Throughout my years, especially in my youth, my father and I didn’t see eye to eye on much. We argued a lot and still argue to this day, actually. Sure, we liked sports and had the same favorite football team but there was nothing that brought us together like fishing.
He is more of a inshore fisherman. Dad liked to fish rivers mostly. That was what he grew up with and was taught by his father. Getting in an old green painted, plywood boat that would hold 3 people safely. This was their weekend, weekday and whenever activity.
Dad taught my brother and I those skills. I learned how to make the best knot for the size of line, the best spots to catch certain fish and the best times of day. It even came down to what sort of weather was best for bass or brim. Filleting and cooking was next obviously. Frying was always the preferred method. These are skills that are still with me and that I share with my kids.
I didn’t take to the freshwater fishing like he did, though. For me, the saltwater was were my heart was at. Fishing on the surf or a pier was my home with a rod and reel. Dad liked it too but not like freshwater. Still, we had fun. That was what I remembered the most. Hitting the surf of Pine Knoll Shores, and throwing out lines in the hopes of pulling in some bluefish. Typical catches were spot, mullet or the occasional pompano as they make their way south. Sometimes, we get a flounder or even a ray. The blues were harder to catch and a tougher fight. One time when I hooked one, dad was watching along, I spent 10 mins reeling it in. The tide was in my favor or that would have been a tougher fight.
My father enjoyed that more than fishing, to be honest. He loved to catch the fish and often we threw back what we caught because of the smaller size. However, he enjoyed watching his sons fish, whether we caught anything or not. To be able to go out there and be with him was like sharing a triumph. One such time was when he, my brother and I caught nearly 20 fish in one day. Each of us catching a black drum and several large spots and mullets. We found new piers and we had great success in time. It allowed us time to talk, to share techniques and to relax.
The secret of those trips weren’t the fish we’d catch or didn’t catch. The secret was that we were able to do something together that we both enjoyed. So, I think that as I am now passing that on to my daughters and I remember how my dad passed the joys on to me, I can smile.
The sad thing is now that he is reaching 80 and he uses a cane more and more, maybe those days of surf fishing for him are done. Sure he can watch and maybe he’ll enjoy that. I wonder, however, if I will. I’ll come to that point too one day but for now I’ll enjoy the memories that I have and continue fishing like he taught me. Maybe, there will be one last cast for us soon or maybe that has come and gone with little fanfare. I think he’d want it like that anyway.