Most all of us have one memory that we share.
Sitting as kid on the banks of a pond or stream with our dad or grandpa, watching a little red and white plastic bobber intently. When that small orb began to move, we gave it all our attention. It didn’t matter if it just bounced along the surface or streaked down into the depths, right at that moment it was the most important thing in the world.
I suppose that feeling is what we who fish are seeking for the rest of our lives. Sort of like a doper who is always trying to recreate their first high. In a kid’s case, pulling up a little fish is an unmatched euphoria.
Even those who didn’t continue in the sport will always remember that first thrill. Some of us can’t shake it. As we grow older, we continue to improve our methods and equipment. A cane pole is replaced by a reel and rod and the quest for a better one of those becomes a lifelong search.
Eventually the beginner realizes they must find a way to get off the shore and out where better fish are. That can either be in the form of a canoe or kayak or an outboard. By then we have become a part of the boating economy that is so valuable to places like Volusia County where fishing opportunities are everywhere.
To be sure, there are many ways to fish. Right now my eight-year-old grandson is in the bluegill phase, but only recently he sent me a photo of a small largemouth bass he caught on an artificial bait. Just as I hoped, the kid is hooked. As long as he is an outdoorsman, I can go to my final reward without having to worry about him.
When I was a kid, I never had time to look for trouble. I was either fishing or hunting. On many days I would even be doing one of those before class began in the morning.
Once, many years ago, a friend from the Chicago area came down for a visit and, despite his objections, I took him fishing in Mosquito Lagoon. He insisted he didn’t care for fishing and, on that day, didn’t give it much of an effort.
After I had caught enough for dinner, I headed back to the ramp, but noticed a wake in a shallow lagoon. I stopped there and told my guest to throw a live shrimp toward the disturbance. A 27-inch red drum took it and all hell broke out. The big fish went nuts and I yelled for my friend to just hold on. Once it was in the boat, we took pictures and released it. My buddy was forevermore a fisherman and began sending me photos from his Great Lakes trips.
Some love to go offshore for huge marlin or sailfish while others are fine with catching specks in the St. Johns. It doesn’t matter. Fishing is fishing. After all my years of angling, I still love to catch whatever bites. Sure, a big snook is great fun, but so is a feisty bluegill. Being able to catch a tasty meal is just a great side light to the real fun of fishing. Whatever worry I have in my life is dispelled by that tug on the line.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to email@example.com. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.