging off its belly. "Thing is," he said, "you have to slow down."

"Slow down?" I asked.

"Yeah. You won't catch a thing if you're trolling too fast."

"So what's fast?"

"Well, three to four knots is generally a good speed."

I've been married to my husband for 10 years, five of them spent racing sailboats. Long enough to know that slowing down is not really in his genetic code. Just the other night, in fact, he was mumbling about carbon fiber and titanium in his sleep. I sighed, bought the medieval zucchini lure and stopped at the Safeway on the way home. After all, there's always pork, the other white meat.