Fishing has its ups and downs – Island Packet

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “You are the luckiest person I know because you get to fish all the time,” I would be in the Forbe’s Top 100.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being out on the water and I love to fish more than about anything, but believe me when I say that although this lifestyle has its perks it has its down side, too.

I’ll admit that I often considered fishing for a living but, having been a mate on charter boats all my teen years, I learned that fishing every single day is not all that glamorous. If I had to pick one thing that kept me on the advertising and graphic design fast track, it would be the physical part of being a charter captain. After a full day of fishing, I come home feeling like someone has beaten me over the head with a 10-pound flounder. Just getting ready to fish for a full day is a lot of hard work. You have to fill the boat with gas, load coolers with ice, make sandwiches, make sure you have all the tackle organized, get bait and the list just goes on and on.

Then there is the anticipation factor. Even now, I have a hard time falling asleep if I know I am heading out the next morning. I don’t need an alarm clock because, without exception, I wake up exactly five minutes before the alarm was set to go off. So right off the bat, I’m tired. Then I make several trips lugging everything to the boat and, before the lines are cast off, I am soaked with sweat.

It’s one thing when you are fishing by yourself. But when other people are expecting you to put them on fish, the pressure is most definitely on. I don’t care how good of a fisherman you might be because some days the fish couldn’t care less if you are Ernest Hemingway because they simply don’t want to bite. On other days, you might spend hours looking for bait like menhaden, yet the day before they were everywhere as you were heading to fuel up the boat for this trip. Believe me when I say it happens.

Then you have the summer months when it is 100 degrees in the shade. I don’t think they make a suntan lotion that can stop eight hours of exposure to this kind of sun. Not only is it shining down on you from above, it is reflecting up from the water. Without naming names, I have a couple of charter boat captain friends whose skin is so tough and wrinkly their skin could replace the Kevlar soldiers in Afghanistan wear to stop bullets. I do my best to stay in the shade, but it’s a lost cause.

Nowadays, I found that the best solution is to never ever look at myself in the mirror. The sunspots down both sides of my forehead are starting to take the shape of one of those pictures of Jesus that you often see on the news. You know what I’m talking about — the guy who gets a pizza and sees the Lord’s face in the pepperoni or the Virgin Mary’s image in a bowl of oatmeal. Laugh all you want, but it’s the price you pay for being out in the sun and the wind day after day.

Without revealing my actual age, my hands could easily pass for a mummy’s hands. Hooks stick in them, knives cut em, fish spines impale them and after a full day of offshore fishing, my hands swell up like balloons. So what’s the best remedy for this particular occupational hazard? Soak them in pure Clorox. It stings a bit but you can actually see the sores bubbling. Gross huh? Gross or not, Clorox sure as heck kills all the germs, and believe me when I say most saltwater fish carry a heap of germs that can cause infections, especially if one spines you or even worse, bites you.

Totally switching gears, I have to tell you a fish story that happened this week.

Bubba Carter, the son of one of this area’s earliest captains, Eddie Carter, did something that is the talk of the entire world fishing community. Bubba got his start right here until he moved to Costa Rica and is considered one of the top billfish captains anywhere.

Eddie texted me the news that in one day this week Bubba raised 29 blue marlin and boated 25 of them! I immediately congratulated Bubba and learned that he had pulled off his best day ever over FAD fish attractors that he and other captains had placed offshore. Simply put, a FAD is a very heavy weight that sits on the bottom with a heavy rope with large floats attached along its length yet doesn’t reach the surface so only you know where it is. As growth develops on the floats and rope, it attracts small fish, which in turn attracts big fish like blue marlin. Regardless, landing that many marlin in a day is a first for me and I know Eddie is in hog heaven. Congrats again Bubba, you did us proud!