Removing the dewy canvas cover sends a shiver through my body and I can’t remember the last time my hands felt cold. Months of summer will do that to a person…memory fades a bit in the warmth. The chilly start warrants a jacket and I can almost see my breath in the air. Or is that just my imagination? In less than an hour the bright sunshine warms me enough that I stow the jacket. Some saltwater spray still catches my right arm and leg but modern fabric protects me from hours of dampness.
I cast my first line forward as the boat slows. One deep breath and then another releases tension from my body and the corners of my mouth turn up. I’m in my happy place. Sparkles of sunshine reflect from the choppy waves and I’m grateful for the protection of a baseball cap and sunglasses. My husband expertly pilots the boat so I’m free to focus on fishing.
Wind, waves, and current pound in competing directions. Wake from other boats and waves crashing violently on a nearby reef add to the mayhem. My body compensates for these continuous changes so I remain upright and in control of my rod. Core torso and leg muscles flex in a continuous workout even before I reel in a single fish but I’m still smiling. This beats any day stuck indoors. I’m breathing ocean air and enjoy 360 degrees of beautiful scenery. The view never gets old but I’m feeling every jolt and swell.
Our next location is calmer and includes clanging metal-on-metal musical tones from a navigational buoy. Birds avoid the noisy buoy but congregate on a silent green one nearby. Over several hours a few gorgeous Monarch butterflies keep us company and I wonder if this is the beginning of their migration. We’re only a mile off shore but we’ve never seen butterflies on the water before today. Fish bite on adjacent lines and become entangled but the sea robin and scup are returned to the water unharmed. It takes longer to untangle the lines. This day of “firsts” is entertaining. Autumn’s arrival is foreshadowed by a single, red leaf floating in the water and the vivid blue sky cheers my soul. Maybe I appreciate all of it more because there won’t be too many more days like this. New Englanders embrace summers at the shore like nobody else. We appreciate warm days and salty air while they’re here and daydream about them the rest of the year.
Wind and current calm as we reel in several large scup that weren’t biting just 300 yards west of here. What causes one area to be barren while another is teeming? No matter how much I learn about fishing, there is always so very much more to learn. Conditions differ every day but sometimes old-timers share nuggets of wisdom with beginners like me. It may be their enthusiasm for the sport or pity on me but I’ll take all the advice I can get. Success is sometimes just a matter of luck…or bait…or timing.
One area is crowded with small, hungry fish that will be easy for a 7 year-old to catch. We return here with our youngest fishing buddy. Sporting a striped winter cap, she appreciates help baiting her tiny hook with “yucky stuff.” She catches one small scup at a time and says goodbye to each as it is released by hand. She encourages us to throw a fish to the seagull floating beside us. The waiting seagull snaps toward the fish but retracts quickly when it is too big to swallow. A smaller fish is swallowed whole. For some reason it makes our fishing buddy happy to feed the temporary mascot. I’m not too fond of seagulls myself since one ripped a sandwich out of my hand at the beach.
Satisfied with catching four fish in an hour, our little buddy is ready to call it a day. Dinner at home is grilled hamburgers, garden fresh salad and late summer corn. Later, she describes it as “the best day ever” and I have to agree. What a wonderful way to end summer. I hope fishing trips become a cherished family tradition. Creating memories together in the sunshine will warm many winter evenings.