HOOKED

Yachting - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

sim­ple tug on the end of a fish­ing line about 40 years ago changed my life for­ever. My fam­ily was out on our 31-foot, wooden Downeaster, drift­ing in the ocean off Jones Beach, New York. Our round-bot­tom boat bobbed like a cork. It was early sum­mer and prime time to catch our go-to ground­fish: the fluke. Also known as sum­mer floun­der, these ag­gres­sive and tasty crit­ters sit stealth­ily in the sandy bot­tom, wait­ing to strike un­sus­pect­ing prey with ex­treme prej­u­dice. Their ag­gres­sive bite is what makes them so much fun to catch. Add some bread crumbs and a lit­tle lemon, and they fill out a din­ner plate nicely.

On this day, the fish­ing was slow. Even slower than our slack-tide drift. I was a ram­bunc­tious kid, but when it came to fish­ing, I al­ways tried to keep my head in the game and stay on point. I’d stare with laser fo­cus at the rod tip un­til my eyes crossed, wait­ing for a nib­ble. I wouldn’t even speak, likely a wel­come re­lief for my fam­ily. Bring­ing the fish to the net was great, but that bite. That’s a real rush for an­gling afi­ciona­dos. And it’s al­ways worth the wait.

ATHE STRIK E WA S V ICIOUS. I DROPPED THE ROD TIP AND RIPPED IT BACK TOWA RD ME. THE HOOK H A D FOUND ITS MARK.

Just when our day on the salt had reached the moun­tain­top of mun­dane, it hap­pened. The bite. The strike was vi­cious. I dropped the rod tip and ripped it back to­ward me. The hook had found its mark. A tug of war en­sued. I leaned into the fight with all 50 pounds of me com­mit­ted to vic­tory and pis­ca­to­rial great­ness. For sev­eral min­utes, it was a see­saw bat­tle, my dad hur­ry­ing down from the fly­bridge to en­sure I stayed in the boat. Soon, the for­mi­da­ble flat­fish rose to the sur­face.

Re­al­iz­ing this was the biggest fluke of my short an­gling ca­reer, my dad quickly net­ted the brown beast. The fish weighed in at just un­der 6 pounds, the largest fluke I’d seen in my six years of life. Not quite a leviathan, but very re­spectable by fluke stan­dards. My dad still has the pic­ture of me and my brother, Chip, who also caught a siz­able fish that day. Dad took the photo in our back­yard. Chip and I have Cheshire cat grins, hold­ing up our prizes be­fore sac­ri­fic­ing them to the fry­ing pan.

On that sum­mer day, I be­came a life­time an­gler. I may have set the hook into that fluke, but as it turns out, the hook sets two ways.

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