What was used as bait in The Old Man and the Sea?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The old man uses a large hook which is inserted into a bait fish.  The bait fish is fairly large; on the day he goes after the big fish, he has four lines, two baited with fresh small tunas that the boy has secured for him, one with a big blue runner, and the last with a yellow jack.  Both the blue runner and the yellow jack had been used before, "but they were in good condition still", and so could be used again.  The bait fish hangs head down from the shank of the hook, and the parts of the hook which protrude outside of the bait are covered with fresh sardines.  Each sardine is "hooked thorugh both eyes so that they (make) a half-garland on the projecting steel".  No part of the hook is left exposed; to the great fish, the entire device would be "sweet smelling and good tasting".

The baited hooks are attached securely each to a line "as thick around as a big pencil".  These lines are looped onto green-sapped sticks so that any touch on the bait would make the stick dip obviously.  Each line has two forty-fathom coils which could be made fast to the other spare coils.  In this way, if it were necessary, "a fish could take out over three hundred fathoms of line".

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The Old Man and the Sea

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