"Have you ever caught a squid before?", an old man smiled at me when I brought him a squid jig and politely asked him if he could assemble it so my friend and I can go fishing.
It was a sunny winter day on a small island and there was almost no wind. The weather was so lovely, it felt like it was calling us to go on a little squid-hunting adventure.
My friend was older than me and had both a boat and an assembled squid jig, so all we needed was one more jig and we could go.
I asked my father if he knew how to assemble it, but he replied he hasn't done that in a long time and that I should ask Tiho,
an old man who was known as one of the best fishermen in the village. I went to his house and found him in his basement, sitting on a worn chair, preparing one of his fishing nets for the night.
"Umm... No, I haven't caught one yet", I replied. I was 10 and this was a pretty embarrassing moment for me, so I answered the question with my face staring at the floor.
Tiho smiled again and jokingly said: "You haven't? How come? I thought you had caught at least 20 in your life!"
I didn't reply, I was a very shy kid and the simple act of asking the man if he could assemble a squid jig presented a big challenge for me.
"It doesn't matter! No one is born a fisherman! Give it to me, and I'll see what I can do!"
He put his oversized glasses on and started working on the jig. Assembling it demands a steady hand.
You first need to pull a fishing line through a small pinhole and than make a special fishing knot that Tiho knew best how to make. I was watching him as he was working.
His hands were wrinkled and looked like they've been through a lot, but his technique was that of a young man. In less than 5 minutes, my jig was assembled and ready to go.
I thanked him and started walking out when he stopped me.
"Not so fast, young fisherman! You told me you had never caught a squid before and I assume your friend also isn't very experienced at catching them."
He then grabbed a chair from the corner of the basement, put it next to the one he was sitting on and told me to sit down.
"Before you and your friend go fishing, I would like to teach you some important things so that you two don't mess anything up on your first day."
He then took my jig and pointed at it, "You see, there is a reason this jig looks like a fish with sharp needles on the bottom.
Catching squid is really about tricking them into believing that what they are looking at is a fish.
Keep in mind that these animals are not stupid, if you don't know the right technique, they won't even approach it.
So, after you throw the jig into the see, you need to unwind the fishing line and let the jig touch the seafloor.
Once you feel the jig is no longer falling, grab the line and pull it about one or two meters from the seafloor and then every minute or so, pull the jig up and then quickly let it down.
This way, a squid will fall for your trick and grab your jig.
Once you feel the squid has grabbed your jig, start pulling it upwards and after you pull it out of the sea, throw it immediately in some bucket so that it doesn't sprinkle you with its ink."
After explaining all the important things, he looked at me and asked me if I understood everything he said.
"Yes, Mr. Tiho", I replied enthusiastically.
He started smiling again and said: "Great, now go and show me what you have caught when you return!"
I thanked him again and started walking out. When I got outside, my friend was already in his boat. He waved at me and yelled: "Hurry up, let's go!"
We set sail around 3 pm. As we were coming out of the port, I was looking at the open sea, hoping I would make Mr. Tiho proud.