Wheelhouse Tales: “The Ultimate Bucket Trick”

I used to run the 60′ Hatteras, “Fishaholic” for Arthur Flores and his brother a few times a month back in the 90’s.  This was a 2 day albacore trip with Myself as Captain, and Taylor Evans as my deckhand.  All the guys got on the boat mid day, and I sat them down and described how the fishing was, and outlined our game plan.  “We’re gonna troll small hex heads and hoochies for these albacore”  I explained.  “These are not big fish, so we will use medium bait sticks as trolling rods.  Light leaders and small jigs are all that’s getting bit right now, understand?”  Almost the whole group nodded in agreement.

A guest of the owner, Mo, had just returned from Kona, Hawaii.  He brought on this trip, the rod and marlin jig that had worked so well for him over there.  When I saw the huge 80W International on a bent butt rod, I cringed.  The marlin jig was a Black Bart something-or-other, and seemed about 3 feet long.  I pleaded with Mo to leave the huge outfit and jig in his car, but he insisted on bringing along.  Mo went on and ON about how he was going to prove me wrong, and catch the biggest fish of the trip with it.  That night as we made our way to the albacore grounds, Mo sat in the pilothouse with me.  He literally would not stop talking about what a great trip he’d had in Kona, and how awesome his rod and jig were going to be on this trip.

At dawn I had Taylor send out the spread.  5 trolling outfits, all light line and small albacore jigs.  We had a double almost immediately.  The guys came out on deck, and cleared the lines.  They got a few baits out,  but the albies had not been biting the bait very good, and that was a big reason why the small jigs were so important.  We enjoyed several stops in a short time, racking up some nice numbers.  All the while Mo was complaining “these fish are small, let me put my gear out Cap!  C’mon man, I GUARANTEE this thing will catch a BIG ONE!”  He was relentless, and driving everyone on board nuts.

After a productive morning, the fish took a break.  The middle of the day lull was in full effect, so I had Taylor cut and package the fish so we could regroup for the afternoon bite.  It was flat calm and warm, so most of the guys laid down for a little shut eye.  I was in the tower, actually looking for a swordfish, or kelp, when I heard that familiar “tweet” of a whistle Taylor used to get my attention.  I looked down into the cockpit to see Taylor pointing to Mo, who was sending his monster marlin jig out and into the spread.  I had to laugh, but began plotting my revenge the second I saw him go against everything I’d been saying this whole trip.

The guys were up making food and drinking beers, so I asked Mo to go up in the tower and take his shift looking for fish.  “You got it Captain!  I’m your man!  I’m going to find a huge one and it’s going to eat that jig of mine, I GUARANTEE it!”  and up the ladder he went.

I began to set a plan in motion that would teach Mo a harmless lesson, or so I thought.  I told everyone on board that we were going to play the famous “bucket trick” on Mo, and explained how it would work.  Taylor placed a 5 gallon bucket on the swimstep, and filled it with water.  A large clip was attached to the handle of the bucket, then clipped onto Mo’s line.  When I gave the signal, Taylor kicked the bucket into the water, and it began to slide down the line towards his huge marlin jig.  The whole group ran into the cabin, laughing as they went.

It seemed like it took forever for the bucket to reach the jig, but when it did, the huge trolling rod doubled over and line began peeling off the 80W like a grander blue marlin had taken the lure.  Of course it was exaggerated by the fact that I immediately hit the throttles and sped the boat up to “set the hook”.  The result was half the line on the reel was dumped in short order, and Mo was SCREAMING at the top of his lungs “I told you so!  You should have listened to me sooner!  Nobody touch my rod!”  Mo had to climb down from the tower, and into the cockpit to get to his rod.  Oh, I forgot to mention.  Mo is a really big guy, like scary big.

Mo got his rod and moved it to the fighting chair.  The gang cleared all the rods and began to cheer him on.  They had smiles, and some were giggling.  I could not believe Mo had not figured it out.  His mouth never stopped.  “You guys are idiots, you should have listened to me!”  The guys standing behind Mo were laughing out loud now, but Mo never caught on.  Mo began to sweat, A LOT.  I positioned the boat down swell, and “walked” the boat away from the bucket with the bow thruster.  Mo kept the play by play “She’s taking line!  It’s a huge fish guys!  WAY bigger than what I caught in Hawaii!  You guys are idiots!”  All his ranting just made me keep the bucket away from him longer, and longer.

The trick was almost over, and I began to worry.  I set the boat up over the top of the line, and Mo had gotten out of the chair and was at the rail.  As the leader came over, Taylor grabbed it with a double overhand like a seasoned mate, and hoist the bucket into view.  Mo was stunned. He literally threw his 80W and custom rod onto the deck so hard, it chipped the deck, and did some damage to the rod.  I was now near panic.  Just before running into the salon like a scorned child he said “Aww, FUCK YOU GUYS!”

The whole group broke out in laughter, but Mo was not yet appreciating the fun of the “bucket trick.”  Taylor put the jigs back out, and I got back to work.  I was quite nervous about what Mo might do to get me back, and it wasn’t long before he came out looking for his revenge.  I hear screams, then I see Taylor on the bow, laughing.  Mo had decided it was my deckhands fault, and we chasing him around the boat.  The whole boat!  Taylor is a 6′ surfer kid in great shape, and there was no way Big Mo was gonna catch him.  Even when I yelled down to Mo from the pilothouse, “It was me Mo, you gotta admit you deserved it!”  He did not stop chasing Taylor.

By the end of the trip Mo did finally laugh about it, but Taylor and Mo literally HATED each other, and still do to this day.  The bucket trick is usually reserved for deckhands that fall asleep, and works well at waking them up.  This was by far the most effective bucket trick I’ve ever seen, and have not had to deploy it since.  I did run that boat after that trip, and Mo did come along.  He’d call me and ask me not to use Taylor as my deck, and I’d say “sure, as long as you leave your gear at home.”  A fair trade, except for Taylor…..

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