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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Ones That Didn't Get Away - My First Fish

I never did get it, the stories told by anglers of the ones that got away. Where's the story in, "I hooked this fish...but it got away."

By the time I was six I was using a hand-line, catching small fish like doctorfish and squirrelfish off the rocks. (I couldn't find a picture of the doctorfish, all the links have to do with fish pedicures.) We used whelks (pictured at left) to bait our hooks. We'd smash the shells with a rock and get our fingers all gooey with whelk guts. But hand-line fishing isn't the same as fishing with a rod and reel. What it was was preparation for the "real" thing when I caught my first "real" fish. (There's a pun in there....)

I was maybe 8 years old. It may well have been the first time we went out in the F. D. O. Certainly it was the first time I ever had a rod and reel in my hands. Between Dad and Erva, I learned how to lock the line and was told about the star-drag. You want the drag tight enough to keep the line from flying off the reel, but you want it loose enough to give the fish some room to run. If the line is too tight, a fish can break it.
We came out from Number Seven Beach and were trolling between Henley and Ramgoat Cay. I got help getting my line out and I was just settling in. I hadn't even gotten the handle of the rod locked between my legs when, BAM, I got a strike. I was nearly pulled out of the boat and almost lost my grip on the rod. Erva, sitting on my right, grabbed my right arm, Mom whipped around from the front seat and grabbed the rod before it disappeared into the water. Once we were all sure me and the rod weren't going to go overboard, I started reeling in the line. Dad cut the motor back and paid attention to the rocks of Henley Cay so we wouldn't smashed up against them. Erva had me by my shorts. It was just about all I could do to reel in the line. The fiber-glass rod was bent almost double. All three are yelling and encouraging me and telling me when to loosen or tighten the star-drag. I'm reeling, it's pulling. I'm reeling, it's pulling. It's pulling, I'm losing strength.

It was all I could do to turn the handle, but somehow I managed to get the fish to the boat and Dad grabbed the line. I had caught my first fish. Not just any old fish, mind you, but a kingfish. a member of the mackerel family. They are large fish, known to be good fighters. I don't know how much the one I caught weighed, but it was probably over eight pounds and less than twelve. I was so proud. Everyone was so proud.

So that's how I was introduced to fishing. We had it for dinner that night, but not until I learned how to clean it. Because, as my parents said, what you catch, you clean.


  1. Bish, I'm impressed.
    Although I don't remember my first encounter with a fish I am told I was two and when I saw it dangling on the line, dropped the pole and ran away. I haven't fished since. In fact, I don't like fish at all - to eat or even to look at in an aquarium. I'll admit that I tolerate the pretty, colorful ones, you can keep the rest.

    I like to go to the ocean, to walk along the beach, but I don't want to go in. Oceans - with the waves, tides, currents, and creatures - scare me just a bit.

  2. Love your fish story. I have one too. I'll have to share it one day on my blog.

    With 9 kids, dad had to fish and hunt just to feed us :)

    Maybe that's why I'm so chubby in my old age, always trying to stock up ;)

  3. I love it! I also almost fell out of a boat fighting a barracuda ... but it got away. I'm glad Michael didn't have to jump in after me ...

  4. Meg, There are many people who aren't comfortable with the ocean. It is so huge, it is not our natural element. But having grown up near/on it, I have a deep love and respect for it. And I do know how to cook fish. My husband, who never liked fish as a kid, now regularly askes me, "When are we having fish for dinner?"

    Oh wow Kim, NINE KIDS? Did you eat anything unusual like bear or squirrel or rattle snake?

    I have a barracuda story Vijaya, which will be told in it's own good time.

  5. Wow, what a great story. And what a first fish to catch! I caught my first one off a pier and it wasn't anything big. Rick's gone deep sea fishing and says it's a real experience to be out there.

  6. This has to be just the first...there are so many wonderful fish stories, all true, in this family, and all of them fun as well! As you noted, we don't have to talk about the "ones that got away," but maybe about the ones we only got a part of, or about the ones we weren't fishing for at all, but seemed to take their pleasure in looking at us!

  7. Wow, over eight pounds! Great story. We grew up on a tiny lake and fished for bass and bluegill, but nothing like that. And my mom did all the cleaning.

  8. What a great story and what a thrill that must have been...

    My first fishing trip was at a trout pond on my honeymoon...Hubs thought it would be fun to fish and I didn't, so we compromised and went to a trout farm...after I caught my first one, I was hooked... ;)

  9. Rena, Only been deep-sea fishing once. We took our dad out as a Father's Day gift. He hooked one...but it got away. No story there.

    Erva, Oh yes, just the first.

    At least 8 Adrienne. Kingfish can be quite big, so 8 pounds would actually be on the small side.

    Oh, Brenda, you punster hooked. :O

  10. Oh Bish... your post brought back memories of being a kid and fishing off the dock. I mostly caught sunfish and threw them back. (I hated to see the little hole the hook left beside the fish's mouth afterwards).
    But we had exciting times too - a fish hook through my finger and once when my sister left her pole in the water overnight...she woke up to find she'd caught a snapper turtle.


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