If you’ve read any of my previous blogs over the past few years then you know that I have had some bad fishing trips in my life.
There was the time I woke up with the Gulf of Mexico rolling into my tent because the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina came in sooner than expected. A few folks along the upper Texas coast almost didn’t make it off the beach that day.
A few years ago I almost sank my kayak when, unbeknownst to me, it sprang a leak while I was in the middle of the lake fishing. I lost a cell phone to that little incident.
Then there was the trip when a fishing buddy and I had a flat on the boat trailer, on Interstate 10 in the middle of nowhere, next to a swamp, at 3:00 in the morning, without a spare. Yes, without a spare. I sat with the boat while he went looking for tires. Four hours and 500 mosquito bites later we were back on the road again.
I’ve been in two boats on Lake Fork that almost sank, chased off Caddo by a lightening storm, and who can forget the time when I was ten years old and got a spinnerbait hooked in my belly button?
This past week, however, I went on a pilgrimage of suffering that outshines all the above.
The family and I wanted to go catch some snapper. The wife and I have gone out on the party boats in the past and had fun and our 12 year old daughter wanted to try it so we signed up to go again. Driving to the pier the morning of the fateful trip the breeze was whipping out of the south and the water was angry. It might have been helpful to know that there were small craft advisories and the warning on the local beach was that it was only wise to go in if you had gills because it was rough.
When we checked in with the charter the man behind the counter advised that if you get sea sick this might not be the best day to go. We probably should have listened but we had Dramamine and backing out of a fishing trip isn’t very manly so we boarded with the rest of the anglers. One of which was a young guy (early 20’s) named Justin who fished this boat every Wednesday and was sporting a fairly new rod and reel combo. Behind him was a kid about 12 years old holding a bunch of bananas. If you’re familiar with maritime lore then you know that bringing bananas on a boat is bad luck. I don’t believe in this superstition so I pay no attention to the kid.
Roughly 10 minutes into the trip the man sitting across the aisle from me got sick. He was shortly followed by about a quarter of the boat and we hadn’t even reached the end of the jetties yet. The wise decision would have been to turn around, take the boat back to the dock and chalk it up as a missed fishing day, but that’s not what we did. Our captain headed south into the six foot seas (with the occasional 8 footer mixed in just for grins) for two hours.
In these conditions standing was difficult, walking was next to impossible, and using the head was an act of lunacy.
If you’re wondering why I don’t have many pictures of this lovely trip it’s because the camera died shortly into the boat ride. All that were taken were of a few of people sleeping, trying not to think about the waves or how Gilligan’s trip probably started out just like this.
By the time we reached the fishing grounds the inside of the boat looked like the local emergency room on a wild Saturday night. There were audible moans from all corners of the cabin, multiple heads in trashcans, and people laying everywhere. Bodies were on benches, tables, the floor. Over half the boat was sick and when the captain told us it was time to start fishing the majority stayed right where they were.
Stepping outside the cabin, I found my designated spot just in time to see a sea turtle swim by. I’m pretty sure he was laughing. Baiting my hook, I held onto the rail with one hand and my rod with the other waiting for a bite. A few minutes later I heard that Justin (the kid who fishes every Wednesday) had lost his rod. It seems a fish hit and yanked it out of his hands and it now resided at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
Then it started raining.
I went looking for the kid with bananas so I could throw him overboard.