My wife surprised me by planning a fishing trip at 61st Street Pier in Galveston Island. A friend of ours went there last week and he said that we must try it before the Summer ends. He said that there is an abundance of fishes this year and he even caught a 2 feet shark. His story stirred our interest to try something different .
The timing couldn’t be more right. I had a 5 days off and my wife wanted to do something special for me and my son. I’m impressed that she wanted to have an outdoor activity knowing that the temperature would be in the sizzling 100 degrees that day. Unlike me, she is not an avid fan of the Sun. While I savor its warm rays with open arms , she would be hiding under the shade. I thought it was sweet of her to get out of her comfort zone. She knew that one of my son’s Summer wish list is to go fishing and catch his first fish. We tried at the Brazos Bend the last time but we’re unsuccessful. This time we’re determined to make his dream into reality.
We left the house around 06:00 A.M., all excited on our fishing adventure. Honestly, It’s been a while since I went fishing. I admit that I was rusty and hopefully my son won’t notice it. I felt as much of a beginner as he was. Isn’t that embarrassing? But the fishing trip was not about me, it was about my son experiencing the joys of the sport with his family.
It was almost 07:00 A.M. when we reached the Pier. My son said he was hungry so we passed by McDonald’s for some breakfast. He had 2 pieces of chocolate cookies. Just perfect to boost his energy level. I had my caffeine fix to make sure that I was fully alert and functional. Just before we left the car to head for the Fishing Pier my wife asked me, ” Is the car moving?” I replied, “No, the car is not moving?” She asked again, “Are you sure it’s not moving?” I answered back, ” Yes, I’m sure!” By then I realized that from my excitement I forgot to step on the brakes. I told myself, ” duh? ” We both laughed on my first blooper of the day. There were more to come.
The guy who sold us the fish bait which were simply frozen shrimps that my freezer could have produced, told us that these are the possible fishes that we may catch in the Galveston waters. My son told me, ” get me a shark dad.” As I looked at my tiny fishhook I replied with much optimism, ” I’ll try my best.” In my head I was telling myself, ” probably not with this small fishing rod.” Again, this was all about my son making a memorable fishing adventure.
I told everyone, ” here we go, let’s catch some fish,” as I follow my son who was pulling me hurriedly towards the fishing deck. I told my wife, ” Sorry but you’re going to be our camera guy. I’m relinquishing to you the iPhone camera. My hands would all be stinky with both the fish and the shrimp bait.” After a quick instruction, she started clicking and capturing the day’s event. Judging from the photos, I would say she did pretty good.
Call it beginners luck but we caught a Yellow Tail just within 5 minutes of throwing our first hook. It was luck all right because it took almost an hour to get another fish to bite the next bait. My son kept shouting, ” we caught a fish, we caught a fish,” as he rushed to call his mom. We were all excited. After a few pictures, it was time to take the hook out of the fish mouth. I then realized that I needed a glove or a towel to hold the fish because it was slimy and had spikes on it. The nearest I could grab was my white handkerchief while my wife ran to buy a hand towel at the Pier’s store. I thought all I need was a fishing rod, a hook and some bait. Boy, was I wrong. It is a skilled activity that requires the right equipment, basic knowledge and a bit of experience. Blooper number 2.
It felt like forever to remove the fish-hook. The Yellow Tail was trashing left and right. I tried using the pliers to take it out of its mouth but to no avail. My son sat next to me as he held the rest of the nylon wire. He was a great assistant. I told my wife, ” did I bring the wrong tool?” I felt bad for the fish. In my panic moment, I decided to cut the nylon wire. Eventually, I was able to remove the hook and set the fish free. I found out later that I did bring the right tool. I was just not using it correctly. Blooper number 3.
My wife excitedly called me to go to the opposite side of the deck. She saw a school of Mullet Fish. We thought they would be an easy catch. We waited and waited. After a while, an older man approached us. He told us that the Mullets don’t eat fish bait but plankton. No wonder I’m the only one fishing on that side. I was a bit embarrassed due to my ignorance. I read later that they actually eat detritus. Blooper number 4.
Mr. curious got bored and decided to talk to this gentleman who caught a lot of catfish. He was more than happy to share the tricks of the trade. I saw my wife smiling when she heard their conversation. My son is fond of using big words that sounds both amusing and funny when he says them. He addressed the bigger boys as “dude.” I would remind him to properly ask and call them by their first names.
False alarm. It was only a seaweed. My son went back to the older guy who this time caught two eels intertwined with each other. It was amazing. How they happened to bite at the same time was a fascinating mystery.
Finally, we caught our second fish. It was a small catfish. My son was jumping from sheer joy and excitement. He kept saying, ” so cute, so cute.” I told him that it’s still a baby and needs to rejoin his family. After taking out the hook, we let it go.
Another 30 minutes went by without any signs of our third catch. I was getting bored and restless myself. I’m just as active as my son and it’s hard for me to stay put in one place after a certain amount of time. It was also getting uncomfortably hot and humid. My vision started to blur. To keep me entertained, I would stare at the beach front which was getting busier as more people arrived , setting their beach umbrellas. I saw a couple of surfers riding their waves.
Just when I thought that the fishes were just not into my bait, a kind-hearted man in his 60’s approached me. He was with his grandson who loves fishing. We talked for a while , then he checked my fish hooks and diagnosed the problem. I was using the wrong size hook. Blooper number 5. He gave me two smaller hooks as well as a sinker. He also told me to cut the bait into half. Most of the fish that morning were small Catfish, Yellow Tails and Croakers. He also asked me to join him where he was fishing. My son and his grandson immediately bonded. So did we.
As soon as I used the right hook with the right size of bait, we were catching fishes in quick succession. We were so happy with the new turn of event. It reminded me of the saying, “when it rains, it pours.” By the time we’re finished, we had about 17 fishes in our cooler. The gratifying feeling was beyond words. We were on cloud 9.
The fishing adventure was both a learning and an awakening experience for me. Obviously, it thought me and my son the basics of fishing which hopefully would make us better fishermen on our next visit at the pier. The other invaluable lessons are the following:
First, learn from your mistakes. I made several bloopers in this trip but that’s nothing compared to some of the major mistakes in my life. What’s important is that I was able to accept and find ways to solve them. It may take a long time but I was able to move on and rise above a painful situation.
Third, don’t be afraid to ask or accept help. There are a lot of generous and kind-hearted people out there. I met several during this trip. During my lowest moments, my family helped me unconditionally. When I was down, they picked me up, nurture my wounds and helped me to recovery. I would do the same for them in a heartbeat.
Fourth, live your life. Have fun. Chill-out. Take a deep breath and exhale freely in all abandonment. For the past year, there’s so much news of death and sickness in the family that it made realize how fragile and unpredictable human life is. I made my rule, ” live today like it’s the best day ever.” That’s partly one reason I made this Summer adventures with my family. Life is to short and uncertain to waste.
Fifth, make beautiful and lasting memories with your family. Money is not everything. Material things can’t buy you real happiness but the love you and your family share is bound to last a lifetime. Today, my son and I spent 3 hours at the pool. He had so much fun swimming, sliding down the water tube and playing with the other kids. It didn’t cost me a dime but it did involve quality time with him. Just before he took a nap, he gave me a hug and told me how happy he was. I kissed him and hugged him back. I also whispered, ” I had a great time too, we’ll go back to the pool tomorrow.”