Why I Fish
- by Rebecca Orfila, photos by Ellis Anderson
This past weekend, my husband and I were out fishing the railroad trestle at the mouth of Bay St. Louis. Saturday was a beautiful day . . . clear, blue skies, a pleasant breeze, and high hopes.
Fishing was one of the big guy’s hopes for retirement. He goes out just about each morning, from early May until mid-October, and fishes. We have a freezer full of trout and redfish. I can make fish a few dozen ways. Let me know if you need a recipe.
I will go fishing and feel great at the conclusion of the day. I may not have caught a single delicious speck or meaty red, but it is the complete experience — wade or boat fishing — that will make it a good day. Though the 5 a.m. get-up is not fun, I find that a two-hour nap after we get home plus eating anything that cannot outrun me will erase the tiredness.
We began our most recent adventure at 6 a.m. on Saturday by launching the boat and heading for the Walmart reef in Pass Christian. My job at the launch is to hold the boat rope and keep our boat from crashing into the boat in the next launch lane. Launching a boat is tricky when you are a tad clumsy and more than a tad heavy, like me. Southern gentlemen at the harbor have offered to help me, and a courageous few have voiced their concerns that I would topple headfirst into the water.
The first time I “helped” launch the boat, my middle finger on my left hand managed to get between the dock and the boat. I carried on for a day of fishing at Cat Island. Sure, I screamed bloody murder when it happened, but I plastered a happy smile on my face and caught several lovely specks for a reward.
Back to Saturday’s fishing. After a period of short strikes to the lures but no bites, we started to move west, testing the reefs until we finally turned north at Henderson Point to the mouth of Bay St. Louis. Still no bites, which remains the mystery of fishing. The fishing forecasts on the Internet need to have their programming checked. I think I’ve lost 75 hours of sleep this year due to those forecasts.
My catches this year have been legal specks (keepers), juvenile specks (toss back), and monster reds. I can hook these great grey beasts with the single spot on each side of their tails, but I leave it to my taller and more-experienced husband to land the critter. Let’s face it: there is a better chance of my losing the prize. Would you take a chance on possibly landing a big fish or be certain that courtbouillion was on the menu that night? Hand off that pole to the wrangler.
The husband tells me that I have my reel on the wrong side of the rod. Trust me; if it were on the left, I would spend most of the day reeling in my first cast. I am a dyed-in-the-wool righty, and my left hand serves little purpose other than to display jewels and type the keys on the left side.
So, what is the best thing about going fishing? It is listening to my best buddy relate special fishing stories from his youth. The best one from 1974 is the one when he and his older sister were out fishing under the train trestle. Imagine two teenagers, listening to WRNO music radio, and just enjoying the day. The trestle rumbled, announcing the approach of the regularly scheduled train. The kids waved up to the train and its familiar engineer. A surprise that warm day, the engineer tossed something down to their Boston Whaler. The goods missed the boat, so my future husband jumped in the water and retrieved two Baby Ruth candy bars. I suppose that these days he keeps looking for more prizes to capture out of the water. Who would trade a day on land for the chance to hear a story like that?