“JUST ONE MORE TRIP…”
Originally Published In Western Outdoor News the Week of Feb. 8, 2012
To any of us who work in the sportfishing industry where our livelihood is dependent on the seasonal whims of nature, there are often some pretty rough times. Especially these days when things are complicated even moreso by economics, politics, plus changing social and ecological interests, there’s many a night when folks in our industry bang ourselves on the head. Why do we do it? There’s gotta be an easier way to make a living.
Well, a few months ago, I got a thought-provoking e-mail from Peter, a long-time WON reader. Here’s what he wrote:
“I’m 75 years old now. I started fishing when I was 11 years old. Fishing with a drop line from the old Santa Monica Pier. Fishing for perch, smelt and mackerel with the old drop line was the beginning. For my 12th birthday I got a 7’ rod and a Penn reel.”
“I lived about 12 miles from the ocean and soon found me and my 7- foot rod were not welcome on the street car that ran along Venice Blvd to Santa Monica. So I made the trip on my bicycle riding 12 miles each way with my 7-foot rod etc. I soon graduated from the pier to fishing from a Fishing Barge in the bay and then to 1/2 day boats fishing for Halibut, Bass and Barracuda.”
“I dreamed of the day when I would be 16-years-old and able to drive south to San Diego and get on the San Diego Boats to fish for Tuna and Yellowtail. “
“In the late 70’s, I started fishing on the Long Range Boats. My first trip was a 4- day on the Royal Polaris. I was hooked on long range. Over the next 25 years I fished most of the long range boats from San Diego.”
“Things were different for me then. I was working and earning a decent wage. Fuel and boat fares were much cheaper. I could afford to take 2, 3 or 4 trips a year.”
“ Now, I am 75-years-old, living on my modest social security income. Fuel and boat fares are pretty much beyond my means. My last long range trip was 5 years ago. My tackle is, by today’s standards, pretty much obsolete. I still read the fishing reports in WON and on the internet and dream of going out for the tuna and yellowtail again. “
Maybe sometime… One more trip… The others will look at the old guy with the old gear and chuckle…. But I don’t think the fish will know the difference… anyway, I hope not.”
“Oh yes… I have also fished the East Cape and La Paz (long before Tailhunter was there) All great memories.. and lots of fish stories..
“One more trip…”
There’s a most intriguing statute out on the waterfront of La Paz in front of the now-closed Hotel Los Arcos.
It’s weathered and the copper patina is showing through after many years of sun, salt and sand. It’s on a pedestal on the busy malecon thoroughfare. It’s a bit larger than life-size depicting a curious old man staring out to sea.
He’s in shorts. Like little school-boy shorts. But around his waist is a giant paperboat…the kind you made as a kid. Perched on his head is a duplicate paper hat. Even in the worn statuary, there appears a glimmer in his eye and a clear grin on his weathered face. With one hand, he is shading his eyes against the sun.
What’s he looking for? What’s he waiting for?
I’ve never been good at interpreting art. I either get it or I don’t. Just me. I never got this statue either.
But, then I got Peter’s e-mail.
As someone who’s been fishing a long long time, I’ve been blessed with more time on the water than I could have ever hoped for. But, as with all anglers, I think I might be at the point where I have more fishing behind me than ahead of me. It’s life. It’s just the way it is. A time is coming when I won’t be able to go out anymore.
But what memories! Like what Peter wrote. There were so many good days that you remember with a smile. And, despite the advance in years on our bodies, spirits and souls, who of us wouldn’t like to have back some of those carefree days of paper boats and school-boy shorts?
At least for me, when I get some of those insane days when things are crazy and we wonder why we do what we do, I’m gonna pull out Peter’s e-mail and remind myself.
What we do, if we work in this industry, is create smiles and memories. One of our “just-another-day-on-the-job” is someone else’s lifetime memory. Like Peter and his 7-foot rod taking the streetcar to fish. . .His first long range trip of foray into Mexico. We are very privileged.
I understand the old man statue now.
As Peter wrote, “I dream of going out for tuna and yellowtail again. . .Maybe sometime… One more trip… The others will look at the old guy with the old gear and chuckle…. But I don’t think the fish will know the difference… anyway, I hope not.”
Just one more trip.
Jonathan Roldan has been writing the Baja Column in Western Outdoor News since 2004. Along with his wife, Jill, they own and run the Tailhunter International Fishing Fleet in La Paz, Baja, Mexico www.tailhunter-international.com. They also run their Tailhunter Restaurant Bar on the famous La Paz malecon waterfront. If you’d like to contact him directly, his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the restaurant to say hi!
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