You'll catch more than fish if you share the day with a friend

info@islandpacket.comNovember 14, 2011 

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? It happens to me way too often and this time, of all times for this strange phenomena to occur, it hit me just about the time I sat down to write this column. So what is the song? I'm embarrassed to say it's the theme song from the old "Beverly Hillbillies" TV show: "Then one day he was shooting at some food, and up through the ground came a bubblin' crude. ... Oil, that is. Black gold."

I know what you're thinking, and it's probably along the lines that Collins Doughtie is one strange cookie. But that's OK because I've heard that one my entire life. But hear me out because I think I know why that song is bouncing around in my head like a pinball machine gone haywire. First of all, I was out foraging for food and secondly, I did strike gold. It wasn't gold gold, it was more of a brownish gold.

Now concentrate, because by now you're probably humming the "Hillbilly" tune, which I swear wasn't intentional. As you have probably guessed, this all has something to do with fishing. Actually, it has more to do with catching, and what I caught was fish and a friendship. Now that's quite a combo.

It happened Nov. 2. For weeks, I had tried to hook up with Dr. Ben Parker and take him offshore, but every time we planned a trip something would come up. Without a doubt Bluffton's most popular vet, Ben would get called in to save a precious pet or the weather would turn to stink. This went on and on until we decided to turn off our cellphones and go no matter what. And wouldn't you know it, when he stepped on the boat the wind started blowing 20 to 30 knots. But wind or no wind, we were going.

Offshore was out of the question, but I remembered a spot that usually held some big flounder this time of the year. I wasn't sure they would be there, but it was about the only option. Ben has always been my vet, but there was just something about him that made me think he would be fun to fish with, and his sense of humor was right up my alley. And because the wind was hitting us right in the face we had to go at a snail's pace to my spot, but that gave us time to talk and get to know one another. By the time we reached our destination, I felt like we had known each other for years.

Flounder fishing is an art, and patience is the key. Dropping down our baits, it didn't take long before Ben's rod tip jumped once and bent slightly. I knew it was a flounder was down there with Ben's bait in its mouth. "Patience, grasshopper," I told Ben, "Let him eat it." After what seemed like an eternity, the fish moved off and the circle hook did its job. I knew it was big, but it wasn't until I saw that flounder that I realized how big it was. Netting the fish, I dropped him in the boat and it was like trying to grab a greased pig. In the process, the sucker bit me with his huge teeth. Bleeding profusely, I turn to Ben and all he says is, "Hey, I can sew that up." I'm not sure why his statement hit my funny bone, but I sat there laughing until tears were running down my face. If the flounder bite wasn't enough, out of nowhere this huge wall of water hits me square in the face like a fire hose. Both of us began laughing, and it didn't stop for the rest of the afternoon.

From that first fish on we hammered the flounder. Maybe it was the barometer, but whatever it was, they were eating everything we threw at them. I love to fish with new people, which I do quite often, but it isn't often that you fish with that one person that it seems to you were meant to meet. We had a blast catching doormats, but quite honestly, it was the camaraderie that made this day so special.

Sure, we both came away with a nice sack of fresh flounder filets, but more importantly, we came away with a lot more and that is friendship. And that, my friends, is hard to beat.

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