Among thedistinguished graduates of Dartmouth College, class of '32, Charles Atkins MayoJr. of Provincetown, Mass. is singularly blessed. He goes to work each morningin his bare feet and returns at night smelling like a tuna fish—for which he ispaid $100 a day. A poet and philosopher by training, a scientist by instinct,Charlie Mayo is a fisherman by birth and chance and choice. His is not acalling that is guaranteed to reward one unduly in worldly goods—savings inshoe leather and psychiatric fees aside—but Mayo is amazed and more than alittle humble over the fact that he has made a living for 30 years doingexactly what he wants to do.
Charlie Mayo is acharter boatman and a good one, perhaps the finest tuna skipper on the Atlanticcoast, although this is not a statistic that lends itself to the same precisemeasurement as Mickey Mantle's batting average, being more on the order of howmany clams make a chowder. In song and story the northern tip of Cape Cod isfamed for many things—Eugene O'Neill, lobsters, the Provincetown Players andthe kookiest collection of beats, Dad, this side of San Francisco's NorthBeach—all of them tending to obscure the fact that big, hungry tuna inhabit thewaters just offshore. As a result, a charter boatman seeking fame would bebetter advised to concentrate his energies on better-known tuna grounds, suchas Wedgeport's legendary Soldier's Rip or Cat Cay in the Bahamas or the openAtlantic off Point Judith, R.I., to mention a few. Or better yet, forgo tunaaltogether and fish for marlin off Hatteras and San Juan or for broadbill offCape Breton and Montauk. This, despite invitations from his clients, CharlieMayo has refused to do. The reasons are simple enough. Mayo's passion for fish,once encompassing virtually everything in fins short of a 1949 Cadillac, hasnarrowed through the years until it now flares over only one species, thosegreat brutal bullets of the sea, the giant bluefin. Beyond that, Charlie Mayois a Cape Cod man and you couldn't pull him away from Provincetown with a 12/0hook.
As a result,Mayo's fame has never spread far beyond Boston and Gloucester to the north orpast the Cape Cod Canal to the south. But in the magic expanse of Cape Cod Bayno one can match Charlie Mayo's record for putting anglers on big fish. Hecaught the first giant tuna on rod and reel in Cape Cod Bay back in 1937, andin the years since has guided more fishermen to more tuna than all the Orleansand Brewster and Barnstable men lumped together. Five times in the last sevenyears his customers have won the Governor's Trophy for the largest tuna takenin Massachusetts waters. In local tournaments, before Mayo withdrew from theseclamorous affairs altogether, his wake was often so full of other boats thatthe progress of Chantey III toward the fishing grounds resembled the maidenvoyage of the Queen Mary. His lures and baiting devices have been the object ofespionage tactics more suited to a piece of Philip Wylie fiction than to actualfact. His charter book is so full that Boston executives consider themselvesfavored at finding a spot on the boat without making reservations a year inadvance.
"I like tothink that I could have been equally successful wherever I might havefished," says Mayo in his cultured Yankee voice, "but that would havemeant becoming a drifter. I love the Cape and I love tuna and both are here. Ihave a home and a family and a good life. What more could a man ask?"
December 3, 1962
Charlie Mayocould no more escape the sea than a squid. His family, on his father's side,were Grand Bankers and whalers; on his mother's, Yankee ship captains andAzores Islanders. An ancestor named John Atkins once toppled from a whaleboatinto a whale's mouth. Spit up faster than Jonah went down, the old man was backfishing next day. A Mayo brought his schooner to port singlehanded, surroundedby the bodies of passengers and crew, every man jack dead of smallpox. Thefamily goes back in America to Governor Prence of Plymouth Colony, and an earlyprogenitor was the Rev. John Mayo, first pastor of Boston's Old North Churchand a man who could fish as well as he could preach. "Maybe better,"says Charlie.
As a boy, Mayospent the summer months aboard his father's schooner, a drag fisherman undersail. Before he reached high school he was collecting 50¢ a head from touristswilling to take a chance in Charlie's sailing dory in order to view the wondersof Provincetown from the harbor side. Later his parents helped him buy a28-foot sloop that he chartered for both cruising and the pursuit offish."We hand-lined for striped bass," says Mayo. "Sometimes we evencaught a few."
