“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.”
Ever since I started fishing, I have fished freshwater. Consumed by the passion for bass fishing, I hadn’t ever really entertained the idea of saltwater fishing. “I’m surprised you have never been saltwater fishing,” many have said. Not knowing what I was missing, I always responded with the simple response, “nope.” Funny how that has gotten me by all these years without a single opportunity, a blessing I experienced for the very first time earlier this month.
“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”
I took off from work on Friday, hoping the first attempt at offshore fishing awaited. The decision came later that night, all was ago for bright and early Friday morning. Eyeing the weather became an hour-by-hour routine. We all knew if wasn’t looking good, but a fisherman never fully trusts the weatherman. We reached our destination at 2am, just a few hours before we were set to blast off from Pirates Cove Marina, Manteo, NC. With little time to sleep, we agreed on an all nighter and awaited the passing of time.
4am rolls by, and Lee , Garland, Jay and I hopped in the truck for the marina. Reaching the docks, not a single boat had left, and chatters of cancellations filled the boat slips (7-8 foot swells with winds reaching as much as 35 mph). After further review of the conditions, it was clear the weather had won. Luckily, charter cancellations for the next two days left us optimistic the opportunity would be on our side.
“If you want to see sunshine, you have to weather the storm”
After a day of relaxation, weathering the storm and enjoying time with friends, we were surprised to wake up on Saturday to the possibility of a fishing adventure ahead. Not out of the storm, however, we headed to the dock seeking a captain’s expert opinion. After examining our options, we agreed to take the gamble, knowing rough seas were ahead, but the possibility of clearer skies were just over the horizon.
The 2 ½ hour ride offshore seemed like forever, battling rough swells. Up over the swell, down the swell, and up over the next became far too consistent. Until we reached our destination, the gulf stream far off the shores of the North Carolina coast.
“I’ve always been about progress and accomplishment. When you set your mind toward a goal, you continue to have follow though”
The beauty of being offshore is that you stand atop a boat in the middle of an area few ever experience in a lifetime. To the average person, you lose yourself in the moment. The blue water and white foam created by the boat, the rods bouncing as the bait skips aggressively across the surface, and the teaser rigs whose sole purpose is to get the attention of pelagic creatures below, is a visual experience like no other.
Until finally a rod bends rapidly, followed by the sound of fishing line escaping quickly from the reel from which it rested. Another rod hit, and another, and soon a symphony of chaos fills the air.
The first mate scrambles the crew into position, rallying the crew to take a seat in fighting chairs, and turning the fight over to the eager anglers. For the next period, time stands still; a fight between man and fish in a battle of attrition, friends cheering in encouragement. You watch as fish after fish is gaffed, and yet the sea-dweller at the end of your line peels drag, taking 15 yards for every 10 gained. A few choice words are exhaled as the every bit of strength leaves the body.
As you are about to give up, it finally becomes evident that the tides have turned, and ground is quickly made up, a second wind kicks in. The leader rises from the surface, and the encouragement reaches an all time high. “You’re almost there,” the crew shouts.
One gaff proves too little, and reinforcement is quickly called. Two sets of arms to lift over the stern, and your first saltwater fish is thrown into the ice chest, 110 pounds of Atlantic Bigeye Tuna.
“And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fish.”
We didn’t go hungry that day, all filling our three fish tuna limit, and a single Mahi-Mahi and Bonita as an added bonus. There is nothing to say other than the day turned out better than any of us had expected. Riding out the storm, we were rewarded by calmer seas and decreased wind speeds. That’s how fishing goes sometime. I was left with sore muscles I didn’t even know I had, yet well worth the memories made. Like the bird born in a cage, you may never know what lies outside your worldview until you venture outside. Experience new forms of fishing, and who knows, you may just have the experience of a lifetime. Fish On!