On January 2 of most years, you’ll find me down at the nearest sporting goods store buying my annual California State Fishing License. This has been true since I ‘discovered’ saltwater fishing about 15 years ago, after my wife gifted me with saltwater fishing tackle one Christmas.
This year was the exception to the rule. In the midst of all the getting-used-to-having-cancer hubbub, I managed to forget all about fishing. Yesterday, my friend David treated me to a half-day trip on the Monte Carlo, a local ‘party boat’ out of San Pedro’s 22nd Street Landing.
We traveled up the coast a short distance and fished just off Palos Verdes. The morning cloud cover had lifted to reveal brilliant blue skies dotted with wisps of cirrus clouds. The breeze was faint, allowing us to fish in shirtsleeves while enjoying the sun (I’m a 70 spf gal, myself). Even the tide was helpful, sending our bait out to the kelp where calico bass, aka kelp bass, waited to pounce on our bait. Oh yeh, NOW I remember: I really, really love saltwater fishing!
When I fish, I don’t worry about work, lovers, friends, politics, global warming…or even whether I catch a fish. The fascination is in the ritual: choosing the right hook and sinker, putting the bait on the hook so it doesn’t fly off before it hits the water, casting so your line doesn’t tangle with another fisherman’s. Then…you pay attention. And wait. With live bait, you can tell when you’re about to get a bite when your bait starts swimming crazily through the water trying to escape the oncoming fish. The trick is in hesitating just long enough for the fish to bite the baited hook, then swing, set the hook, and reel the fish in. Usually you know what kind of fish you almost have by the quality of the bite; bass slam the bait, perch peck at it, halibut hold it in their mouths forever before a few heavy yanks tell you they’re hooked. Still, you don’t really know what’s hooked until you see color (the fish in the water beneath the boat). And you don’t actually have the fish until you’ve gotten it on deck. Watching it swim off your hook as it nears the boat doesn’t count as catching.
David and I both left the Monte Carlo as happy fisher-people, fresh-caught filets bagged securely for tonight’s dinner. We’ve agreed we’ll absolutely be doing this more often. I’m even planning a trip in September for six of my female friends, all novice saltwater fisherwomen.
Who knew that relaxation, camaraderie and fish for dinner were so easy to achieve in one afternoon? Just add salt water!