With the moneyfrom his summer business, Charlie left the dazzling beaches of Provincetown andwent off to Dartmouth and the hills of Hanover in the fall of 1928. Immediatelyhe fell in love with the place. He learned to ski ("But not very well,"he says) and became a disciple of Sidney Cox, an authority on Robert Frost.There was a time when Mayo thought that he might become a writer himself."Dartmouth was good for me," he says now, "but, Lord, how I missedthe sea. I would wake up at night and hear the waves on the beach—only theyturned out to be dishes rattling in the commons." He tried his hand atfiction after graduation in the spring of '32, but finally gave it up. "Icouldn't stay away from boats," he says, "and boats and creativewriting don't mix."
The boat in 1932was a 41-foot Maine yawl named the Istar. Becalmed aboard her one night inProvincetown Harbor with 20 tourists threatening to feed him to the sharks,Charlie decided that it was time to see the world. He put an engine in theIstar. found a charter and set out for Florida. In the next five years Mayocruised up and down the Atlantic coast, beyond Cuba and the Dry Tortugas andGrand Cayman to the south, first in the old yawl, then in a catboat, then in aketch. Once, forced into port by a storm at Georgetown, S.C., and desperatelyin need of a crew, Charlie called up a girl he knew in New York named Isabel(Ing) Stahl and asked her to marry him. "I would never have made it backthat time without her," he says. "She turned out to be such a good handthat I kept her on." Wherever Charlie went, with or without Ing, underpower or sail, he fished. He caught dolphin and barracuda and wahoo andkingfish and billfish in the south; on the Cape, in the summers, he became anexpert on bass. But the more Mayo fished, the more fascinated he became withthe idea of taking a giant tuna on rod and reel.
These were thedays of Mike Lerner and Kip Farrington and Tommy Gifford in Wedgeport, of BenCrowninshield in Ipswich, but Charlie Mayo didn't know Mike Lerner from alobster, and he had to make all of the mistakes for himself. The only thing heknew was that the tuna were there. For years they had been caught in the trapsof the Worthington Fish Company, sometimes huge ones weighing 600 and 700 and800 pounds; once a fish that weighed more than 1,000 pounds was dumpedingloriously on the dock at the packing plant. So in the summer of 1937 Mayobought a secondhand 12/0 Penn reel, filled it with 39-thread linen and hung iton an ancient bamboo pole. There is no record that the tuna fled in fright.
"Other peoplewere trying to catch big fish, too," he says, "but they always missed.The bait was wrong, the methods were wrong or something. I missed, too, for awhile. But John Worthington encouraged me to keep going—and one day we hit.John and Ing and I were out in a little double-ender when a tuna struck atrolled squid. The fish weighed only 200 pounds, and we had it aboard in 20minutes, but I never had so much fun in my life."
Back in port,Mayo bought another complete tuna rig and an old Crosby catboat, recentlyretired from the mail run between the Cape and Martha's Vineyard. Her name wasOn Time. "I don't think she was, very often," says Charlie, who renamedher Chantey. Fishing under sail, he caught big fish that fall—he began to findit easy—and almost starved to death. There were far more tuna thancustomers.
If Charlie'scharter business developed slowly, his reputation hardly kept pace. He becameknown as a master seaman with a keen, probing mind; he was curious about thesea and everything that lived on its surface or beneath. On the Sunday morningwhen Pearl Harbor flamed, he was in port at Washington, taking aboard fishtanks on an assignment to collect specimens from southern waters for theSmithsonian Institution. "I'd been worrying about those poor devils theykept bringing ashore off torpedoed tankers," he says. "I felt that ourships should take advantage of the protection of the inland waterway. So Iworked on that for a while, and then I went to the Caribbean with NelsonRockefeller on a shipbuilding program designed to replace the interislandcarriers that had been called up by war." In 1943 Charlie moved toWashington as civilian in charge of hull maintenance on the wooden PT boats."The housing situation was terrible, so we lived on a 43-foot schooner tiedup at the Capital Yacht Club. Our son was almost born on that boat. Ing justmade it ashore. We called him Stormy. Actually, he's Charles Atkins MayoIII."
When the warended, Charlie went back to the Cape and converted his old catboat to power,built a flying bridge and installed outriggers. The Boston newspapers began towrite about his catches, and business boomed. In '49 he bought a sportsfisherman in Fort Lauderdale, brought her north and renamed her Chantey II, andfor a while he tried to run two boats. "I had to give it up," he says."I couldn't stand someone else fishing my customers." Chantey III, a38-footer, was custom-built on the Cape in 1954, and not until then did Charliesell the old Crosby catboat. It was off her in 1948 that Dieter Dix, then ofthe University of Chicago, caught a 751-pounder that is still the largest tunaever brought aboard one of Mayo's boats. "That was a wonderful year,"says Charlie. "So good that boats from other areas began to move in, and Inever caught so many big tuna in my life. Two days after the 751-pounder, wecaught another that weighed 749½."
