Unlike any other blood drawing event in which my instincts would tell me to stay away from these creatures, the dopamine running through my impressionable mind had me toss all logical reasoning aside, as I desperately tried to ensnare another one. Yet it was that tug of a bamboo pole that truly excited me. This combined with the violent submerging of the bright plastic bobber could only have meant that I had skillfully hidden the small hook under the mushy spearing signaled my prey had impaled itself.
My graduation to big game came one memorable morning after being awakened early to go fishing. I was sent scampering to the bathroom to rinse the crust from my eyes. After dressing, I was given my first grown up folk’s breakfast of a buttered roll to be dunked into a cardboard cup of hot chocolate. Along with the early hour, this particular morning was different than any other. An almost frightening mist hung lifeless across the water. The blanket of moist air made it difficult to see far, and the only sounds I could hear were an occasional gull and “jumping bunker.” These errant splashes from nowhere truly added to the mystique of it all.
The whole scene kind of reminded me of something from a late night horror movie. Back then, there was a particular series which began with a creepy animated hand that came up out of the mud while opening and closing. Then without fail, each episode included a creeping mist which always came complete with some sort of monster. I can’t explain why I would remember that the animated hand had six fingers. Nor do I know why I can still recall the soupy morning, as for the life of me, I cannot recall the day of the week, month, or even the year. Yet, imprinted in my mind forever with the mist and accompanying sounds, was that scent of low tide.
There was just something about it that made my nostrils flair in an attempt to grasp every bit of it. It was as though my nose was greedily trying to suck up as much as my young lungs could hold. I have often wondered how this over-looked sense knew decades later I would desperately yearn to once again have this scent flow through my nostrils, knowing all too well I probably never would. However, at that time, the aroma of wet seaweed mixed with a cornucopia of sea life didn’t signal low tide. It didn’t spark any fond distant memories because I was still unknowingly creating them. It didn’t yet remind me of when I was free, as I still would be for several more decades. It only meant I was that much closer to having that orange bobber floating with a spearing beneath it.
Like refugees of the mist, ourselves and the others before us, we made our way down the short pier and boarded a large party boat. After a short wait and a dual blast from the ship’s air horns, the captain effortlessly piloted us through the channel. Along with the previous smells, sounds, and small talk, sea spray was added to the mix. As we traveled to the fishing grounds, the men around me readied gear that I had never seen before. There were metal leaders attached to large hooks, and most of the baits were bigger than the majority of my quarry. There were no orange bobbers attached to any of the lines, instead dangling in the wind along with half cut bunker were shiny silver bars with colored tubing on their ends.