Why did Timothy and Phillip need to catch a mussel first in the novel, The Cay?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    Needless to say, Timothy and Phillip never expected to spend the many months together as they did on the little stretch of sand and trees in the Theodore Taylor novel, The Cay. Timothy managed to stretch out and then replenish their supply of fresh water, and they even saved part of their precious chocolate until the storm, but their biscuits disappeared quickly. Catching fish and other food from the sea was essential, and since Phillip's blindness prevented him from seeing his prospective catch, Timothy knew that he would need assistance in the future.     
    Shortly before the story, Timothy showed Phillip a new "coral-walled pool" with a sandy bottom that would serve as a most substantial fishing hole. Along the sides, mussels attached themselves to the reef.

    "Now, reach downg 'ere," Timothy said, "an' tug off d'mussel."
    ... Then he told me to feel the hook and slip the mussel bait over the barb. I'd fished many times with my father and this was easy.
    ... I was learning to do things all over again, by touch and feel.

    Timothy was teaching Phillip to use the mussels as bait in a way in which even a blind boy could succeed.