by Louis Barbier
shark That Almost Got
Away ... or how to stop traffic on the Causeway
We had been going to the
Causeway to fish for some time -- at least when we were not fishing at Cocoli Lake, Gatun
Lake, 3rd Set of Locks, or out in the middle of the Canal off the old Farfan Ferry. It was
afternoon about 2:30, it was hot, we were running low on Panama, so Dickey says he would
make a run up to the BYC and get a case of the good stuff. We had been fishing for 2
hours. We had caught a lot of trash -- you know Blowfish, Spanish mackerel, and lots of
small sharks. One particular hammerhead seem to love my line. I had to cut the line twice.
I was looking forward to catching some nice juicy red snapper or some sea bass. We
had been using some shrimp we had picked up at Balboa Commissary. The ice in the cooler
was from the Ice House out back. The Panama and Balboa we had got at the Pad area. We also
had some eats. You can't get all that sun and drink some suds without food. We had
some Diablo Empanadas and some YMCA Won-tons. Sam had also brought some Tamales. They were
cold but so was the beer. Now lets get back to the story.
We were having a great time talking about stuff guys talk about when they all get together. The lies were really flying. Automobile traffic was moderate. Seems like a lot of the people were headed for Amador Beach or just cruising. We had been mooned a couple of times by some girls in a little blue VW convertible. So, when Dickey gets back with the beer, he also had brought back some of those delicious BYC steak sandwiches on micha bread. So, we pop a brew and woof down the sandwich. So, Dickey says, "We are wasting our time. The good fish are down at the point! Lets call it a day guys. What do you say?" We all say, "Hell no, we came to fish and we ain't leaving until we caught some supper. And that is final!"
So, we continue fishing. Then all of a sudden Shorty jumps up and yells, "I got one and it is putting up a hell of a fight!" So, we bring in our lines and watch Shorty play with the fish he has hooked. Then all of a sudden a fin comes out of the water. And I know what you are thinking ... that tune right! Well, Shorty after fighting it, lands the shark. Holy Cow! It is that same hammerhead again. I hit it with my machete, but those sharks have a hide like an elephant -- tough as nails. Well, we figure that this time we are not going to throw it back in ... it was about 8 to 10 feet, then again it might have been 6 feet. But you should have seen those mean Choppers. Shorty is already thinking how those Choppers would look hanging in his Bachelor Pad behind the YMCA.
So, I say, you guys how about us tracking it out here on the road way and let a car or maybe a truck hit it. That ought to kill it. Anybody who has caught a shark knows that they can live out of the water for hours on end. Sometimes a shark thought to be dead, because it was out of the water for hours and been hit with club, has given a mean bite. Some shark bite cases have been rushed up to ER at Gorgas.
Well, we drag old Charlie the Hammerhead out onto the roadway. We hunker on down on the rocks to enjoy another brew. Along comes this car -- a Toyota. He is coming at a good rate of speed. About that time old Charlie starts twitch, it seems the hot pavement has brought him back from the dead. The car slams its brakes on. Then the driver starts yelling in Spanish something about our families' heritage. We yell back that, "No, habla espanol!" He then switches to Pan-English and says, "What is that shark doing there?" We all answer, "He is trying to cross the road to swim to Taboga Island." Then he turns to the beautiful girls in the car and say, "Esos gringos son locos. Mira ese tiburon en todo el camino." About this time a crowd has gathered and lot of traffic has started to back up. Well, needless to say the MP's show up. They ask us if the shark belongs to us. Dickey answers, "No sir. That is not our shark!" The MP then says, "What is it doing there?" I then answer, "With all due respect, I think it was trying to cross the road." Well, the cars in the back that can't see anything start beeping their horns. The shark really starts flipping around. That scatters the kids. And the MP's say, "Okay, folks there is nothing to see, here. Everybody back in their cars. " They start directing the cars around the shark. About this time more MP's arrive. Then the Bomberos from the Balboa Firehouse. The traffic is stopped and the Bomberos with these long pole hooks coax the shark over to the other side. Nothing happened to us. We kind of in all the excitement got into our pickup and drove away. The following week we notice some new signs on the Causeway: "No fishing, No swimming, and No stopping by order of the Governor." So, the Causeway fishing hole was history. We didn't mind ... too many sharks in those waters anyway.
September 18, 1999
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