For most of my life, my dad has owned a boat. When I was younger, it was a 22-foot boat that seated 4-6 people comfortably, had a cabin and an on-board bathroom, and suffered from frequent electrical problems (it was a used boat, a bit run down, but solid enough in most ways). Fishing trips were a common feature of our summers back then, up until I moved away from home. My dad eventually had to sell the old boat because of the high costs of maintenance and gas (a day’s trip with the way gas prices are nowadays would run up to about $300 in gas).
Dad has wanted a new boat for awhile, and eventually settled on the Soak ‘N Fused, a 16-foot skiff:
Being quite a bit smaller than the old boat, there are a few issues with balance and size. If two people lean to the same side at the same time, it can tip that side enough that we start taking on water. This makes maneuvering a bit complicated, but it can be done (I only almost fell in once, and I managed to pull myself back in after only planting one cheek in the water).
We left early Saturday morning, around 6:00 am. I don’t normally get up that early, so I was on low sleep (I tried to go to sleep at around 9:30, then my Muse got me up at 11:30 and made me go back to my writing, and I only managed to get a little more sleep after that). I woke up pretty quickly, though, between the combination of a 5-Hour Energy drink and the smell of the air over the water. We ended up being on the water from 7:00 until around 4:00, and it was a great day.
Fishing involves a lot of long hours spent sitting around, followed by about two minutes of sheer adrenaline when you get a catch. Which is great when you want to relax and enjoy the sun and the sea. It was a perfect day, mid-70s, only a few clouds in the sky. Around mid-day there were some issues with gnats swarming around, but when we left the ocean and headed upriver for a bit, we managed to escape them.
I couldn’t tell you exactly where we were, since we wandered around a lot, exploring the bays and rivers. We had a nice view of Atlantic city during some parts of the trip, though when we went further upriver there was nothing to be seen for miles around except for stretches of marsh and grass around us.
We launched from Chestnut Neck Boat Yard, a small establishment operating out of a trailer these days since their main buildings are still suffering from damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. We did most of our fishing in the river a bit south of Chestnut Neck, and out in the Great Bay.
We caught a total of five fish. Four we had to throw back (regulations require a fish to be a certain length in order for you to keep it, so that young fish have time to grow to full size and reaching breeding age to keep the population up). First there was an 18-inch striped bass (which we thought was pretty big, but it turns out they need to be a whopping 28 inches to keep them.
We made a point to call my dad’s friend, Eric, and brag to him about the fish we’d caught (as men are prone to do). Then after being in the sun all day, just a little bit sunburned, we headed home. Though after we got home and hosed down the boat, my dad also had to clean and carve up George.
My step-mom is going to cook him.
All in all, it was a rather successful day. There will be plenty more like it over the summer, though hopefully next time we’ll catch more than one keeper. Still, a day out on the water is enjoyable even if you catch nothing all day. It was gorgeous out there. Early in the day, the sunlight reflects off the water in a sparkling mass of light like snowflakes dancing across the surface. And driving across the bay at full speed through the wind and the salty spray coming off the waves is exhilarating.
Plus we saw some girls in bikinis, so that’s always nice.