Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sissy that is not how you bait shrimp on a hook

“Sissy that is not how you bait shrimp on a hook.”  This is how the conversation started.

Early this month, my husband, Tim, and I went on a beach vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  And, my favorite thing to do at the beach is to fish off the pier.   So, the first morning we were there, I got up early, grabbed my tackle box and said, “Let’s go fishing!”  I was so excited!


After about an hour of fishing, an older man sitting on the bench next to me saw I was not catching anything.  So, he decided to step in and help.  The first thing he said was that I was not baiting my shrimp on the hook correctly.  He said I needed to shell the shrimp, cut it in half, and then put the hook through the top end of the shrimp, push it back on the hook, twist it, and then thread the bottom of the shrimp on the hook.  Evidently, that was only one of many things I was doing wrong. 

So, now I knew how to bait my hook.  I then proceeded to cast my line out into the ocean.  The man simply hung his head and shook it as if he were completely appalled at what I had just done.  I reluctantly said, “Did I do that wrong?”  He lifted his head…looked directly out to the ocean and kept shaking his head side to side.  I said, “I guess I did?”  He turned his head toward me and said, “Sissy, how long have you been fishing?”  I said, “All my life.”  He asked if I ever caught much.  My thought in the moment was that I didn’t like this guy much.  He looked like a vagrant, smelled like fish, and was really annoying.   I looked over to my husband, hoping he would save me from this man, but he was reading his book and paying absolutely no attention to what was going on. Uh huh. So, I looked at the man and said, “No, I really never catch many fish.”  Then I felt like hanging my head.  I just know Tim was listening and laughing under his breath. 


“Well Sissy, let me show you how to cast out your line.”  No one had called me Sissy, except one good friend…and my dad before he died.  I wasn’t sure if he meant it sarcastically or if he was trying to be endearing?  Either way I didn’t like it.  So, I said, “My name is Kim.”  He said, “Ok, my name is Jim.”  So, there we all were…Kim, Tim and now Jim.  I said, “It’s nice to meet you.”

 I lied. 

Jim then proceeded to show me how to cast out my line underhanded from the pier.  This made me really nervous.  I felt like I was going to throw my pole in the water.  But, after about 15 tries and a lot of head shaking by Jim, I had figured it out…and I was quite proud.  You would have thought I had won an Oscar!  I was standing tall and proud on the pier! 

But, as if someone stole the Oscar right out of my hands, I wasn’t feeling quite as proud when Jim said, “Ok, you got the line in the water…what do you do now?”  I said, “Wait?”  He rolled his eyes.  I guess that was not the right answer.  He proceeded to say, “Fishing is a sport.  If you wait, you will not catch fish.  You should always be playing the sport.”  I told Jim that evidently I did not know how to play.  He said, “Lift your pole up until you feel the weight of your leader.”  So, I did this…and almost immediately I could feel the fish nibbling at the bait.  I jerked the pole up and caught the fish.  It was only about an 8 inch mullet, but it was a fish all the same.  I was so excited …again!

But, as I expected, Jim took away my joy.  He said, “When you pull back on the pole to catch a fish, you can’t let it drop back down.  You will lose the fish.”  
That should be easy enough...or so I thought. 
So, I baited my shrimp, casted out my line, held it up to feel the weight, felt the fish bite and jerked back on the pole…only to drop it back down.  I knew I had failed the test immediately.  So, I looked over at Jim and said, “I need practice.”  He said, “Yeah.” 

But, at this point, I started catching fish…it was awesome!   I was even catching some really interesting stuff like eels and crabs.
And, Jim seemed genuinely excited for me…he actually smiled!  We started talking and he told me his wife had died several years earlier, and he was alone most of the time.  He said he fished as often as he could to keep his mind occupied.  He loved the guys who fished at the pier, and he loved to eat fish…so it was a win, win for Jim.   

Everyone at the pier seemed to love Jim too.  No one could pass him by without saying hello or asking him how many fish he had caught that day.  It was in that moment I realized how much Jim reminded me of my dad.  Everyone loved my dad, and he too would drop his head when he was trying to teach me something...and I just couldn’t get it.  He would often follow the head shaking with the words, “Oh boy!”   I never heard Jim say, “Oh boy,” but I know with my heart of hearts he was thinking it. 

I teared up and kept on fishing.  This was something Dad and I loved to do together.  And for one evening, on a pier in North Carolina, I had him back. 
                                    I caught over 30 fish that week.

May your hot flashes be mild and your wrinkles even milder!
Kim York