Cast & Blast

A now older Lowcountry fisherman looks back on his days on the water with his dad

Dad and I with blue marlin in mid 1970s.
Dad and I with blue marlin in mid 1970s. Submitted photo

During the warm months, fishing comes first and thankfully my wife Karen knows it. But just as soon as that first cold snap hits, its “honey do” time because fishing is no longer a valid excuse to put aside home projects that have piled up for months.

It was during a closet purge this past weekend that I came across a tattered shoebox full of old photos. Looking for any excuse to let Karen do most of the purging, I sat cross-legged on the floor sifting through images that brought back a flood of memories that I had hidden away in an equally dusty corner in that odd shaped melon that some call my brain.

Many of the photos were of my dad and I fishing over the years before he passed away. Both of my parents were awesome people. For my dad, Charles W. Doughtie, to give up a lucrative career in advertising on Madison Avenue in New York and then have the nerve to both sell and convince my mom to pack up all five kids and move to a desolate island off the coast of South Carolina was a truly masterful stroke.

Back then, Hilton Head was all dirt roads with no schools, one tiny grocery store and a place where deer far outnumbered people.

Sitting there on the floor, I tried to put myself in his place and came to the conclusion that I would have opted out of making such a radical decision. But because he made this bold move, he forever shaped me into the outdoor and fishing fanatic I am today.

An avid angler himself, I was the only son that latched onto fishing more so than my two brothers. Even with this kinship, we definitely had our moments and, in some cases, I am sure he would have gladly given me up for adoption. But once over those humps, we were joined at the hip whenever we ventured out on the open ocean.

There is just something about a long day on the ocean together that brought down barriers that seemed ever present while on land. I think it’s being no more than a few feet from one another all day long in one of God’s greatest creations that tears down any and all walls.

Both of my parents possessed incredible wit, along with an abundant sense of humor. It’s the humor aspect I would like to tackle when it came to dad and I and fishing. You may find these examples tasteless but they still bring a huge smile to my face when I journey back to these ultimate moments of father/son camaraderie.

Cool or not

Like myself, Dad always had a designated “fish-mobile.

Hooks hanging from visors, rods sticking out everywhere like the quills of a porcupine and a distinctly fishy smell that permeated every inch of the car’s interior. His most notable fish-mobile was a blue and white Datsun 510, which on occasion he would let me borrow. It was around 1969, I was 17 years old and yes, I dabbled in the black arts of the times.

After I returned his 510 one time, dad headed down the island and along the way picked up a teenage hitchhiker. As the two of them chatted away, the kid begins squirming like he might have sat on a rock or something. He reaches under his bottom and pulls out a small, metal pot pipe. I won’t admit to anything but it was what the kid said to my dad that will forever stick with me.

Holding it up for my dad to see he proclaims, “Hey man, you sure are a one cool daddy-o!”

I think I was on probation until I was 21.

Family tradition

Once, Dad, my brother Dan and I went into an Arkansas Wal-Mart to get tackle and fishing licenses for trout fishing.

Along with fishing, breaking wind was always a source of humor in my family. My oldest brother Tim even reached national fame as part of a wind ensemble call the Phart-O-Phonics.

Being the last to get my fishing license, I go to the tackle aisle and there stands my bro and my dad. Sneaking up to the two of them I ... well, I think you know what I did. Seemingly unfazed, my dad turns to me and says “Nice one Collins” as he points behind me.

Turning around, not more than a few inches from my derriere is a poor sales girl on her hands and knees restocking a shelf.

Needless to say, all three of us barely made it back to his house alive. It’s hard to drive safely when your eyes are all teared up and your stomach hurts from laughing. To this day, I still chuckle whenever I hit the tackle aisle in any Wal-Mart.

I hope I haven’t damaged my reputation with this column but these two funny experiences with my dad would have never occurred if he had not started me fishing when I was barely old enough to hold a fishing pole.

He taught me to love angling, the ocean and most of all, our bond with each other.

So take your kid fishing and I guarantee a relationship that will stick with you a lifetime.