Fishing Lessons

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It’s always hard to admit that summer is coming to a close with the long Labor Day weekend behind us. But for us coastal dwellers, this is the best time of year: the tourists have gone home, kids are back in school, yet the weather is still balmy and bright and the beaches are relatively quiet.

Over the Labor Day weekend we headed to Catalina to do some fishing and enjoy the great weather. Just before we left on our trip, however, I walked in to the market to pick up some last-minute provisions and was accosted by an entire aisle packed side-to-side with Halloween candy, décor and costumes.

Sheesh, is it that time of the year already?

Undaunted and determined to enjoy the long weekend without the thought of fall on our heels, I gathered the last of 2012’s vacation hot dog buns, chips and dip, and with rods and reels and a bait tank full of nicely cured sardines and mini mackerels, off to our little slice of heaven we went.

We trolled across the channel, in no hurry, our morale boosted by the memory of our last trip over in which we’d caught a lovely and delicious Dorado. Small dolphins were everywhere, skipping and jumping out of the water, looking like pure joy.

I scanned the horizon looking for large kelp patties under which fish like to languish and a cool breeze kept the heat at bay. Other than the engines purring, all we could hear was the wind and water slapping gently against the hull.

Whenever we are on the water on a peaceful day like this one, it gives me pause to think about life in a whole new way, being away from the hustle and bustle of life back in Newport.

We didn’t catch anything that day, but I did get some quality time pondering some of the lessons I learned this summer during our fishing trips.

I suppose first and foremost, patience is a virtue when it comes to spending hours on the water, particularly when nothing is biting, even when you can see fish jumping all over the place. It’s an excellent exercise in which one just has to go with the flow, enjoy being in nature and not get frustrated. The experience is the chill pill I need back at home when I am sitting in rush-hour traffic or waiting in a long grocery line.

Another good lesson I’ve learned is to be prepared and expect the unexpected. Making sure all equipment and gauges are functioning properly, all lines stowed and decks clear, items below battened down properly, dinghy secured, safety equipment in reach and working, etc Getting in to the habit of re-checking things I assume are in order has helped me countless times.

I learned this lesson the hard way on one of this summer’s trips. As we dropped our mooring lines, the ocean was as calm as a lake. But as we headed out to our “secret” fishing spot, the Catalina Flyer zoomed by and its wake came behind and tossed the boat from side to side uncomfortably. Everything I hadn’t battened down was tossed haphazardly around the galley. Even a small wave can have a lot of power. More importantly, the weather out on the ocean can change on a dime. Now I never take it for granted.

And finally, I’ve learned to be a better wife. I could write a whole column about this aspect of fishing lessons, but I will leave off with this: when a fish is on the line and things get tense, it can sometimes take a lot of effort not to get snappy. But I find once the fish is on the grill, the meal is so much more enjoyable when the Captain and First Mate can toast over another delightful day on the water.

Indy columnist and amateur angler Lynn Selich resides in Newport Beach. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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