Fish Stories

The other day, I passed a Jeep with a bumper sticker that read, “I say we should fish 5 days and work 2.” I’m surprised we don’t see that bumper sticker on every New Orleans car.

If there ever was a city with a cult of fishing, New Orleans is it. These people are absolutely nuts about fishing! When we meet someone new, they don’t usually show much interest in sailing. But boating, on the other hand, grabs ’em. Because boating is a means to go fishing. As in, “What kinda fishin’ gear y’all got on that boat?”

A few weeks after we arrived in New Orleans, it became apparent that Peepcar’s CV joints were shot. We decided to have them fixed before taking a road trip to Florida, but we were nervous about going to the first repair garage we saw. So I went out on the Cartalk website and looked for recommendations. Click ‘n’ Clack have some understanding of boating, since they insist that when your car’s service light comes on, it usually means your mechanic needs to make a boat payment.

Armed with a list of promising garages, I set out on a Wednesday morning to check out a few. The first garage was small; there wasn’t even a pedestrian door. As I walked through the garage itself to the office, I noticed that nobody was working on the cars, and when I stepped into the office, I saw why. There were about ten straight-backed chairs arranged around the walls of the office, and that’s where the mechanics were. Of course, I should have known that 11 AM was lunchtime for auto mechanics, right?

Now, I’ve been in a lot of uncomfortable situations in my life, but this was one of the top five. I walked in, unsuspecting, on ten men, sitting in a manly circle, eating big manly po-boy sandwiches and having a manly discussion. On fishing. The room fell silent and they all stared. I was terrified of their ridicule if they knew the truth about me. “You LIVE on a BOAT and you DON’T KNOW HOW to FISH???”

I got my estimate (he must have been the boss, but all ten of them looked identical to me in their mechanics coveralls and fishing caps) and hightailed it out of there, the proverbial fish out of water.

I thought about giving up on the car estimates and just finding a fishing school someplace, but instead I persevered. The next place was only two blocks away, and it looked more promising. They actually had a glass door that led to an office, separated from the garage. I was sure the estimate would be higher to reflect the additional amenities.

Upon entering, my first thought was, “Oh, God! I’ve interrupted another lunch!” The air was thick with the smell of fish po-boys. But these were different. The employees were assembling them, starting with the piles of buns and condiments on the back counter. As I started talking with the guy behind that counter, I suddenly realized that he was deep-frying the fish and french fries right in front of me. While discussing the problems of CV joints in Hondas.

He turned out to be the owner of both the garage and a 25-foot fishing boat. “See those pictures over there?” On the bulletin board were photos of the boat and lots of different people holding big fish and grinning.

His employees seemed to be one big happy family, and the atmosphere was congenial, so while one of the garage fellows took a look at Peepcar, I shared my story. Which got him started about Seabrook and sailboats and good fishing spots in the vicinity. All the while shaking and turning the freshly-caught striped bass in the deep fryer.

When I returned to Cayenne, I had to explain to Barry why I’d selected Cacamo’s over the other garages. “It’s simple. They had the best price. They made me feel comfortable. But most importantly, that striped bass sure was tasty!”