Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fish Tales

I was lucky enough to spend a day fishing with my father off the coast of North Carolina the other week. They say a bad day spent fishing is still better than a day spent at the office, and it's true. Not that we had a bad day at all.

We left Poquoson around 2 am to drive all the way down to the Oregeon Inlet Fishing Center on the Outer Banks. I had woken up around 1:20 am to the improbable smell of bacon and a growling stomach. I dismissed the bacon smell as simply leftover aroma from the fried okra we had for dinner. Little did I know Dad had been up before midnight and had already had his breakfast of bacon and eggs. Luckily there were a few strips of bacon left so I could have a BLT sandwich on the road. I love a good BLT, but this one was tastier than usual because my subconsciousness had been smelling bacon for more than an hour before I woke up.

The roads were dark and mostly empty at 2 am. We spied some deer and what were probably foxes on the roadside along the way in those early morning hours, along with an unbelievable number of police cruisers. Apparently some of the towns on the road down to the Outer Banks fund most of their civic activities through speeding tickets during the summer months. We arrived at the docks a little after 5 am and were on the charter boat headed offshore around 5:30 am.

We didn't catch too many fish that day, but neither did anyone else. Our boat pulled in three sailfish, a couple of dolphins (that's the atlantic dolphin, similar to mahimahi in the Pacific and not related to Flipper at all, so don't anyone get their panties in a wad over this), and one yellowfin tuna.

Theresa enjoying her tuna

Yes, the sea offshore really is that gorgeous shade of marine blue.

The fishing report for August 19 from Oregon Inlet Fishing Center stated, "Offshore boats caught and released 29 sailfish, 10 white marlin and 2 blue marlin. Tuna cosisted mostly of blackfins with one good size yellowfin. Some good dolphin catches were made with several wahoos." Read that about the yellowfin? Now there may have been someone else who caught a yellowfin that day, but I know I pulled one in. Mind you it wasn't a big tuna, probably only about 20 pounds, but it was a fun 10 minutes to pull him in and it was the only tuna we got that day, and boy was it tasty the next night.


But mostly this trip was about spending a day with my dad. There were two other fathers with their children on the boat with us. I say "children" loosely, as Chris was in high school and Samantha was in college, and I'm about to start pushing 40 in another month or two. Although the waves were rough at first, the weather was simply beautiful and we spent the day in good conversation, eating more snack food than we normally would, and taking short naps inside the cabin. Catching the fish was fun, but I really enjoyed watching the fathers take pride in seeing their own kids catch fish. As soon as a fish was hooked, someone would shout into the cabin so we nappers could rush out and watch someone else land it. Once in my teens I would have been wanted to bring in all the fish myself, but now it's just as much fun to watch someone else have fun with it. Age will teach you that, I guess.

Pelican Crew, Aug. 2009

I don't even remember my first fishing trip with him, but I've heard the story about how one time I was out with Dad and my grandfather, who accidently dropped the tackle box overboard and cursed. Apparently I cheerfully chanted "Damn! Damn! Damn!" for the rest of the day, much to the bewilderment of my mother after we got home. I'm guessing I was probably around 5 years old at the time and that might not have been the first time I had been out in the boat. There's been many a trip since then, mostly for croaker and flounder, and sometimes clamming in Poquoson or netting crabs off the footers of the James River Bridge. But as I got older the trips were less frequent, and then I went to grad school and maybe went fishing only once every couple of years. I'm not sure why I haven't tried to go more often over the past decade. After all, I do like being on a boat and I enjoy fishing with my father. All I can say is that I regret we haven't had the chance to spend a day on the water with him more often lately, and I hope we get to go fishing together more often from now on. (Plus I want to catch another tuna.)

Me 'n Dad Fishing, Aug 2009

No comments: