I have long since figured out that best gift I’ve ever received wa my introduction me to fishing.
My first mentor was a tiny Japanese lady by the name of Jeannie. Being a Navy brat, I grew up on military bases. Jeannie had married a sailor who was my dad’s best friend. I think I was around seven when she put me to the task of gathering a sack full of hermit crabs. We were stationed in Puerto Rico and hermits were as plentiful as fiddlers are here in the Lowcountry.
She took me by the hand to the Navy pier, where she pulled out her hammer. She cracked the shells, exposing the crab’s tail that it uses to anchor itself into the shell. Turns out, the crab tail is caviar to fish. Therefore, we started cranking them in left and right. I remember very little of my childhood, but that memory has always remained clear.
Fast forward six years and another gentleman entered my life.
He embraced the role of my dad, as if I were his own blood. He had me on the banks of the Columbia River fishing and catching steelhead and trout. The whole ritual of gathering the rods and tackle boxes coupled with the anticipation of a foray into the wild was euphoric.
Being blessed now with a son and a daughter, I have tried to pass this on to my kids. My 13-year-old son Caleb has finally come full stride in his passion. This past summer he was up at 5:30 every morning, assuming the role of first mate. He did not miss one trip. The spark is definitely glowing in his eyes and his latest aspiration has changed to marine biology. My little Sarah, who is seven, has many trips under her belt. She can tell you every fish she has ever caught, albeit not a long list.
Some of my favorite charter trips involve youngsters who have never fished.
I get a lot of gratification watching the fire light up when they catch their first fish. In these days of technology where young ones’ attention seems to be dominated with cell phones or video games, getting them in touch with nature and a bent rod, I think, is fantastic.
Caleb wants to go to Florida this Christmas and catch his first sailfish. He has many fish over 40 pounds – redfish, cobia and mani – and wants to add billfish to the list. While we have them here, they are some 60 miles offshore, making it a long and costly journey locally. When the cold fronts of December roll through southern Florida they congregate within a mile of shore there.
I can’t think of a better gift. Merry Christmas and God bless!
Written by Captain Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters, who has more than 42 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new “Finatic” boat, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers and features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at 843-290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.