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Fishing for More Than Surf

Growing up, my brother, sister and I used to extract old fishing poles from my grandparents garage. Trying to untie any knots gathered in the lines, we would dig up worms from their garden.

Using my brother as a guide, we would attempt to fashion the worm onto a rusty old hook and cast the line into the lake behind our grandparents' house. Once, my brother even cast the line directly into the tree branch lying closely above our heads, and caught my sister’s hair (neither the intended target, or so he says).

I decided to carry this tradition to Jacksonville. The difference: a small lake behind a house changed into the Atlantic Ocean on the shores of 11th Ave.

I wanted to try surf fishing. I had only ever seen it done a few times by old men when my family vacationed off the shores of South Carolina. Most of the time, when inspecting their buckets of catch, I would find baby sharks and become horrified at the prospect of sharks actually swimming within range of me.

Publix has shrimp trays, ranging in small, medium and large sizes available to purchase and can be served immediately. I felt I should buy the small one to use for bait and a snack, if needed.

I decided to park at 11th Ave., mostly because it was the only place where I could find a parking spot. I carried my towel, chair, book, shrimp tray and rusty old fishing pole I had brought from home down to the shore. It was low tide so I set-up camp pretty far down on the shore.

After organizing my chair, towel and book, I tried to get a grip on the fishing portion of the afternoon. Realization number one sunk in, I did not have a fishing license. I reasoned with, if I was to get caught, I could pull the whole tourist-who-didn’t-know, right? So, after glancing up and down the beach for police, I went back to work.

Realizations number two-I did not have a bucket to put any of what I catch in. Well, the marlin, I was certain I was going to catch would not fit in a bucket anyway—wait; do they even have Marlin in Florida?

I grabbed my shrimp and used my keys to open the multiple layers of plastic between me and my shrimp. I popped one in my mouth before grabbing the hook and pinching a shrimp onto it. Such a loss of a good shrimp was all I could think of.

I cast my line out into the sea and stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Another difference between surf fishing and lake fishing? I couldn’t tell if I was catching anything, or if the waves were knocking my line around. I am not really sure how far out my I had cast my line, either.

I pulled my line in and noticed the shrimp was gone, but no fish was on the hook. I once again hooked the shrimp and cast out my line. Tired of standing, I decided to read my book. But then there was the problem of what to do with my fishing pole.

I tried digging a hole in the sand, but it sadly kept falling. Finally, after much maneuvering, I placed the fishing pole between my chair and body, hoping it would not fall.

Maybe I had gotten too enthralled with my book or maybe my lack of skill when it came to surf fishing. But almost thirty minutes later, I looked up and remembered about my fishing pole. I reeled it in, only to find no shrimp again on my line. And no fish.

Annoyed and out of shrimp (as the rest I had used to feed myself), I packed up to go home. Next time, I would utilize lessons from a professional, or at least someone who knew the correct terminology for the fishing pole.

As I left, I turned to give the ocean one last view and could have sworn I saw a few fish jump in the ocean, as if taunting me, saying “Ha! You can’t catch me! You’ll never catch me!”

I hope to try again soon, maybe next time on the pier, with a license and better bait.

1 Responses »

  1. i'll teach you to fish Mary E!