While otherfishermen were drifting their mackerel and herring down the slick of a chumline, or hounding the commercial drag boats that attract tuna to the trash fishdumped from their nets, Charlie Mayo was trolling. He has always believed thatthis is the sporting way to take big tuna. He has drifted baits from a kite andchummed and fished deep, too, when necessary, and he will do so today if he cancatch tuna no other way. But the most rewarding hours of Mayo's life are thosespent high on the flying bridge of Chantey III, cruising the Truro shore or thechop off Race Point or the waters outside Highland Light, the two big dieselsrumbling beneath him, outriggers spread and baits skipping in the water astern.Beneath the long-billed swordfisherman's cap that covers his shaggy, grayinghead, Charlie's eyes sweep the water for 360°, missing nothing, searching forbirds and whales and the smallest ripple that might lead him to big tuna fish.It is then that Charlie Mayo is as much hunter as fisherman, and it is thenthat he is at his best.
Mayo'spredilection for trolling for tuna stems from the characteristics of the fishitself. The sea has produced nothing so near hydrodynamic perfection; a bigbluefin is about as close to a ballistic missile with teeth as a fish can get.Its strike is a showering explosion of fury, followed by a screeching run of300, 400, sometimes 500 yards. But if the strike comes fathoms below the boat agreat deal of the fun and excitement escapes the angler. Never having seen hisprey, he can only watch the line disappear from the reel, fascinated at first,alarmed later, finally resigned to spending perhaps half a day pumping thegreat body out of the depths where it seeks to hide and where it seeks toreturn, after each run, with the determination of an elephant on its way to theburial ground. Not even Charlie Mayo will claim that a tuna approaches a bigmarlin for acrobatic entertainment, but he tries to fish in a way that forcesthe bluefin to approach on the surface, to strike on the surface and to fightmuch of its great fight on the surface.
Mayo has trolledeverything from plugs to bait to feathers to Ing's best hatband, fast and slow,near and far, from outrigger and straight back and in combinations of allkinds. There were days when he was tempted to troll one of his mates. Often thetuna would strike anything; at other times, even when the surface boiled withbig fish, nothing seemed to work. Until one day, testing, probing, trying,Charlie came upon the answer—and everything fell into place. "It was likemagic," he says. The solution was a series of varied, multiple skipbaits.
Whether otherswere working on the same system at the same time Charlie has no way of knowing.Off Wedgeport and in pursuit of big-eyed tuna off Chile, fishermen have longused strings of four or six or eight bait fish on one leader, sometimes as ateaser in conjunction with single baits on another line, sometimes as theprimary lure. But Mayo knew nothing of this, if indeed such experiments werebeing carried on elsewhere as long ago as 1937; to his own satisfaction, atleast, he fathered the device alone at that time. By 1940 he felt that it wasperfected and that all of the really pressing problems were solved; how manymultiple baits for each line, the type of bait and the correct combinations touse, how many lines, how far apart the baits should be, how fast to move themthrough the water, how to rig them for proper action, how to make the tunastrike the hooked bait in the series, how to insure that the baits ahead of thehook would pop off at the moment of strike so that no other tuna or shark wouldmake a pass at these now-useless appendages and sever the line.
"I began totake fish with the multiples when everything else failed," Mayo says.Through the years he has varied his techniques, as a fisherman will; he hashand-carved wooden plugs patterned after the multiple baits, and some of theseare gorgeous indeed, including a series decorated in pastels by one ofCharlie's Provincetown neighbors, the Butch painter Nanno de Groot. TwoGovernor's Trophy fish were caught on these artificials, and the NybergProducts Company now offers a line of rubber lures that are remarkably true tothe originals in action and detail. But Mayo feels that the baits he discoveredand perfected back in those days before the war are still the best. The primaryingredient is the squid, to man's eye at least one of the less attractivemorsels of the sea. In series with other squid or in combination with mackereland herring, however, this many-tentacled cephalopod is irresistible to a tuna,particularly when sewed and tied to one of Mayo's leaders with Aunt Lydia'sgreen carpet thread. So many spools of Aunt Lydia's carpet thread lie aroundChantey III that she sometimes looks less like a boat than a rug factory. Withthree lines trailing at varying distances, and with each line usually carryingfour baits of different combinations—although almost always anchored by asquid—the wake of Chantey must look like a 10-course dinner to a bigbluefin.
