With the whole world shut down due to a pandemic and life on the cusp of a possible apocalypse it’s pretty difficult to keep ones sanity. We’ve all seen the social media challenges: “See a fish, send a fish”, “Push-up challenge”, “Baby face” and many more. I personally need a little more than social media challenges to make sure I don’t go mad and raid the CDC. So what does my Groundhogs Day look like?
Many weeks ago, when this first started, I traded my bikini for long sleeved sun protection and gave myself a new goal. While out looking for the usual garbage hanging in the mangroves I was going to teach myself how to have a respectable cast and learn how to fish on my own. The beginning of this wasn’t easy. I spent more time in the mangroves retrieving my own line than I did picking up other peoples stray casts, and I said more curse words than a Tarantino movie. Life was rough and unrewarding.
Slowly things started to change. I spent time learning to tie knots and practicing my casting then all of a sudden I wasn’t hooking only mangrove branches, but also reds. Each day out on the water has been a new lesson and memorable journey. I’ve learned how to cast from my board and reel in a fish while managing to stay upright. I’ve learned how to tie knots in the dark and how to hold a fish. Most of these things have been through trial and error, some through dumb luck. My biggest moment was just the other day.
During low tide I was floating out in the bay. I saw a red tailing and decided to risk sight casting to it. Now previously, every time I’ve sight casted to a fish, I’ve scared off every living thing in the vicinity. This time, I made the perfect cast. The DOAlanded softly just where I wanted and caught the attention of the red. Within seconds I was hooked and then realized I had a new dilemma. I have a monster red on the end of my line and I’m nowhere near mangroves to slow it down. We took off on a wild ride together until he eventually grew tired. Normally I am able to steer the smaller fish towards the shallows so I can hop off my board and get hold of the fish. So how am I going to get this monster on my board while not flipping it? Pure dumb luck and strategery (yes it’s spelled like that). My board is 30″ across and this fish just exceeded that by a few inches. A quick few pictures and then back into the water to keep getting bigger.
My second favorite fish tale from my Quarantine Diaries is my first snook. I was making a few casts towards the mangroves as I was making my way to the channel when BAM!! The line takes off screaming. “This is different,” I think “this isn’t a red.” I started careening toward the mangroves and decide to jump off my board, I can always get it back later. Several minutes later I get my first glimpse of the fish. A bright flash of silver and unmistakable black line, “it’s a snook!” I scream out loud to myself. I continue reeling in the fish trying to avoid the mangrove roots and shallows until finally she grows tired. As I get ready to grab her I realize, I don’t know how to hold a snook. Well, I’ve always heard people saying they will suck on your thumb so I go with the mouth as a safe option. I spend a few moments marveling at the fish and snapping a few pictures. Seconds later, she is back in the water and quickly swimming away from me.
What’s next? My Abel reel is unfortunately delayed because Colorado doesn’t think they’re an essential business (wtf). But I’ll continue practicing my cast so I stop looking like a kid whacking at a piñata.