As we began this journey, we had a desire to learn to fish. For me (Marc), I grew up fishing bass in ponds and then up in Canada in Lake Erie but it was something I did occasionally and wasn’t very good at. My Grandpa Joe found such joy in it and was a darn good fisherman. I know that Camden and I have found that love of fishing that Grandpa had. I think of Grandpa smoking his cigar, fishing and sending us his wisdom every time that I put a line in the water. One of Grandpa’s favorite lines was “put that in your pipe and smoke it” after he gave some sage advice. One of Camden’s favorite lines (that he made up) is, “Dad, let me know when you hear that sweet sweet sound singin’ off the reel.” Now that is a classic line.
Cam’s excitement started back when we were sailing in Indiana and he fished at Lake Monroe. This continued as his Uncle Dan bought him his first real fishing pole. Then in January we moved to Florida and for us novices, we started out buying some additional poles and tackle at a local store. Saltwater fishing is really defined as either bottom fishing or trolling. Bottom fishing is stationary and done off a non-moving boat, beach or pier while trolling is typically done dragging a line behind a boat moving around 6 knots. (Check out this link for more info). Our intent was to fish as we sailed from Florida to the Bahamas; however we were so busy with the sailing and figuring out how to work as a family on the boat, we didn’t get the lines out. In Bimini, Cam found an immediate friend in Pierre and as Jen wrote in our Bimini blog he led us in a Fishing 101 class. Nothing like learning from a 9 year old. This led to Cam catching many Irish Pompanos and for the first time, filleting and eating what he caught.
During the sail from Bimini to Nassau we had our first big fish on and I made the rookie mistake of releasing the break on the trolling rod which caused the spool to run free and caused what fisherman call a hornet’s nest. The short story is that I was not able to reel in the fish. We tried to use the winch on the sailboat but the line was too tight and the fish broke free. We replaced the line in Nassau and again tried to fish during our next sail. This time, we did everything right but had too large a fish on the line. We have a 50 lb test line on our trolling pole and this fish snapped that line so it must have been huge. Cam of course thinks we must have had a shark on the line. So, we were on to try it another day. We then fished on Chip’s motor boat, Mambo (friends from Fort Lauderdale) but to no avail.
Cam continued to fish often and catch many small fish throughout our trip but the big one still eluded us. His patience through this time was neat to see and Jen and I have been surprised at how Cam never got frustrated. All Cam talks about from the minute he wakes up to the minute the sun goes down is fishing. Cam has decorated his cabin with fish charts and drawings he’s sketched of fish.We finally landed our first large fish last week and Cam’s face was priceless and I was really excited. We landed a 4.5 ft Mahi Mahi and it took nearly 45 minutes to bring the fish to the boat. Joellen was the first one to see it jump and called out that we had a Mahi Mahi on the line. Currently, I am reading Ernest Hemingway’s, The Old Man and the Sea and he writes about a similar experience.
“Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a Mahi Mahi. He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Once we pulled the fish up on deck and dropped the anchor, we had Chip come over to partake in the filleting activities. Chip, Cam and I were like three little kids in a candy store. We ate the Mahi over the following few days but that fish the first night was probably the best that I have ever had in my life. We were all so excited at dinner that we must have done 6 or 7 toasts to the fish, Camden, the ocean, our fishing rod, etc.
Two days ago, we thought that we had either a tuna or grouper on the line and were excited to have another big fish to eat. I guess we got a bit ahead of ourselves because unfortunately it turned out to be a 3 foot barracuda. We brought it to the boat and then I released it since I didn’t want those sharp teeth aboard and it’s not a very good fish to eat.
So, like my Grandpa Joe said, you need to have a line in the water if you want to catch a fish. And now that our confidence on how to sail the boat as a family is high, we almost always have a line in the water as we move from place to place.