I have been around fishing most of my life. Growing up on a farm offered a perfect opportunity to play along the banks of the pond that my dad carved out of the landscape. Inspired by clean, fresh springs, he worked for years with his bulldozer to create that pond, which would hold memories for all of us for years to come. He created a little island in the pond, not perfectly centered, but a spot that made our imaginations run wild. We would paddle over to the island in our small boat and set up camp, but mostly opted not to spend the night after the skies turned dark and the sounds of nature seemed a little too close for comfort. We caught plenty of bass and brim, and often spotted bullfrogs, snapping turtles, lots of snakes, and occasional visitors such as geese and ducks.
Many years later, I look out over the most beautiful waters one could imagine: Murrells Inlet! My husband and I have been blessed to live here almost a decade. Since we have a dock and a 15-foot Whaler—which happens to be the perfect size boat to fish the inlet—you would think that we would be out on the water all the time and would be excellent anglers. But I have to confess it is quite the contrary. Don’t misunderstand. We have had some exciting times. We especially love to fish the jetties for red drum and have taken some beauties there.
The excitement and adrenaline rush fishing in the rough waters is what we enjoy most. Realizing that this was not the safest thing to do (we frequently saw the remains of wrecked boats smashed on the jetties), we decided to try flounder fishing, which we could enjoy in calmer waters. We found flounder fishing to be a bit boring, but not because we were so good at it. Without a doubt, we have not had very much luck fishing for flounder.
So, I ask myself: What can I do to make fishing more enjoyable? I know what some of you are thinking . . . I would rather be hunting, right? Truthfully, the answer is yes. Fishing will never take the place of my passion for hunting. But hunting season is over now, with the exception of predator hunting, so it is only natural that I would turn my attention to fishing, a wonderful outdoor sport that is right at my backdoor!
My husband is an experienced off-shore fisherman and has enjoyed many wonderful fishing outings throughout his life. He has tried to get me more excited about it by taking me on some guided trips—one in Boca Raton and one to the Everglades in Florida. We’ve also gone tarpon fishing here in our waters to the south
I did enjoy those great fishing trips, but yearn to experience for myself that thrill that so many outdoors people feel when they are fishing. So, today I will begin focusing on what it is that I enjoy about fishing and see if I can find the passion I seem to be missing. I do recall the times when I had fun, and it always seemed to revolve around the excitement of not knowing what was on the other end of the line when I was hooked up with a fish. I have caught some unusual fish such as bonnet sharks, eels, baby octopus, toadfish, ribbonfish, and a small sting ray. Getting them off the hook was not part of the fun, though!
Just being out on the blue open water is a wonderful feeling all in itself. I loved leaving early in the morning so that we could see the sunrise. With our Thermos filled with hot coffee, it felt exhilarating to feel the chill of the early morning air as we sliced through the waters on our way offshore. Equipped with a bag of hard-boiled eggs rolled in salt and pepper, and a cooler with some beer, beef jerky, and chips for a midday snack was a must. It was not just about fishing; it was about the experience and the time spent with my hubby away from the ordinary routines of our week. The best reward was bringing home a beautiful fresh catch for dinner. We love to experiment with new recipes, and this will be a big incentive for me to get back out there and find that passion for fishing!
So, today I begin to focus on all these enjoyable moments I have experienced over the years and replace this indifference I have about fishing with enthusiasm and yes, passion!
As written for Waccamaw Outdoors Magazine May Issue.