"It's awonderful thing to see," says Charlie. "We still get quite a few blindstrikes—I guess you can never eliminate that, nor would you want to,completely—but so often you see the fish approach, up the wake from deadastern. He's pushing water ahead of him like a miniature submarine. Then hebegins to move faster—and then he strikes. There's quite a commotion. A lot ofthings happen in a rather short time, and each time I get the same thrill as Idid with the first."
When rivalcharter boatmen moved into Cape Cod Bay after the war, their curiosity waspiqued, quite naturally, by Mayo's success, and in pursuit of the recipe theyconverged like a pack of wolves. Two Boston men entertained Charlie one morninguntil 2 a.m., hoping that something would slip on an olive. Nothing did.Strangers began to book charter on his boat, strangers with unusually sunburnednecks and fish scales under their nails. "I became a very suspiciousman," Mayo says. "Every customer was guilty until proved innocent. Ibegan to feel like J. Edgar Hoover." Other sports fishermen would run upChantey's wake, right on top of Mayo's baits, peering into the water withbinoculars like sightseers on a double-decker bus. "I had to stop the boatso often to let my baits sink out of sight that I hardly had time to fish,"he says. Once a Gloucester man hired a float plane and came swooping perilouslylow across the water from astern. "He was throttled back, and I didn't seehim until he passed the boat," says Charlie. "I almost fell off thebridge, I was so surprised. He circled around, looking down into the water, andof course it did me no good to slow the boat since he could see the baitsanyway. But I guess he must have been going too fast to be effective. So thefellow had the effrontery to land that seaplane right alongside me, and then hestepped out on one of the pontoons. I felt like ramming him. We just pulled thebaits in and left."
Mayo gives hismates a great deal of credit for protecting his secrets through the years. Mostof them were college boys: Henry Wallace was the son of the late editor of theLouisville Times; Rocky Holman graduated from Annapolis and became a commanderin the Navy; Nick Swords was another Naval Academy man; Gayle Charles of Yalelater served as a mate with Irving Johnson on the Yankee's around-the-worldcruise and eventually went into business in South Africa; Richard Strachanreceived a master's degree from MIT, where he now works as a metallurgist; BobWhite graduated from Wesleyan, went through the Rhode Island School of Designand now manages the children's art museum in Louisville. "There wereothers, and they were all loyal," says Mayo. His current mate, and a geniusat sewing and rigging a multiple skip bait, is Bob Tobin, a junior at BostonCollege. The mates in later years have always had a partner in Stormy, who isnow a sophomore at Dartmouth and, according to Charlie, "the best mate ofall." After graduation Stormy probably will become a marine biologist;already he is working with the scientists at Woods Hole, supplying them withthe eyes of big fish, particularly tuna, for a cornea-transplant program.
To Charlie themost amusing thing about all the cloak-and-dagger tactics surrounding hisbaiting system is that he would probably have been only too happy to pass hisdiscoveries along to others had they approached him in the proper way. This isexactly what he did with several favorite customers who owned boats of theirown. And this is what he finally did, unwittingly, to a fellow charter boatmanwho was no friend. A customer whom Mayo considered above suspicion came aboard.The man was allowed to watch the entire process. He also caught a big fish."Two days later I was listening on the radio telephone when a charterboatman out of Wellfleet got onto a big tuna. One of the draggers asked himwhat the fish hit. The man described one of my baits, perfectly. It seems thathe was a very close friend of my ex-customer."
With his emphasison the effectiveness of the multiple skip baits, Mayo is being unfair tohimself. The man and his knowledge are far more important than any one methodof taking fish. As much as it is given any man to know the habits of big tuna,Charlie Mayo knows what tides and what currents to work and what ledges andshoals they inhabit for miles around; he knows where they are most likely to bewith a fresh sou'wester sending a frothy chop against Chantey's bow; he knowswhere they run when the wind dies and the bay turns from gray to green to aniridescent blue. He has developed an ecology of the tuna, its relations withwhales and sharks and birds.
"Phalaropesand petrels mean nothing, I have decided," he says, "but a particularcombination of shearwaters and terns means big fish. I look for sharks lying onthe surface. It's normal to assume that tuna are the prey of sharks, whenactually the relationship is almost the other way around. A giant tuna has onlyone real enemy, the killer whale; he is much too fast and powerful for a shark.Frequently you will find a big blue shark being taunted by tuna, who seem todelight in making passes at his tail. Under certain conditions I also look fortuna alongside finback and humpback whales. The whale is smart enough tocapitalize on the confusion that occurs when tuna attack a school of bait fish.It is almost as if he were using the tuna to herd his prey."
