The boatman told us we'd reached a good spot, and he brought the boat to a stop and lowered the anchor. Red Shirt asked him how deep the water was, and he replied about 10 meters. Red Shirt threw in a line and remarked that snapper would be a challenge in 10-meter water. So the old fellow had his sights set high and intended to pull in a snapper. Noda cast in his own line and fawned at Red Shirt that with his skill, and with this calm sea, he was sure to get his snapper. There was just a lead sinker at the ends of their lines, no bobber. Fishing without a bobber was like measuring the temperature without a thermometer. I saw no point in even trying, but they told me to give it a go and asked if I had line. I answered that I had plenty of line but no bobber, and I was informed that bobbers were only for novice fishermen. "Like this. When your line reaches the bottom, place your index finger underneath and rest it against the side of the boat. Then carefully monitor the tension."
"Got one!" Red Shirt suddenly began reeling in his line. I thought he had something, but the line came up empty, missing its bait. Served him right. Then Noda chimed in with his usual quirky chatter. "Most unfortunate, and it was surely a big one. If they're escaping from a master then we'll have to be especially diligent today. On the other hand, better to lose one the hard way than stare mindlessly at a bobber. Those who use bobbers are like the folks who can't ride a bicycle unless it's equipped with brakes." At this point I was just about ready to pummel him. As a human being I had the same right to the sea as Red Shirt. It's a big place. A bonito or such would surely bite on my line out of common courtesy. With that I dropped in my line and sinker and went through the motion of gaging the tension with my fingertip.