An old Cuban fisherman (Spencer Tracy) has not caught anything in 84 days. Despite the devotion of the young boy (Felipe Pazos) who brings him coffee and food, the fisherman fears he has become perpetually unlucky. On his 85th day of fishing, the old man catches a small fish and decides to keep fishing. When one of his multiple fishing lines hooks a large marlin, he decides to not return to shore until he reels in the fish. For two days and nights, the man sits alone, waiting to redeem himself.