I did something last weekend I haven't done in a long time. I went fishing with my wife.
Surprised? It's funny, but out of all my friends who are either charter captains or avid fisherman, I can think of only a couple who regularly fish with their wives. So when Karen came up to me and asked me to take her fishing, I didn't know what to think. At first I wondered if she'd gone and bought some expensive item and was buttering me up before springing the news on me -- or worse, she was about to tell me something like, "I'm leaving you because you love fishing more than you love me, plus you always smell like a fish."
You might have gotten a chuckle out of that last line but during my teen years and beyond I lost more girlfriends because of my passion for fishing than for any other reason. And the line "you love to fish more than you love me" was usually the last thing I heard from each of those lasses. But when I found Karen, she was a dream come true. She actually encourages me to go fishing.
If I were the suspicious type, I might wonder why she is always so fired up to get rid of me. Knowing that I am always hooking or cutting myself, is she playing the percentages by taking out a large insurance policy on me? Is there, uh, another man?
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But after more than 15 years together, I think she is one of the few women I have ever met who realizes that I am a better person after a day on the water. I am more relaxed, easier to be around, plus since I do all the cooking, she gets to sample some mighty fine vittles after a day of me foraging in and around our waters.
Karen is no stranger to water, having lived and worked on Daufuskie Island for many years. Back when she had her company, Daufuskie Seafaris, she commuted to work each and every day by herself on some of the lamest excuses for boats imaginable. If it rained, she drove through it. If the wind howled and the seas were rough it didn't stop her from making the run all the way from Broad Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island to Freeport Marina on Daufuskie. And on the nights when she would host large group functions on Daufuskie, she would make the run back to Hilton Head by herself very late at night with no running lights, simply because they never worked.
Now that is my kind of gal.
Back to my day with Karen. Since it had been some time since she had done any type of fishing with me, I decided to make it an "easy" day. One thing I do know about women and fishing is this: For some reason they feel the need to spend at least an hour getting ready to simply hop on a boat. Let me clarify: I don't mean "getting ready" as in helping with the bait, rods, etc., but rather "getting ready" as in putting on makeup. I will never figure out why women feel the need to put on makeup and meticulously style their hair when they are going fishing. Maybe I'm wrong, but I seriously doubt that fish look up and say, "Wow, what a knock out! I think I'll bite on her hook." I guess it's just a girl thing.
After some primping time, we were in the boat and on our way south. It was a little cramped with all the towels, bottles of lotions, bags of this and bags of that she brought along, but that was OK. If fate caught up with us and a nuclear war erupted while we were out, we could have survived for months on all the things she brought. Heck, I never would have thought to bring along a Cuisinart. Them women think of everything!
Arriving at one of my super-secret fishing spots, we baited up and began fishing. Karen can throw a cast net as well as any man and is pretty darn good with a spinning rod, but it had been a while and she was a tad rusty.
Because my back requires a backrest, I sat on the seat in the back of the boat while she fished from the front. Do you know where I am going with this? Whoosh! I felt something fly right by the right side of my head and if it was a fly it was day-glo orange and had a sinker and hook hanging off its leg.
I didn't say anything but I hugged the deck from that point on.
We had to move a couple of times before we found fish but, once we did, she and I had a blast. We caught and released a number of redfish, a few trout and a hodgepodge of the other species, and she really got into it. She even said she was ready to go offshore, something she has never done because of a fear of getting seasick.
I see the same couples fishing together time after time when I go down to the Ogeechee River in Georgia, and it always makes me wish my wife would join me more often. Maybe this day together was the turning point.
Finally, my two-part "How to Fish The Lowcountry" seminars will be from 5:30 to 6 p.m. today and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Waddell Mariculture Center's river house. Reservations are required by either e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 843-816-6608.