Back­cast Do It Once, Do It Right

IF HIS LUCK DOESN’T CHANGE, SHE MAY NEVER FISH AGAIN. It takes a whole vil­lage to raise a child, some­one once said, but one fish­er­man can feed an en­tire vil­lage.

Saltwater Sportsman - - Table Of Contents / Departments - DOUG PIKE

Missy Al­wais re­cently shared the story of her first — and only — fish­ing trip, which oc­curred off the coast of Belize about 15 years ago while on va­ca­tion with her boyfriend, Jeremy Robin­son.

Quick back­ground: Missy grew up a com­pet­i­tive swim­mer in San An­to­nio, the child of a New York dad and Arubaborn mother, nei­ther of whom were the least bit “out­doorsy” to her rec­ol­lec­tion. Jeremy was raised in sub­ur­ban Illi­nois; he wasn’t born into salt­wa­ter fish­ing but dis­cov­ered his pas­sion for it, in adult­hood, af­ter mov­ing to Hous­ton.

The two flew south that sum­mer to rest, re­lax and recharge along­side the clear Caribbean Sea. A mu­tual goal, but their def­i­ni­tions var­ied slightly. Jeremy wanted to be on the wa­ter. Missy wanted to be in the wa­ter.

So they agreed to split their day on a lo­cal char­ter boat; Missy (ladies first) would snorkel over a coral reef, and Jeremy, dur­ing the back half of the day, would fish.

Af­ter Missy got her fill of swap­ping stares with reef fish and tur­tles, Jeremy set­tled into the fight­ing chair as the boat trolled a snaking path down a sharp cur­rent change.

Late in the af­ter­noon, the skip­per headed to­ward port. Missy had me­mories. Jeremy had din­ner — a fat do­rado that eas­ily would feed the two of them.

Restau­rant staff en­cour­aged Jeremy to pass the prep and cook­ing time by fish­ing from a nearby pier, and even loaned him tackle and bait. Missy tagged along, be­cause they were (and still are) giddy in love.

Jeremy baited a rod and handed it to his sweet­heart in hopes she’d catch her first fish. And be­fore he could hang meat from that sec­ond hook, Missy an­nounced that she had a fish.

“I put the end of the pole in my belly but­ton to steady it,” she re­called. “It was re­ally fight­ing, but I wound it in.”

While Jeremy un­hooked that small snap­per, Missy held his freshly baited rod — and hooked a sec­ond fish. Jeremy hus­tled to re­bait the empty hook and make a cast, then helped his first-time-fish­ing girl­friend — who handed off her “pole” and grabbed the newly baited one. Her sec­ond fish was a grouper, not ex­cep­tional but large enough to catch the at­ten­tion of some women on shore.

The women walked out and asked to keep the grouper. Sure.

“I’ve never fished be­fore,” Missy of­fered with­out prompt­ing. “This is fun.”

In ex­change for the grouper and any other fish landed, the lo­cal women said they would hap­pily bait hooks — for Missy but not for Jeremy, since he al­ready knew how to fish.

Missy let an­other bait fall, and an­other nice grouper snapped it up. And then came a fish nei­ther she nor Jeremy could iden­tify but was dropped into the bas­ket with the rest by their new friends.

Jeremy made con­tri­bu­tions to the bas­ket as well, but Missy made more. She’d never fished a day in her life, the story went on … and on and on, in Jeremy’s head. She’d catch one, and he’d catch one. She’d get two, and he’d get … oops, that one got away. She’d catch a few more, and he’d catch one.

Since then, the suc­cess­ful cou­ple has re­vis­ited Caribbean re­sorts many times. They even own a coastal home in Galve­ston now and week­end there often. To this day, how­ever, Missy hasn’t fished again. I asked why. “I can’t yet,” she said with a smile. “It’s still Jeremy’s turn.”

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