I have always loved fishing, but now I love it even more. It was our second year living in Brigantine and our first in the Elks Club Striper Tournament celebrating veterans. This was one of the best times that I ever had fishing with my grandpa. I was excited for all of us to go fishing in this two day tournament. My grandpa stayed the night at our house so we could get an early start. It was 3:45 in the morning and freezing outside. We all put on our warm gear and headed out. I got to drive the boat and talk to my grandpa on the way. We talked about all of his fishing adventures he had with my dad when my dad was my age. It was fun listening to how they used to argue.
We got there safely and started to put out the spread. There were about 50 boats all fishing in the same tournament. Hours went by and nothing. At least my grandpa and I were having a good time despite not catching any fish yet . He always says, “That’s why it’s called fishing, not catching!” Then wham! “We’re on,” my dad yells. I ran over and picked up the rod and started to reel it in. We were all in disbelief because no other boat around us was catching anything. My grandpa was on the wheel, while my dad was ready to gaff the fish. As soon as the fish ran, I knew this was a tournament winning fish. After fifteen minutes of fighting with this fish, I was exhausted. ‘’Just a little closer’’, my dad yelled. Then boom, my dad stuck it right in the head and brought it into the boat. It was one of the biggest striped bass I had ever caught. I will never forget the smile on my grandpa’s face. He was so impressed with the way I brought it in.
We fished for a little while longer and decided to head in. The weather changed and the ocean was starting to get rough. We were headed right into the enormous waves. My grandpa sat next to me while I drove slowly. I was nervous, but as long as my grandpa was there, I knew we were going to be ok. After about 45 minutes, we were still not in. At this time, we only had about five minutes left before the weigh-in closed. ‘’Full throttle,’’ my dad says, and we raced in. When we docked, we quickly tied up and ran straight for the weigh-in. We were just in time. This was the moment I had been waiting for the whole ride in. How much would our fish weigh and did anyone else weigh in a fish yet?
I could see our fish swaying back and forth on the scale and it wasn’t getting an accurate read. Then finally they were able to steady it and tell us the final weight – 28 pounds, 13 ounces! So far, we were in first place because to our surprise no one else weighed-in that day.
The second day of the tournament rolled around and I was a little disappointed because my grandpa couldn’t go. I was determined to make him proud by catching another whopper. My dad and I got up super early again and raced out there. It was rough and freezing but we kept going. When we made it out to the spot, we noticed not as many boats as the day before. Two hours went by and we were about to move when all of a sudden three of our rods started peeling out line! Since it was just my dad and I, we didn’t have someone to reel in the other lines or gaff the fish. We had to think quickly, so I got on the wheel while my dad reeled in one. Even though we lost the other two, we were thankful to have another fish. My dad backed up and held the wheel while I quickly gaffed the fish. It wasn’t huge, but a fish nonetheless!
Again we were running late to get back for the weigh-in. I drove us in hoping to be on time. We made it with minutes to spare. Our weight on this fish was 10 pounds, 8 ounces. It wasn’t as big as I hoped but it didn’t matter because we were the only boat in
the whole tournament to catch a striped bass! We won First, Second, and Third place! Since it was a Veteran’sTournament, we decided to give the Second and Third place winnings to the Veterans. Both my dad and my grandpa are veterans, so it was very special to me. My dad and I came home with over $800. The money was a great prize, but the best prize of all was spending time with my grandpa.
Editor’s Note: Tommy is 12yrs old and attends Galloway Township middle school in New Jersey.