With all hisskill, however, Charlie Mayo has never been able to catch a tuna weighing morethan 800 pounds, certainly nothing close to the world rod-and-reel record, a977-pounder hauled in by Commander Duncan Hodgson of Montreal in St. Ann Bay,Nova Scotia, on a September day in 1950. He has caught a number of tunaweighing more than 700 pounds and once caught three 600-pounders in one day.But always the monster fish eludes him. "I almost had him once,"Charlie says, "a fish that might have weighed 1,200 pounds."
It happened twosummers ago. "I was watching one of the multiples, when suddenly the wholestring disappeared," Charlie says. "There was no strike; it was morelike some huge fish had opened its mouth to create a vacuum and suck the baitsin. That's probably what happened. The fish didn't run like a tuna. He wentstraight down. Then he came back up. 'Probably a big mako,' I thought. Beforehe reached the surface, he turned and went down again. Then he came up oncemore—and this time he came out of the water. Lord, what a fish. The biggesttuna I've ever seen.
"He was wellover 10 feet long, and the section just ahead of his tail was a series ofabnormally big knobs, like the fingers of an arthritic old man. JohnWorthington later told me that the 1,000-pounder caught in their nets back inthe '30s had this same deformity or growth on its tail. Anyway, he was huge. Hehad to weigh well over 1,000 pounds. We had him on for 35 minutes, and hesurfaced three times. The last time I knew we were going to lose him. He hadthe 15-foot leader and most of the double line wrapped around him, and it wasjust a matter of time before he broke off.
"I didn'tfeel too bad about it, strangely enough. Where there is one fish that size,there must be others. And maybe he'll come back some day—if he hasn't died ofold age."
Because he hopesto catch a fish this size before he quits and because, like most charterboatmen, he frequently fishes beginners, Mayo has never been a noisy advocateof light tackle. He carries light equipment on the boat and once used itextensively on school fish, but seldom anymore. He has learned with experience.One day a New York housewife named Louise Schwartz was aboard with a party offriends. Charlie located a school of 150-pounders and Mrs. Schwartz wasprevailed upon to take her turn in the chair. No sooner was she seated than abig tuna came in and gobbled up the bait.
"She foughthim for half an hour," Charlie remembers, "and then she said she'd hadenough, that someone else could bring him in. Well, naturally, we discouragethat sort of thing. "If you don't want him, I'll cut him off,' I told her.You know women; this stiffened her backbone and she stayed with him. She foughthim for 9½ hours on that light tackle and a couple of times had him up closeenough for us to get a good look. That fish would have been a world record forwomen; we all agreed that it weighed more than 900 pounds, and a plane that wasflying over, watching us, thought so too. Finally, just when the leader wasalmost to the boat, he broke off.
"When we gotback to the dock, everyone in town was there. The plane had called thenewspapers, and they all wanted stories. Mrs. Schwartz just said, "Look,all I want to do is get home to my children. I never want to see another fishagain,' and she left.
"Four dayslater she called me up. 'I have some friends I'd like to take out,' she said.'I don't want to fish, but I do enjoy the boat ride and the scenery, and theother day I was so busy with the blamed fish I didn't get to see a thing.' So Ifound a spot for them and they all went out, the friends fishing away andLouise riding with me up on the bridge. And first thing you know we got into aschool of tuna again.
"They triedto get Louise to fish, but she said no. Then they began to kid her, telling herthat she had never really caught a tuna, and that these small ones were easy tocatch. So finally she goes down. And what do you know. Bam! This big one, about600 pounds, comes boiling up, shouldering those school fish aside, and he grabsher bait. And off we go again. She fought this fish six hours before he droppedoff. Can you imagine that? She was on big tuna for more than 15 hours and whatdid she have to show for it? Not even a scale. So I don't use light tackle muchanymore."
If there is onething that endears Charlie Mayo to the fishermen who charter him, it is hisfanatical determination that they catch fish. When every other boat is back inport, tied down for the night, Mayo is often still fishing—even when thecustomers want to go home, too. A long day without fish is a challenge, afavorite client who gets skunked a calamity that Charlie can hardly bear. Hislongest fight with a tuna stemmed from such a situation.
