On a dank foggy morning early last week, I slid the net under a personal best 28-inch trout for a client from the Sugarland area. He has trout fished for years, is acutely aware of the odds against catching a trout that size, and was overjoyed at his good fortune. It was a special moment that will last him a lifetime!
Only two days later, yet another client caught and released two trout over 8-pounds before I caught the largest trout of my life, a 32 1/2-inch fish that I very nearly kept. We were duly overwhelmed by the size of the trout, but at my age I am thankful for every additional day on the water and it was an easy decision to grant the magnificent fish the same consideration. Catching fish that size, or even the possibility of catching fish that size, actually plays a very insignificant role in the reason fishing is so addicting. There is a much greater allure for the dyed-in-the-wool angler than a trophy fish or family fish fry. Anticipation is the indisputable reason for the addiction. It is all about the exhilaration that quickens your heartbeat in the blur of seconds separating the unseen thump at the end of the line and the hook set.
How big is the fish? Will it still be there when I set the hook? Should I have set the hook earlier? Should I have waited a little longer? Is my drag set right? “Lord, don’t let me lose this fish!” All of those thoughts and more flood your mind with every strike or topwater explosion until you actually feel the surge of the fish and know that you have connected.
What else do you do on a regular basis that energizes so many senses or creates that much doubt in a two to three second window? The consequences of failure would be more conflicting, but I would think that pulling the ripcord on a parachute and waiting for it to catch air would compare as far as anticipation is concerned. Fishing, depending on the venue, is both cheaper and safer.
The highlight of this past week, surprisingly enough, was not catching even one of those bragging size trout. When I discovered that I had no clients scheduled Saturday, I decided to go fishing with my favorite partner. I had promised my grandson, Andrew, that we would go after church on Sunday, but he was willing to go on short notice. We invited two of Andrew’s cousins, Connor and Jordan Alexander, and were cruising down the Intracoastal saluting cows, boats, egrets and other fishermen well before noon. Had we never made the first cast, Connor and Jordan would have still been satisfied with lessons and sights that cannot be experienced in the Mall or classroom. Their observations and endless list of questions brought to light how much I take for granted as I run the same stretch of water most every day. With the wind howling in the open lake, I elected to drop anchor in the mouth of a small cut off East Pass in hopes of each of them catching anything that would bite. I was still rigging up a rod for eight -year old Connor, when his younger brother, Jordan, and Andrew set the hook at the same time.
My initial thought was that they had hung one another until I saw their lines racing off in opposite directions. Connor excitedly abandoned his rod for the net and I scrambled to help Jordan save my rod. It was a combination of the Lion’s Club Carnival and the Olympics all wrapped into one within the confines of a 22-foot boat! It was old hat for Andrew, but not for five-year old Jordan. I do not recall catching my first fish, but based on what has transpired since that happening, I can only assume that it matched the elation and satisfaction etched on his face. I know that Santa will be good to him, but he will have a hard time eliciting that level of joy with anything in his sled!
Not one of the 26 fish that came aboard was taken for granted by the young fishermen. They may not know the definition of anticipation, but they will tell you that it feels a lot like something biting their bait in ten feet of water! The youngsters grew increasingly more comfortable with their equipment and each fish was caught, admired, and released with the same unbridled enthusiasm. They paused only long enough to occasionally re-fuel on pretzels and a cold drink for fear that I may entertain thoughts of prematurely calling it a day. Andrew has more cousins waiting in the wings and we will do this again in the very near future. Fishing is obviously not for everyone, but every youngster should have an opportunity to decide that for him or herself.
I also took the time Saturday to do something with Andrew that I had never done before and I do not know why. He had driven the boat short distances before, but I wanted him to be able to return safely should something happen to me. I had him start and stop the engine, shift it into both forward and reverse, and look for boat traffic. I also pointed out that he could either idle up to another boater for help or beach the boat near one of the markers on the Intracoastal and call in the number on the placard so they could find him.
I highly recommend you do the same with any fishing partner that has never operated a boat. It only takes a few min