Jump to content

"Dad, this is the best fishing day EVER!"


Recommended Posts

Posted this over on NC Angler, but since nobody else is posting up reports here, thought I'd try to generate some activity!

A wise man once told me that the key to happiness is low expectations. I had proof of that this morning on a dawn patrol session with my second oldest son.

The morning started with my wife nudging me out of a sound sleep, "Aren't you going fishing with Gabriel today?" I cracked one bleary eye open and realized that I hadn't set the alarm. I was 15 minutes late for what was supposed to be a 5:30 wake up. Not good, since the tide was already going to limit our time in the marsh. I leapt/fell out of bed, stumbled through my pre-dawn fishing routine, and rousted my son out of bed. 

I could already feel that awful sense of "this day isn't starting out right and it's probably going to get worse". I tried to ignore it.

We managed to make up a few minutes and got to the ramp a little after 6. It was already a little lighter than I wanted it to be, but I tried not to think about how fast the water was rushing out. My son sat contentedly in the seat next to me, sipping his coffee and blissfully ignorant of the hell I was putting myself through. I'm still learning the areas of the marsh, but I knew enough to realize that if it dropped below a certain point, I would be spending the next 6 hours as gnat food and likely find myself unemployed if I survived.

We entered the marsh and, as expected, we had enough water, but it was running out of there in a heck of a hurry. Impatient to get started, I dropped the trolling motor and started working a bank sooner than I expected to get action. On my third cast, I heard that awful sound of a braided line knot shooting through my guides. I tried to ignore it. On my fifth cast, I heard TWO braided line knots shoot out of the guides. I reeled in enough line to see that I had knitted a nice Christmas sweater without ever touching the line. 

Insert expletives. There was no untangling it, and the line snapped in my futile attempt. Time was ticking away and I was stuck retying leader. I HATE retying leaders.

"Dad, I had a bite!" I looked up just in time to see a bulge form behind my son's topwater. 

"Keep it moving, don't stop, DON'T STOP!"

He stopped the lure . . . I'm trying to not to blow a gasket. It's his fish to lose, it's his fish to lose, it's just a fish. . . 

He started the retrieve again and the fish came back, pushing a bow wave that had my heart fluttering.

"Don't set the hook till you feel him!" My advice was like water off a duck's back. The fish swirled and the lure came flying back at us at mach 2. Again, I swallowed the scolding that was trying to leap from my throat. He's only 8 he's only 8, he's only 8, he's only 8. It's just a fish, its just a fish, it's just a fish.

"Dad! Did you see that?? That was AWESOME!!!!" Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my soul, the dark storm clouds that were gathering began to part. What was this happiness he was feeling???? He MISSED THE FISH!!!! What is WRONG with this boy and . . . and HOW do I get some of that???

A few casts later (of his) later, I finally got my leader tied back on. I make a cast and am relieved to hear the line sizzle smoothly through the guides. I've been having an issue with my braided line knotting up and it's driving me NUTS. I cast again, and as I'm retrieving, I see a bulge form behind my lure. FINALLY!!! Come to papa, come to papa, just hit the lure, come on, fish, EAT IT. EEEEEAAAAATTTT ITTTTTTTT!! 

The fish turned away. DARN IT!!!!!!!!!! What is with these fish???? COME ON!!!

My son shoots a cast in the general direction of where my fish was, but as he casts I hear a dreadful sound of a massive birds nest popping through the guides. His lure falls 10 feet away. 

You have to be kidding me! THIS ISN'T how it's supposed to happen!!! 

"Dad . . . "

"I know, son, give me the rod. I'll fix it, you take mine."

He casts while I throw a mental temper tantrum, swearing silently as I break the line at the knot and re-tie. By the time I finish, the tide has dropped 6 inches and the fish are gone.

We move on.

We ease up to another bank and my son fires a cast into a little bay. Before the lure hits, the water erupts into a massive splash. I've seen hits on impact before . . . but this was BEFORE the impact. . .

"Well, there's a fish" he says calmly, as if this happens all the time. 

"It's hooked??? You sure?"

"Yep!" And to prove it, a bend forms in his rod and his drag starts complaining. But Redfish don't jump . . . After a brief battle, everything becomes clear. He pulls in a tail-hooked mullet. Apparently, it was doing it's mullet-jumping-for-no-reason-thing just as his lure was landing and the two managed to connect. It was a heck of a cast.

But it wasn't a Redfish . . . 

"Dad, that was AWESOME!!!!"

We worked the bank a little further and I missed another Redfish bite. The time was running out with the tide and I was getting that sinking feeling that it was going to be a pole cat kind of morning. 

I hate pole cats. 

My son managed to land two pinfish on topwater, which annoyed me, but seemed to delight him to no end. 

"Dad, this is the best fishing day EVER!! We caught Mullet, we caught pinfish, I mean, we caught just about everything there is besides Redfish. And Trout. And Flounder, I guess. But it's been so much fun!!"

The small break in the storm clouds in my soul suddenly expanded, burning away the mist. I looked around and suddenly realized what I couldn't see before. The morning was perfect. The wind was light, enough to keep the bugs off, but not enough to hassle the boat. The temperature was comfortable. The scenery was exceptional. The fish were active. There were bait schools everywhere. I was with my son, fishing, before work, on a boat I love to spend time on.

What is WRONG with me?? How did I miss this??

The next half hour was perfect. We eased along the bank and didn't get a single bite, but enjoyed each other's company and the prospect of that unexpected explosion kept us going. I stopped worrying about the tide. I stopped worrying about putting him on a fish. I lowered my expectations and let them be massively exceeded. Life is good.

And then, on my last few casts, I saw the tiniest little splash and watched my topwater lure disappear below the surface. A pinfish, but heck, it's a bite, right?

Except, it wasn't a pinfish. My drag started screaming, my heart started pounding, and we fought that 26" redfish all the way back to the boat. 

There's nothing kinder that God does for us than to lower our expectations and, once lowered, exceed them in the most unexpected ways.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Just read this Gus while at work between calls.  That's awesome the way a child can change the way we think and see things.  I hope you get to experience that again and again before they get to old to have those moments.  My youngest is 15 this month and she loves to fish so I am hoping to get my first MA soon.  My other two are 16 and 19 both of which  grew up in the electronic age and I blew that.  But once I have my newer bigger boat, we will be enjoying time out on it.  At least that 's my plan.  


Thanks for the read and allowing me to live through your experiences for now...  Please keep them coming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...