Growing up and into my late 30’s we always took family vacations to the beach. When we did my dad, brothers and I would take a day trip with a Captained boat to go out and do some off shore fishing. My dad loved to fish and we often would catch the limit on about every fish we got into to. The last trip we took before my dad got where he could barely see and walk was on a boat called the Captain Stacy. We went out of Morehead City, NC into the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles off the coast of North Carolina.
My dad, two brothers and myself went on this trip. After about a three or four hour boat ride out into the Atlantic into 150-300 feet deep water we put our lines in and soon began to catch Dolphin (not flipper folks) but the actual fish called a Dolphin. We then got into some Amberjack which are big and strong and give one hell of a fight to get into the boat. We fished out the limit on both of those so we moved into some deeper water in search of some bigger game fish.
We put anchor down and suddenly things got hot again and we hit a school of Spanish and King Mackerel and hit the individual limit on both of them. I cannot remember I think it was like 5-7 per person and we had a good time tearing them up and getting them on board the boat. Mackerel is a bony fish that doesn’t eat that well so we gave them to the people who show up everyday at the local docks when the boats come in so they could eat them.
The day continued and we found ourselves surrounded by five or six other boats because we were hitting the fish hard and catching them like crazy on every cast. Other than a few that broke the line or fought off we tore them up that day. Late in the day before coming back in for the three hour return trip we hooked into a large shark. My dad fought it first and then one by one we took turns fighting that beast. It breached the water three times to let us get a hint of his size and power but we never could get it close to the boat.
The last time the shark jumped out of the water three hours later as it was still fighting the Captain got a good glimpse of it and determined based on his experience that we had hooked a 8-10 foot long Tiger Shark that likely weighed in the area of 400-600 pounds. He told us we would not get that thing on the boat and it was best to cut it loose and let it go. He also reminded us that it was getting late in the afternoon and we needed to head back before it got dark. The last thing he said was we really don’t want that full grown adult shark close to a 30 foot boat anyways.
It was big enough to pull the boat around and mean. One huge, lean, mean eating machine. So we cut the line and let it go. That shark won the battle that day as he proceeded to wear all of us out. One by one he kicked our butts and sent us packing and we are all healthy and strong men. My dad was older but was still a 6’4 340 pound mans man and the most experienced of us all and it wore him down also. Just as we were cutting the line my brother hooked a good size fish and as he was reeling it in and just as it was coming out of the water it got hit by another Tiger shark.
This one was not as big but was mean and about 6-7 feet long and he was a monster. He bit the 18 inch long fish in half and kicked his tail at us as to say better stay on that boat. As a kid I spent lots of time in the ocean playing, swimming and fishing for two weeks every summer. But that sunny day in July showed me a life lesson that we are humans and are meant to be on a boat and not in that water out there. We may be the ultimate predator on ground, but those big sharks are the rulers of the deep. They can have the deep water and I will stay my big butt right in the shallows where it belongs.
We lost dad in 2009 and man would I love to fight another big shark or just catch a few pond bass with him. One of these days we will fish again. Dad, thanks for the memories growing up at the beach. Thanks for teaching us how to fish, be men of faith and take care of our families like you did for so long. Happy fishing in Heaven dad!
Love, Hugs and Kisses in Heaven!