My Daughters First Ocean Adventure
One overcast day I awoke with quiet anticipation. Today was the day that I take my daughter out on the ocean for her first fishing adventure.
It was the cool Pacific Coast, she was 12, and I was worried.
I so wanted her to enjoy her first experience fishing on the open sea. These are make or break type moments where manifests a potential for enthusiasm and passion….or on the negative side, apathy and worse, revulsion.
This was a chartered fishing trip, so I had little control beyond choice of captain and boat. My morning addled brain was awash with thoughts. Would the captain be one of those that scuttled around all day “looking for the fish”? Would he be a bitter jackass beaten from years of dealing with land bound ignoramuses, or would he be the type that appreciates their patrons?
These potentials and myriad others bantered about in my increasingly conscious mind and then I remembered, fishing is about fishing. It’s about the experience, about appreciating natural elements regardless of circumstantial events. That’s what I loved about fishing, and that’s what she needed to be taught.
With that thought firmly folded into the front of my brain, I smiled. Today was going to be great!
The Saltwater Fishing Adventure Begins
So we showed up to the boat, the captain was quite obviously seasoned, he seemed relatively jovial and at the same time exuded a calm no-nonsense confidence. Excellent!
We set off quickly and started the trek out to sea. Panning past docks and bait systems, we broke through the harbor sand bar, and we were free.
It was a cool morning, and I looked at my daughter….she was cold for sure, but smiling from ear to ear as tendrils of her hair that were peeking outside of her hoodie whipped in the crisp air.
Her eyes soaked it in as they darted from the seabirds not typically seen from shore, to the sea lions lounging on buoys and rocks as she exclaimed things like “Daddy, are those seals?”
At one point a Man o’ War skidded past the surface as the captain was pushing the throttle forward, and that resulted in a whole conversation about the beautiful (from afar) simple creature.
This was it, the passion and appreciation was dawning. I was silly to be apprehensive about this journey, and then it happened…
Sea Sickness Sucks
I recognized a look in her eyes, a look I’d seen on several occasions before on others that I’d fished with. That look they get when the burning diesel starts to weigh on tender olfactory senses, as the shifting horizon begin to take its toll, as the waves monotonous and perpetual motion begins to churn things best left un-churned.
She was getting sick, and so early in the adventure before she’d even gotten a line in the water. This was one of the fears I’d had being realized. I’ve fished with others where this same condition resulted in them never wanting to venture forth again.
See, when sea sickness takes hold, it rarely lets go until after you’ve got your feet on good solid ground again. The net effect is that typically fishing does not occur, misery takes hold and it becomes a type of circle, like those pictures you see of the serpent eating its own tail.
The sick person wants to get warm, so they go into the cabin. Firmly ensconced, they start to think thoughts about sickness, and how they wish it was over. This focus on the “inner turmoil” results in an ever worsening condition and makes for a very long day.
To my surprise, she rallied and tried to maintain her composure. We eventually did start fishing and she caught Black Bass and even a small Ling Cod (which in my mind is the best eating in the Pacific). This excitement helped, but alas, the Ocean as it typically does, won.
All of a sudden she lurched for the side of the boat and exposed the contents of her small digestive system. It mostly went into the ocean, but some got onto the rail and the bottom of the boat.
She was utterly embarrassed. I went to her and said “You OK?”, she nodded hesitantly looking up at me to see if I was mad or disappointed. I said, “well that ought to help” as the deckhand hosed off the rail and the boats deck with as much fuss as anything else he’d washed off.
Saltwater Chum Fishing
She looked at me quizzically as if to say “what the hell is that supposed to mean?”. So I answered her unasked question; “Well you see, there’s this type of fishing called chumming”, I said. “When you chum, you throw out bait into the water so that fish start eating it and it creates a type of feeding frenzy meaning that they kind of lose their fear and just eat”.
“What you did”, I continued, “was give the fish something to focus on so I’ll bet you money that the next time you put your hook in the water, you catch even more and bigger fish!”. Just then the captain strode by saying, “looks like we’re chumming, that ought to make the fish bite!” lend credence to my statement.
She smiled at me, rolling her eyes at both of us and shocked me completely by putting her line into the water.
You know what….she caught the most fish on the boat!
Even more remarkable, her sea sickness seemed to subside and she enjoyed the trip. Despite the potentially debilitating condition that she was experiencing, she rallied on past it and became a fisherman, perhaps not avid, but the appreciation was there. The seed had been planted…and it had taken root.
The rest of the day was just amazing, we caught fish, we bonded, we learned new things about each other, the environment, and our fellow charter passengers.