Every time you go fishing and you make that first cast do you think that this cast is going to produce anything? How about your first time fishing for the new season and making that first cast?
Most people I think just welcome the new season and catching a fish is not crossing their minds as yet. For me that first cast reminds me of my dad. Way back, 40 years ago this past June Dad did something that no one I know has been able to duplicate. I wasn’t there to witness it happen but my brother and sister were and they both tell the same story. In fact my brother is sort of the family historian when it comes to memorable fishing events. For this story he can tell it to you like it happened yesterday.
Dad had been retired from SAS Airlines for about a year. It was late in the afternoon on June 5th 1983 and he had completed most of what he needed to do around the house and he decided it would be a great time to take his first ride of the year down to the beach with my brother and make a few casts.
Living next door was my sister Karen and her family and when she heard dad was going down the beach for a couple of hours she decided to tag along for the ride and bring along her 1-1/2-year-old daughter, Rachel. Everyone loaded into dad’s old K5 Blazer with all the necessary gear and they even included the family dog, Skippy. When they hit the sand the sun was still high in the sky as it would be in the late afternoon in June. Dad found a spot that looked favorable between a couple of bait fisherman with rods spiked and jumped out of the truck the moment he shut down the engine.
It was every man, woman, child and dog to himself as dad was on a mission and he wasn’t going to assist anyone getting out of the truck. He snatched his old glass 11-footer off the truck with the Crack 300 attached. The reel was spooled with our favorite line at the time, pink Ande, 20-pound. He dug his waders out from the back of his truck and slipped them on. Then he looked at his tin assortment and he found his favorite, a Hopkins NO EQL #4 with a single hook wrapped with bucktail and tied with red thread. He attached this to his snap and walked to the water’s edge.
He made his first cast of the year and after it hit the water he allowed it to sink several seconds before placing the line on the roller and to begin his retrieve. When he re-lived this story he told me he didn’t remember the number of cranks he had made but soon after he started to reel he felt a hard strike and his natural reflex kicked in and he brought his rod straight up to set the hook. His rod went down hard and after a few moments he realized that what was on the end of the line was not an ordinary fish.
The fish put a big strain on that old glass rod and line was peeling off the Crack 300 at a good rate. Dad was patient, knowing that letting the fish fight the rod and drag would ultimately win the battle, and after several minutes of back and forth the fish was slowly giving up the fight. He skillfully timed the waves and used them to allow the fish to wash up onto the beach. When the wave receded all he could see was the huge head of a 30-pound class fish with the single 7/0 siwash stuck in the side of the mouth.
He quickly ran over to the fish and dragged it away from the water as the other anglers who were there, possibly for hours, stared in disbelief at this guy who just drove up, made a cast and pulled out a cow. What they didn’t realize was this was dad’s first cast of the year! Dad told everyone that he wanted to weigh the fish and needed to leave the beach to get to the tackle store before they closed. After being on the beach less than an hour, they threw everything back in the truck and hauled off for the shop where the fish hit the 33-pound, 10-ounce mark.
My dad’s been gone now for 22 years and even though my memories of him will never fade, this is one memory I have every year when I make that first trip to the beach. It’s a simple matter of fact that everyone who fishes the surf has just one chance every season to match what my father did 40 years ago, and for the past 40 seasons I’ve made 40 first casts and still haven’t duplicated his amazing feat. Honestly, I probably have a better chance of winning the MEGA MILLIONS jackpot than duplicating what he did, but I’ll keep trying, every new season.