The Early Years
I have found that most people who enjoy the outdoors as adults were exposed to the joys of nature at an early age through a grandparent, uncle or parent. I however, was lucky enough to experience it with all three. I grew up hunting and fishing and enjoyed it all the way until I turned into a baseball obsessed teenager. After I discovered baseball, nature took a backseat. I had found a new passion and let that take over all of my time.
After high school I went to a college in East Texas (Go Kats!) that happened to be near a great state park and a wonderful lake. I spent many a class periods in the woods and along the shores of Lake Raven redeveloping my love of the outdoors. Unfortunately for me, not many of my fishing lessons from my childhood held over.
Back At It
I quickly realized that I wanted to get back into fishing so with a credit card and a dream I made my way to a nearby big box store. While shopping I called on my past experiences with two of my grandfathers – Grandpa River (a fisherman) and Grandpa Tractor (a farmer). I fondly remember fighting reds and speckled trout with my Grandpa River, my mom’s father, and his advice when it came to line. “Hardheads will eat your line if you let them” he always said as I clung to a long rod with a heavy line attached to even heavier sinkers. “Big bait gets the big fish” was another favorite of his and everyone knows that a child will always want the biggest! So with these memories in mind, I headed down the fishing aisle of the store and purchased some familiar look fishing gear. I made my purchases and walked out carrying a brand new long, heavy and strong fishing pole, thick as steel line, and some mean looking hooks. I also grabbed some heavy sinkers, bobbers, and other “essential” fishing items. “Yep.” I thought walking out, “Grandpa River would be proud!”
After my successful trip to get my gear I headed out to the lake where my buddy and I planned to go out fishing. When I pulled up my buddy gave me a funny look and laughingly asked if i planned on catching a gator. I asked in confusion, “No, why? Are there gators near by?” I found it both funny and odd that he was laughing at me but continued to unload my gear regardless. I finished unloading after about fifteen minutes- within that time my buddy had landed two bass and a cat! I then began to fix up my rig while he laughed again at my expense as I fumbled around with my new toys.
After a few more minutes of rigging I was finally able to get my bait- worms! – in the water. I remembered that I was fishing fresh water and that dead shrimp was not the best choice for the lake- well that and the store didn’t have any. As I waited for my bobber to sink I glanced over at my buddy’s pole and gear as well as another fellow’s gear who was fishing nearby and noticed that their poles were much smaller than mine. I began to wonder why when I felt a tug on my line- not much but it was something! I jerked the rod back causing me to lose the fish. “Oh well.” I thought to myself as I re-baited and got back in the water. This time I decided to keep the bait closer to the dock and use a giant worm wrapped around my hook. I was not going to miss this time!
I slowly reeled the worm in towards the dock and let it sit almost right about against it and then WHAM! My line took off. I tightened down the line and gave it a good strong pull back and before I knew it I was yelling DUCK! That fish took off like a rocket- flying out of the water faster than you could snap your fingers. My buddy once again, could not stop laughing.
You see, what I didn’t realize was that I was drawing on memories of fishing with my Grandpa River on the Texas Coast – not a shoreline dock in East Texas lake! I had always gone saltwater fishing with heavy rods and reels made for salt and offshore fishing; hence my earlier purchases. Needless to say, my 7 ft heavy action spin reel, much like a broomstick for offshore fishing, and 60lb mono line, which might as well have been rope, was a bit overkill for catching bass and cats off a dock. That cat took my bait in what was probably about 3 feet of water and had no idea what was in store for it.
After having a good laugh with my buddy over my flying cat, I decided then and there that I needed to consider some fishing lessons and reconsider my choice in gear. I quickly realized my buddy wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough to re-teach me how to fish but thankfully the gentleman on the other end of the dock was more than willing to share his fishing tips and knowledge. After a short conversation with him even my laughing buddy was was taking notes. After he gave me an hour long lesson, my passion for fishing was rekindled and I had a good idea of the new gear I needed to go purchase. I had a plan and I was going to dive head first in! Before that however, I was in need of a road trip- to the coast.
Author: Brad Martin, ACK Employee