If you haven't already figured it out, I have quite the stable of young guns to whom I taught the art of fishing. Almost without exception, each of these young men are now avid anglers. One of them is my wife's nephew J.P. Tooke who hails from Houston.
The same age as my son Logan, now 24, JP used to spend summers with Logan when he was a teen. The two of them were bona fide "marsh monkeys," spending every waking moment exploring the salt marshes, fishing off the dock and just plain having a ball. Even at night the two of them would forgo watching TV in favor of fishing off the dock until the wee hours of the morning. Now, that is something when you consider today's 15 year olds don't put down their computers or cellphones for anything.
After they graduated from high school, they went their separate ways. It wasn't until I went to Houston to visit my wife's folks that I saw J.P. again -- for the first time in years. He was the same J.P. -- but now taller than me. The thing I wanted to find out the most from him was whether he still loves fishing. As we started talking it didn't take but two minutes before he started telling me about all his fishing exploits. I could see that gleam in his eye when he relayed story after story about his more noble catches.
J.P. had become a master carp angler. I didn't know what to think about this until he showed me pictures of carp that were just gigantic. I kid you not, these carp were the size of a VW bug. One thing led to another, and I told him he was welcome to come visit me anytime and, should he decide to come, that maybe we could relive some of those summers, which had left him with a ton of fond memories of fishing and of the Lowcountry.
Shortly after returning from Houston, I got a call from J.P. telling me he had bought a plane ticket and would be here for a week. He wanted to know if I would I take him fishing. As you can imagine, it doesn't take much to entice me to get out on the water, so I told him I would get my work done so he and I could fish, shrimp and explore all week long.
Quite honestly, I think I was more excited then he was.
It was as though this trip were meant to be. I got an offshore fishing invite from my friend Bob Murray the day after J.P. arrived. Bob told me to bring J.P. along. This was going to be the christening trip for Bob's new 36-foot center console Grady-White with three 350 hp engines. J.P.'s eyes just about popped out of his head when we showed up in the predawn hours and he saw the ride we were getting ready to take. What a start!
Running across a flat, calm ocean at 53 mph is quite the sensation. All day, we brought up a variety of bottom fish: red snapper, vermillion snapper, grouper, sea bass, trigger fish, amberjack ... you name and we caught 'em.
This is where youth comes in handy because after a full day offshore, I was beat. But at 7 the next morning, J.P. was up and ready to go again. This time we planned to stay inshore and try for redfish, trout and flounder. J.P. hadn't seen my other nephew, Johnny Bringus, in years, so Johnny went with us. It was dèj
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.