Editor’s Log: The Perfect Day - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: The Perfect Day

I was once asked to describe my perfect day; the answer I gave then still stands today.  My father and I leave the dock at dawn with a few light tackle outfits and a gallon of live grass shrimp.  It’s a sunny, windless summer morning, as dad slides his center console out of the channel and across the flats, settling in along a quiet slew tucked beside the marshes behind Long Beach Island.

After bridling the anchor my father begins tossing small handfuls of live shrimp over the gunnel as I rig a shad dart with a couple of livies attached, casting back behind the slick and slowly retrieving towards the boat.  Fifteen minutes later we’re netting the day’s first spike weakfish before bedlam ensues with the two of us catching and unhooking weakies, one after the other.  This is before the one-fish limit, so we’re able to sort enough keepers to fill the box with several days’ worth of trout dinners.

After a few hours of non-stop action, we pull anchor and head for home, stopping along the way in a secluded cove to check the crab pots.  Dad pulls each trap, dumping the contents into a wire basket and sliding a fresh bunker into the bait hold, as I size the catch.  In no time the bushel basket is nearly filled with blue claws, and we’re back on plane towards the dock where dad will cut the fish and light the outdoor cooker for steaming the crabs, as I clean the boat and stow our gear.

By 1 p.m. we’re sitting in the living room with the Phillies game on television, dad picking crab meat, and the three of us – dad, me, and Harry Kalas calling the game on the tube – settling in for a Sunday afternoon.  Our conversations run the gamut from baseball and politics to love and marriage, reminiscing about old times and close friends.  In those 3 hours dad collects a pile of crab big enough to stuff a half-dozen weakfish filets, and our Phils win a nail biter in the bottom of the ninth.

I love my wife and children to no end, but these times with dad have been a true constant in my 50-plus years on this earth.  My father is one of my best friends, a most trusted advisor in life, and these times we’ve spent together – hunting, fishing or just watching a ball game – are the moments that have kept me the most grounded through the years.

On Saturday, May 4th, dad drove to me for the opening day of fluke season, meeting in my driveway a little after 6 a.m.  On the short drive through the neighborhood to where my center console is docked we drove past a red fox on the last of her morning hunt before retiring to the den, and by 7 a.m. we were out the creek and headed across the bay to one of my spots.  As the tide turned and the chilly easterlies came up, I deployed the trolling motor to cut the “wind against tide” as we worked to put together a catch, talking technology, fishing, sports, family and life.

I forget sometimes that Hutch, Sr. turns 81 this year; when I look at him today I still see a strapping man hauling traps and patiently trying to teach me to hit a curveball.  Then I look in the mirror at the lines in my face and I remember that time passes more quickly than we realize.  It wasn’t a banner opening day for us fish-wise, but as I watched dad’s pickup truck roll away from my house that afternoon, I felt truly blessed.

My wife and I ate fresh fluke that night, and our Phils crushed the Giants 14-3.  All in all, it was another perfect day.

Happy Father’s Day my friend.

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