Trolling at Twilight is Frank Waitzkin’s story of his aging family cruising the Bahamas in search of big game fish on the Ebb Tide, their 42-foot Hatteras sportfisher. Along with violent storms, dangerously shallow reefs, and unprecedented amounts of pollution, they encountered a severe lack of fish.
For three weeks they trolled for big tuna and marlin, without so much as a strike. Just as the father (and author) begins to blame society and modernity for all of the ugliness it has cast upon the seas, luck begins to change and his reminiscing of and lamenting for his childhood quickly turn into a deep conviction for the present. After all, air conditioning, cable tv and penicillin aren’t all that bad.
LATE IN THE SUMMER, a gentle southeast breeze nudges our vessel back to Florida from a trip to the southern Bahamas. I’d been right to expect a calm, reflective journey on the Ebb Tide, my old 42-foot Hatteras sportfishing boat. During our family’s past month at sea, there had been many adventures and fervent conversations to consider, along with evenings anchored out in the lee of a few lonely rocks, sitting on the bridge with a beer in my hand, feeling humbled by an epic, darkening sky.
…As a kid, I began learning the nuts and bolts of fishing by walking the docks of places like Montauk, New York, and Bimini, in the Bahamas. I drove tough-talking captains crazy with my barrage of questions: Where’d you find them? What bait did you use? How far out did you set your lines? What was the tide?
Early on I recognized that fishing captains were the real artists of the sport. Like magicians or visionaries, captains could find giant, fierce fish in the vast sea—they had dozens of crafty tricks for getting fish into the boat. Anglers were suckers who paid big bucks and sweated it out in the fighting chair, pumping and reeling. I idolized fishing captains like most boys idolized baseball players.
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Fred Waitzkin has written Searching for Bobby Fisher, Mortal Games, The Last Marlin, and The Dream Merchant, his first novel, which will be published in 2012 by St. Martin’s Press.