My alarm rings at 3:30 on Sunday morning. Complete darkness surrounds me as I practically sling-shot myself out of bed. At this time I am more awake than I ever am. I’m quick because time is not on my side. I put on one long sleeve t-shirt and then a short sleeve t-shirt and repeat this process three times so that I am engulfed by six t-shirts followed by a rain jacket and rain pants. Its 3:32 AM now, and I have to be at the top of the driveway by 3:40. Careful not to wake the dog and the parents, I hop down the stairs three at a time and make my way into the barn to get organized. Soft plastic nine-inch slugs, check; plug box, check; pliers and head lamp, check; half ounce swim bait hooks, check. I stuff it all into my backpack, grab my nine-foot Lamiglass Surf King and head up to the top of the driveway.
Shortly after I’m there, a pair of LED Audi headlights light up the road and speed past me at least 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit of 35. Must be Chenzo I think to myself; this small Asian man never goes the speed limit, at least not at 3:39 in the morning. A minute goes by, and I see the dimmer yellow lights of Brian’s late 90s Toyota Camry slowly come to a stop right next to me. Brian gets out to open the trunk. “Hey Nick how are ya?” he asks.
“Very good an yourself?” I ask.
“Not too bad” he chuckles. “Should be a good morning,” he says, and I just nod, because if I said anything like “I hope so” or “I know so” I would jinx the morning completely.
The rest goes quickly; we have brief conversations with the few other guys down at the parking lot, we tie on our plugs, and Brian and I begin the three-mile walk down the beach. The conditions are perfect; full moon, a high-pressure system moving in, the water is glassy, and the tide has just turned and is now dropping. We walk past the other groups of guys to the last 4-500 yards of the beach that very few people go to. Brian calls this spot the grassy knoll, because we only know when were in the right spot when a small grassy knoll can be seen through the dunes. I lay my backpack down above the high tide mark, unhook my lure from the eyelet of my rod and wade slowly into the water, throwing the first cast only a couple steps in. I stand with my back to Brian because he reels righty and I reel lefty. Twitching my rod in uniform motion, I glide the lure right along the pristine water surface that 4:15 AM on a beautiful October morning is known for. I flip the bail again once more and cast my lure. It’s a good cast, flying straight, and landing just where I want it. I twitch the rod quickly and then stop it for a few seconds; this is my technique for the morning, perfect for the big keepers that move slowly in the chilly autumn water. I do not feel the water though, nor do I feel the frosty air. There is simply one thing I’m thinking about, and that is landing this fish on the end of my line. People ask me why I fish so much, and I tell them the same thing every time. It’s the guys I get to meet, some older some younger, all from different backgrounds. However, we all share that same passion for fishing. It’s also the places I get to see. But most of all, it’s the feeling of contentment and true joy that this sport brings to me.
Artwork by Anonymous Student.