February 1, 2014.
My friend Steve seems to be a good guy. Intelligent, well spoken and successful in life. Yet sometimes when I watch him clean fish I begin to wonder about him.
When I clean fish I do it on the foredeck so I can use the anchor washdown pump to clean up afterwards. It sometimes makes a huge mess and I have to spend a bit of time washing blood and fish scales down the side decks and out the scuppers.
Steves boat has a great sugar scoop stern. He puts his cutting board on the lowest level of the sugar scoop and fillets away. Clean up is much easier this way but in an effort to save wear and tear on his back he does something that gives me the shivers.
He stands on the swim ladder in knee deep water as he works on the fish near waist level. In most anchorages this isn't an issue but when we drop the hook in Double Breasted Cay there is cause for concern.
When you get back to the big boat after a day of fishing the sharks are already there milling about. Its really the only anchorage down here that this phenomenon is so prevalent. The sharks at Double Breasted know the dinghy means fish scraps and when they hear the dinghy its like somebodies ringing the dinner bell. Boom, they're there.
So while Steve stands in knee deep water with blood running off the transom the sharks are darting back and forth right below him. He says he pays attention to them and they don't really bother him even though once in a while they'll bump the ladder hes balanced on. I'd fillet my own thumb off if I had to keep one eye on the sharks while I was cleaning a fish. These aren't some trained, hand fed Nurse Sharks like up at Compass Cay. But it works for him....
We prefer to make the sharks work for their handouts. After we clean a good sized fish we'll tie it to a line with a float on it and toss it overboard.I cleat off the other end of the line and sit back to enjoy watching the sharks grabbing the fish head and trying to dart away with it. After a bit I pull the fish head in and remove the line before rewarding the most deserving shark.