Fish Catching Travel
It is almost here, Christmas. As I wrap up a couple of days visiting my mother and father, brother, and sister and her husband, I have a lot to be thankful for. Our families made it through another year without any disasters or the loss of any loved one. Today we head over to OK City for a couple of days to see our daughter and her husband, grandchild number 1 Miss Mia, and our newest grand baby, little Wren. They are all doing well, minus a couple of cases of flu, but all in all have had a good year. So it was so interesting and telling when I got the following comment from Mac, one of my loyal readers and most thoughtful commenters. There is a story here, one that is touching and should lead you to pause and think about how good your life is, and how it can change for all of us in a moment.
“Baa-Humbug–planned to go fishing in the back bays around Cedar Bayou the next couple of days, but the rain and cold prediction may keep me by the fireplace. A neighbor of mine just returned today with some nice slot reds still in shallow water.
All were caught sight casting with a Mann’s Wobbler near Fence Lake. It seems the large schools of fall have dispersed. All were singles just snoozing in the warm sun yesterday. Water condition were pristine. This time of year I can head down and fish in water that resembles chocolate milk. One often finds it difficult to get ideal weather conditions 1n late fall and winter. Wish I was in Costa Rica!!!!!! Thanks for your story on your whole time there. Others enjoyed it also
Now a Christmas story—and it is how life can change in an instant. 25 years ago I met a professor, Dr. Jim Harwell from the University of Kansas. His wife had just died and he bought a Volkswagen van , and moved to Port Aransas. For about 4 years he lived in his van and fished the South Jetty often. He said he really missed his wife and fishing was his love since her life ended. Often he and I would just sit on the rocks and just talk fishing and life itself. I lost track of professor Harwell and thought I would never see him again. In November,while walking around Town Lake , in Austin, I passed an elderly man, who looked down on his luck but somewhat familiar. I went on by and heard a very weak “Mac”. I continued on my way, but then I looked back and saw my old friend , the professor. We embraced and told each of our lives. My life has been blessed with family and friends while Dr. Jim’s went the opposite direction. After teaching many years and fishing, Dr. Jim is now homeless.
I gave him my phone number, but he tore it up and said that his life was near over and he did not want to burden my family by hanging around us. He then said during good weather, we can find him at the same spot on Sundays. I said goodbye and walked away troubled that I left him. His words on my departure–”Mac , what you are now, I once was, and what I am now, someday you could be in my situation. A month has passed and I have not seen him there. Maybe even though I may never see him again, he has taught me a valuable lesson. “Always value and keep in touch with loved ones and friends.” Doug. by your writing your friends are many, Mac”
I really am touched by your story and your comments. As we live our lives, consumed with our own problems and trials, we do forget what is important, old friends slip away, and we don’t say those things that should be said. Though we have never met I truly appreciate your friendship. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to hear it when someone says you helped me catch some fish, I read your blog regularly, or thanks for something I wrote. This has gone from a simple diary with no destination, to a fishing first blog, to what I now hope is an ongoing story. My greatest hope is that you all are along for the ride. My goal is nothing more complicated than to share it with you. So thanks Mac, your comment puts what is important into words. Have a great Christmas with your family.
As melancholy as Mac’s comment is, the following comment from Al is as important for another completely different reason. The fishing world has changed so much in the over 40 years I have been hitting it hard. More folks, bigger boats, fancy stuff and big money have changed the face of fishing. But those of us who have pursued our sport with a passion unrelated to metal flake and fancy shirts have some great memories, memories that should not be lost or forgotten.
“My two brothers and I FISHED the back end of powderhorn back in the early 60,ies before horricane Carla.We fished out of Ed Bells fish camp @ the opening to Lavaca bay.A quart of shrimp live was .50 cents we would buy 2 quarts and as a general rule catch one or two trout on each bait.My brother Adam had a 14 ‘ yellowjacket hull with 25 johnson.Every time it failed to start or we sheered a pin guess who pulled the boat back to the dock,I was the youngest.I have not been back in powderhorn since Horricane Carla,have fun Al”
Love it Al, I bet Adam thought he was the bomb with that fine boat. A gallon of gas, $2 worth of bait, and you were living large. Think about if folks, the boat breaks down and you just pull it back to the dock. How things have changed. It has come to adding a 2 to all those numbers. Now it is $22 worth of bait, in a 24 foot boat with a 225hp on the back end. Progress, yes. Improvement? Debatable. It is what it is, and I don’t want to belabor “the good old days”, but fishing has changed dramatically. It is so important to not lose sight of what drives those of us with the passion. It is not the metal flake, it is the electricity that shoots up our arm when we feel that bite. It is not the 60mph as we blast across the bay, it is the blood red sunrise coming up over the trees. I love it when I get this kind of comment, it helps me remember why I pick up the rod. So thanks Al, I really do appreciate it.
Come on the rest of you, I know you have some stories, some memories, things you share with family and friends as you get together over the holidays. Your stories are important to all of us. Doesn’t matter if it is happy or sad, or some complete BS fisherman tale, we all love to hear them as much as we love to tell them. So send me some more, make all of our holidays fuller, and when we retell them your story will live forever.
I will be heading home in a couple of days and for me it is the fishing season. As a former paramedic, and with a wife who was a paramedic for 25 years, and is now a PA in the ER, she has historically worked on most of the days around Christmas. With only one grown child my wife has worked over Christmas so those with children can have the time off to be with their family. We just take ours before and after, and it works for us. So my Christmas present to myself has been to fish Christmas day, which I have probably done the last 20 years. It really is a great day to fish. I have it to myself, but not for the selfish reasons you might think, but for the solitude. No motor sounds, no one at the ramp, just a day for myself enjoying the sport I love.
And of course there is a story, always a story. As an attorney I am a notorious rule follower. (I know attorney and rule follower in the same sentence is an oxymoron, but I really do follow rules.) I can’t help it, I just follow rules. One I never break is the No Wake rule, right? So Christmas day several years ago I am headed up lake on Coleto when I get to the bridge where the No Wake buoy is and I think, what the heck, not a soul out here, so I buzz under the bridge without slowing down. As I come out the other side I hear Whoop Whoop. There, crossing the bridge at 8:00 on Christmas morning, with not another person out, is the Game Warden in his truck. So I turn around and wave as I head up lake. Lesson learned. Who would’a thunk it? And I promise Warden, it won’t happen again!
Hope you holidays are going well and your friends and family are all doing well. And maybe if you are lucky you will get to slip away a couple of hours and wet a line. But remember there will be other days, but not other friends and family. So enjoy your time with them, and don’t worry, I will handle the fishing part. So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.
Good Luck and Tight Lines