Dr. Stan Eldred,a Massachusetts psychiatrist, had been out with Mayo before. He had caught anumber of fish up to 200 pounds but never a real giant. Once, while fishing anew rod and reel full of fresh line, Eldred noticed a less experienced angler,Dr. Peter Halberg of New York, using older equipment. He offered to exchange,Dr. Halberg accepted—and a few minutes later hooked into a 600-pound tuna thatwas to win the 1956 Governor's Trophy. So a couple of years later, when a500-pounder hit Eldred's bait one day shortly after lunch, Charlie wasdetermined to get the fish in.
"He was abrute, though," Mayo says. "Tuna this size frequently fight harder thanthe larger ones, and this fellow was just as tough as they come. He ran towarda drag boat and went underneath her. Then he went for another. And, by golly,if he didn't run under a third. It was a miracle the line didn't catch on oneof those keels, but each time it slipped free, and finally Stan stopped him andhe went down. I was worried about that line, so we eased off the drag andplayed him as lightly as we could. When we finally regained enough line to seewhere he had run under those draggers, there was red paint all over the thing.So we decided to ease off the drag some more. By then it was dark, but Stanwanted to fish and I did, too.
"We foughthim all night. We were just off Race Point when he struck. He took us aboutseven or eight miles north, and then he turned and headed toward HighlandLight. We went with him for another seven miles or so, bringing him close tothe boat several times but unable to hold him there. And just at dawn hedecided to run up on shore. He went over the Peaked Hill Bar and into a slough,and I either had to go with him or lose him. I wasn't sure the Chantey couldmake it, but we just scraped across. That crazy fish went right up into thebreakers on the beach and then he turned and headed for deep water again. Iknew we couldn't afford to let him go down anymore—the line would never standthe strain of pumping him up again—so I pushed everything forward and managedto head him off. We went back and forth in that shallow water for another hour,the boat between the fish and the ocean, and finally we wore him out. That tunawas on for 19 hours, and Stan never once left the chair.
"When wereached the dock, my next party was waiting to go out. So we put Stan and hisfish ashore, loaded up these people and off we went. We caught a fish thatafternoon that weighed more than 600 pounds and we brought him to gaff in 45minutes."
Charlie Mayohopes that such moments as these, the kind to make memories for a man who lovesbig fish and the sea, will never disappear from his life, and that Stormy andStormy's children will be able to live them, too. But he is worried. In recentyears commercial fishermen have introduced the purse seine to Cape Cod Bay, andit is not inconceivable to Mayo that someday the great tuna will be there nomore. "These men have set their seine around me while I was fighting afish," he says, "and with one setting they can clean out an entireschool. I realize that they have a right to make a living, too, but some thingsmust be held sacred in this life of ours. A man's right to catch a big fish onrod and reel is one of them.
"They aregoing to make part of Cape Cod a national park, and I feel that the waters offCape Cod, at least on the bay side, should be included in the program. The trapfishermen are all right; they have been here for more than a hundred years,long before the sports fishermen, and in all that time they haven't decimatedthe schools. But don't think that it isn't possible for the seiners to cleanout every tuna in Cape Cod Bay in a couple of seasons. Some people believe thatthe supply of migratory fish such as the tuna is inexhaustible. Well, I don'tfeel that way. I know better. Already there are fewer school fish than everbefore.
"IfMassachusetts or the Federal Government will close the bay to the seiners fromCape Cod Canal to a point opposite Race Point, then the commercial men can haveeverything else around—and there's a lot of ocean out there. Then we can alllive together in peace, and men who want to angle for big tuna will still havetheir chance. If I quit the charter boat business tomorrow, I would still feelthe same way. I'm just one man, and I don't count. But the fish count. They areimportant to a lot of people besides Charlie Mayo."
It is quitepossible, however, that they are more important to Charlie Mayo than to anyoneelse. When the big tuna are gone, in the fall, and Stormy leaves for Dartmouth,Charlie and Ing leave, too—Ing to set up housekeeping for the winter in FortLauderdale, Charlie to skipper the Little James, a 65-foot yacht belonging toMrs. John Brooks of New York, through the warm waters of Florida and theislands to the south. It is a pleasant life; the Cape is cold and lonely withthe big fish gone. But Charlie begins to itch when April rolls around.
"I'm usuallyback on the Cape by May," he says. "The tuna don't arrive until lateJune, but there's a lot of work to be done first. And sometimes they arriveearly. I just like to be there when they come around."