We were awake and down at the marina before dawn, signed in, fishing pole and tackle all in order, Bonine (and not Dramamine) already working its magic. Kind of early, but otherwise, this fishing thing was lovely – just lovely. I could see a future doing this.
We had to go bobbing along the coast of California almost two hours to reach the fishable part. I spent most of the ‘getting there’ voyage devising a much more effective transport system, one that provides for way more sleep and way less bobbing.
It was my first time fishing. Fishing had never interested me. Ever. It’s not as if I wasn’t vaguely familiar with it. I’d watched plenty of Andy of Mayberry and Opie strolling down a country road on the way to the pond. I’d read Ernest Hemingway. I spent years living in oh-so-pretty Decorah that sits in the Driftless Region (a landscape created by glaciers that ran into each other and wouldn’t back down). It’s a spring-fed wonderland and a favorite of trout fishermen. Still, it never once occurred to me to give fishing a try.
But there I was because A. wanted to go and wanted me to go with him and I’m nothing if not some whacked trouper.
And then the actual fishing started. We dropped our lines down 240-270 feet. Easy to get there -wheee! -but a whole lot of ‘what the hell!!’ to get back up. All the nice instructions for how to hold my reel were ignored with gusto during the ascent.
Thanks to the wonderful, uber-alert crew, though, my initial struggles with keeping my line taut and out of tangles were repaired easily and I was catching fish. Sometimes, two at a time. Rock fish.
Because I had no expectations at all, I didn’t expect it to be so bloody hard but neither did I expect the amazing-ness of seeing a fish rise from the depths – literally connected to me. I have ocean conservationist friends, some who sit on boards of foundations and thanks to their advocacy, I’ve become much more sensitive about our fishy populations. I did quite a bit of surreptitious research before we left, trying to feel confident we weren’t doing damage.
I’m glad I did some soul-exploring, but knew that with a pole in hand, there was no way to be cavalier about catching a fish. And that was a great discovery for a first time fisher. Fisherman. Fisherperson.
There’s always something we haven’t done and so face a first time. Should we even attempt to conquer all those firsts? Should we wait for an opportunity to present itself or seek them out? When an opportunity appears, will we do it, try it? Or settle into our current life’s comfort and frame the thing – food, an experience, a sport, a trip, a person – as something we don’t care about.
First times that we want to do, that we dream of, are easy (well, unless the truth surprises us. Look – caviar’s not for everyone. Long train trips can turn excruciatingly dull. The French really can be rude. Who can’t?) It’s first times I haven’t wanted to do that have so often opened up whole new parts of my head. I think I’ll try a little hard to have more of those. These.