Copyright 2011 by Larry Appleton
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
is the boat we are taking," my father stated.
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
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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