Before it was really light he had his baits out and was drifting with the current.
One bait was down forty fathoms.
The second was at seventy-five and the third and fourth were down in the blue water at one hundred and one hundred and twenty-five fathoms.
Each bait hung head down with the shank of the hook inside the bait fish, tied and sewed solid and all the projecting part of the hook,
the curve and the point, was covered with fresh sardines.
Each sardine was hooked through both eyes so that they made a half-garland on the projecting steel.
There was no part of the hook that a great fish could feel which was not sweet smelling and good tasting.
The boy had given him two fresh small tunas, or albacores,
which hung on the two deepest lines like plummets and, on the others, he had a big blue runner and a yellow jack that had been used before;
but they were in good condition still and had the excellent sardines to give them scent and attractiveness.
Each line, as thick around as a big pencil,
was looped onto a green-sapped stick so that any pull or touch on the bait would make the stick dip and each line had two forty-fathom coils which could be made fast to the other spare coils so that,
if it were necessary, a fish could take out over three hundred fathoms of line.
Now the man watched the dip of the three sticks over the side of the skiff and rowed gently to keep the lines straight up and down and at their proper depths.
In a moment now the sun would rise.
The sun rose thinly from the sea and the old man could see the other boats, low on the water and well in toward the shore, spread out across the current.
Then the sun was brighter and the glare came on the water and then, as it rose clear,
the flat sea sent it back at his eyes so that it hurt sharply and he rowed without looking into it.
He looked down into the water and watched the lines that went straight down into the dark of the water.
He kept them straighter than anyone did, so that at each level in the darkness of the stream there would be a bait waiting exactly where he wished it to be for any fish that swam there.
Others let them drift with the current and sometimes they were at sixty fathoms when the fishermen thought they were at a hundred.
But, he thought, I keep them with precision.
Only I have no luck any more. But who knows? Maybe today.
Every day is a new day.
It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.