This section is from the book "Moose-Hunting Salmon-Fishing And Other Sketches Of Sport Being The Record Of Personal Experiences Of Hunting Wild Game In Canada", by T. R. Pattillo. Also available from Amazon: Moose-Hunting, Salmon-Fishing and Other Sketches of Sport: Being the Record of Personal Experiences of Hunting Wild Game in Canada.
Think of eight men being confined for eighteen days on a space 25 by 100 feet, and not taking advantage of such a spree and ridiculous outcome as this. The old captain laughed till he cried, and that sober old mate actually stopped swearing and started into laughing also.
Well, half an hour passed before the lines could be cleared and the baits trailing again. All this while the excitement was kept up by just such ridiculous speeches as Jack tars can make. We were soon fast into another pair, and continued catching them till fifty-seven lay on the deck. Then with all our hooks gone and lines more or less broken up, we were forced to knock off, while there were apparently a hundred more waiting and ready to be captured. The deck at that time was not in a condition to receive either the admiral or a health officer, but with six hands at work the fish were soon disposed of and the deck washed down. When this was nearly completed, the captain was at the wheel, and, looking down the rudder port, spied some little fish.
" The fun is not all over yet. There must be a 'man-eater' in this neighbourhood; for here are his pilot fish seven of them," said he.
These little fellows look like mackerel, are grand eating, and accompany this particular shark, the man-eater. They always precede them, and many a poor fellow's body has been saved from his ponderous jaws by the appearance of these little fellows, so that while they act as pilots for the fish, they are often the protectors of the man. Where the captain saw these the rudder port is their favourite resort about the vessel, the shark then oftentimes lurking under her bottom. Of course, it can only be in moderate weather they are visible. Pardon this digression for the above explanation.
" Sam," said the captain, " go up on the main-topsail yard, and take a view of our surroundings. That shark you saw is about somewhere, either under or astern of us."
" All right, sir," and off he started.
As soon as he reached his look-out, he shouted back. " There he is, sir, about 100 fathoms astern in the ship's wake, playing about."
" Stay there, and watch his movements. Mr. 0. (the mate), you take charge of the capture of this fellow. I think it will be no trouble to get him."
"All right, sir."
So down into the cabin he went, returning with a piece of pork and a coil of small new rope, called in nautical language " ratline." In the mean time the captain had gone up to Sam's position, taken a view of the monster, and returned to the deck.
" Have your gear solid, Mr. C, for you have no chicken to deal with. Judging from the distance, I think I never saw so large a one."
" What are you going to do with that pork and rope, Mr. C?"I asked.
" Well, the pork is to bait him. He is not a fish but flesh eater. That is the reason he did not bother us when we were baiting up the dolphin. With the ratline I'll make a' running bowline,' nautically speaking equivalent to a ' slip-knot' in plain English, or a ' snare,' as the boys say. Now, the pork must be attached to a piece of € marline ' more sailors' language and hung out of the larboard stern hawser-pipe so as just to touch the water, that the oil and scent from it may be trailed to him in the brig's wake. Cook ! bring me some slush (the fat drippings of the meat) saved for ship's use."
With this watch him greasing the bowline he has tied, and hear his explanation of it.
" I want this rope to help toll him as well, and if there is a chance to draw it upon him it will hook all the closer."
The mate has taken his position on the taflrail or top of the stern his body prostrate, with both hands on the outside, holding the slip-knot. The one the standing, the other slipping part ready for immediate action. The tolling with that bait was assigned to me, as they knew me to be a skilful fisherman. So it was soused well at first, and the water at once saturated with the oil from it, which could be easily seen on the surface, and watched as it moved to the shark. He seemed to get its scent even before it reached him, and started forward quickly, threshing his great tail as if pleased.
Sam shouted, " There he comes, captain, fast."
Well, he did come fast until about halfway to the vessel, then checked himself, and worked backwards and forwards across the brig's wake, as if suspicious of danger, and looking for his little pilots he was never again to see.
" Mr. C, don't you think some of the oil off the pork-barrel might coax him along," suggested one of the onlookers; and you can be assured they were all there, deeply interested, more than that, greatly excited.
As quick as thought the second mate had some there, and the trail of it made, by dropping a little at a time. Its effect for a while was magical, for he sailed straight ahead, then hesitated, but each fresh oil-baiting coaxed him along a little, until he reached a point about 12 feet from the snare. My pork dangled 3 feet in front of the bowline, and directly in its line, so it could not be taken without his head first going through it. It occurred to me to try a little coaxing with that bait, so I dropped it along with the current of the vessel, through the bow of the bow-line and within three feet of him, knowing he could not get it without first turning over on his back. This seemed to infuriate him. He wanted that bait, but fought shy of the vessel. We were all eyeing him, with some of our heads just peeping over the taffrail, others looking through the hawser-pipes eight pairs of anxious eyes on him.
When the bait was hauled away from him he made a short rush for it, but not to swallow it, because he could not. The pork was getting so much soaked there was little substance leaving it, so a fresh piece was brought into requisition.
Just then an exclamation came from the mate, who had been lying all this time in a trying position. " Hope to Heaven he'll start soon! I'm almost dead."