The Fishing Trip

Larry Appleton


© Copyright 2011 by Larry Appleton                                                                        



Photo of a man holding up a red grouper.

It was the biggest fish I had ever seen. The Cobia that my father brought home was bigger than me! I studied the fish in detail, noting the huge dead eye, which seemed to be looking back at me. I couldn’t wait for dinner that night and the story my father would tell about the big fish.

I was only twelve years old when my father brought that fish home from one of the many fishing trips he took. I had always wanted to go with him, but was too afraid to ask. What if he didn’t want to take me? It would be a terrible blow to ask and not be invited, or to be invited and ruin the trip by getting sick. Fishing in streams around our property was tame and even catching plentiful Catfish in the nearby lake offered little challenge compared to what my mind told me would be the adventure of bringing in BIG fish from the ocean. I made my mind up and decided to ask him after he told his story.

That evening, after everyone was finished with dinner, I asked my father to tell us about the big fish he caught. He began his story by telling us that at first, he wasn’t catching very many fish and was becoming disappointed. He added that the other fishermen weren’t catching much either and after an hour, the fishermen began muttering about the poor fishing conditions. He and the others were happy when the whistle blew, indicating the skipper was moving to a different area. After twenty minutes, the boat slowed down and dropped anchor. My father told us that almost immediately after dropping his line in the water he got a big hit. He waited for the fish to hit again and when it did, he yanked on the rod to sink the hook. He explained that at first, the fish didn’t run, it just sat there. He mentioned that the deck hand jokingly told him he had hooked the drain plug on the bottom of the ocean. When the fish did decide to run, the deck hand hurried to clear the area around him. He told us that the fish took him fifteen minutes to bring it to the surface. The deck hand, realizing how big the fish was, had to get a gaffing hook to bring it on board. My father finished the story by complaining how much his muscles hurt from all the work. Now was my chance.

Nervously, I asked my Dad if I could go along with him on the next trip.

“Of course you can," he replied. “We’ll go next weekend."

I was very excited and couldn’t think about anything else that week. The night before the trip, I barely got any sleep before the alarm woke me at three o'clock in the morning. It was time to get ready.

The road trip to the ocean took about two hours. We had about thirty minutes before the skipper would cast off, so we went to a local diner for breakfast. My father explained that a good breakfast would help with any nausea caused by the roller coaster pitching of the boat. He also advised me to wear a patch to control any nausea I might experience on my first trip on the ocean. Finishing our breakfast we returned to the marina.
We bought some supplies at the shop and walked down a long pier leading out to where the boats were docked. It had rained the night before and rivulets of water were cascading down into the marina. Looking down at the water, I could see small fish darting in and out of the watercress that lined the shore. The water in the causeway was absolutely still except for the undulant ripples caused by the rainwater runoff. This in turn made the otherwise perfect reflections of the surroundings to dance wildly on top of the water. We approached a large boat with the name Capt’n Stacey, emblazoned on the bow.

“This is the boat we are taking," my father stated.

We loaded our gear onto the boat, picking a place near the rear. My father told me that this was the best place to fish from. Other fishermen were loading their gear as well while we prepared to cast off. When the foghorn blew, we began to head out to sea.

How far do we have to go? I asked my father.

“About fifty nautical miles," he replied. “It will take a couple of hours, so sit back and enjoy the trip," he added.

I asked if I could walk out to the bow and watch from there.

“You can if you want," he said, "but you might get wet”.

I went topside and to the front of the boat to enjoy the ride. As the boat began to pick up speed, the sunder effect of the bow, sent water cresting high into the air on either side of the boat. Occasionally the water splashed over the bow and soaked me thoroughly. I started to get cold; this was compounded by the wind, so I wandered back to the galley to dry off. The sound of the loud engines died down as we approached our first fishing spot.

The foghorn sounded, telling the fishermen they could now drop their lines into the water. At first, we started catching two or three-pound fish, however, the fish got larger as we continued to move farther out. I felt a big hit on my line and instinctively yanked at the rod. This fish was much larger than the others, I could tell. I struggled for a long time trying to bring the fish to the surface. When it finally did surface, I could not believe my eyes, it was a large Red Grouper, a prize catch! My father congratulated me and we continued to fish for the rest of the day. I really enjoyed myself, and had a great fish story of my own to tell.

I continued to go fishing with my father on weekends and we always had a good time. After he passed away I continued to go, sometimes alone and other times with friends. However, I really missed the good times my father and I had. Now that I’m older, I don’t go as often, and yet when I do go fishing, I usually come back home with a fish story to tell my family.

Returning home from one such trip, I related my experience at the family dinner. When I was done my twelve-year-old son, in a nervous voice asked,

“Dad can I go with you the next time?"

"Of course you can, I replied. We’ll go next weekend."

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