A First Time for Everything
KMT Tournament Journals
A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Can you remember the attendant pulling the crossbar over your head as you sat down for your first roller coaster ride? How did it feel when you first crested the apex of a Farris wheel? What was it like when you met your first date's parents? These exhilarating, tense, and unbelievably apprehensive moments in our lives tend to etch themselves in our long-term memory bank.
One of these "first" moments for my Liquid Fire Fishing team is seared in the annals of my consciousness similar to, but certainly not as heart-warming or as significant as, the moment that I laid eyes on my first-born's face 19 years ago. Similar to Rachel's birth, I didn't know what to expect when I saw our first "money" fish lying on the deck of my Contender. Our emotions were nearly uncontrollable.
Remembering - the morning of September 10, 2005 began with a brisk run in the Intracoastal Waterway from Swansboro, NC to the check-out location in Beaufort Inlet. As we plowed through the washing machine-like inlet, the 35-knot, northeast wind howled across Shackleford Banks and battered the Cape Lookout bight. It was going to be a challenging day of fishing, to say the least. The water was muddy and far from the infamous "king green" that tournament teams long for.
Struggling to keep our lines with the slow-trolled pogies from becoming intertwined, we were lifted from the crest of one eight footer to the other. However, with the weather conditions, it was our best chance, and we knew there were some fish in the area. We watched longingly as two of our buddy teams on the Right One Baby… and High Speed Wobble grapple with, and ice down a couple of nice kings in their Contenders.
As the hazy mist crept in from around the lighthouse, my father, Charles, took the helm as I wrestled with the tedious and irritating task of untangling a couple of lines, which we were unable to keep from dating at the front of my Contender. As I grumbled to myself, I remember hearing my father bellow in his Durham County dialect, "ya'll get ready." My mind immediately went back to battling my inherited mass of frustration.
The next thing I remember hearing is the scorching clicker of one of my TICA Sea Wave reels on the starboard flat-line. My son, Joshua, snatched the TICA Bela rod from the gunwale and followed "Big Mama" from the starboard stern to the port bow as his brother, Crockett, cleared lines. "I saw him… I saw him!" my brother-in-law, Chris, shouted. The fish had "skied" on a menhaden that I had just deployed before becoming a prisoner in my mangled mess.
I finally freed myself from the grasp of the uncontrollable weave of the 20-pound mono to help Crockett get in the remaining lines. Chris took the helm to follow the money – I mean fish; the seas and haze had worsened. As Joshua made his way to the bow, he could only watch as the fish stripped yard after yard from the reel.
All of a sudden, we notice Joshua lying on his back in a bean bag chair with both hands still firmly on the rod. The seas had not only worsened, they had become dangerous. He scrambled to his feet and patiently regained all of the line. After a 15-minute fight, the 33.65-pound check – there I go again – I mean king, slid close enough for me to sink the gaff in her back.
As we looked in amazement at our first tournament placing king, we finally realized that the ice had been broken. An unintoxicated roar of enthusiasm was released by everyone on deck. After two years, my vocal cords have finally recovered, and I just finished paying for the surgery to repair my father's ear drum – he helped me pull the fish over, so he was standing close by when my vocal exuberance began its ascension. I'm just kidding about the surgery, but I was hoarse after I covered the big girl with ice.
Inexperienced and in total la-la land, we set our spread again trying to coerce Big Mama Two. I'm pretty sure we put bait on the Terminator Titanium leaders with Gamakatsu treble hooks, but I wouldn't swear to it. After getting the lines back in the turbulent waters, we began making the necessary phone calls to the other part of our team who had been up most of the night washing our clothes and preparing snacks. As Chris broke the news to the only person I know of whose falsetto is as high as mine, my sister Misty, I saw him grimace in pain as he quickly removed the phone from his right ear. (Maybe it was Chris's surgery I had to pay for.)
As I made the VHF contact to the crew of the 1992 SKA National Champions, The Right One Baby…, I told team captain Todd Matthews that we had just put a 51-inch fish on chill. SKA Hall of Fame nominee, Jim Davis, immediately grabbed the mike and encouraged me in his calm, southern drawl to get my fanny to the dock (come to think of it, I'm not sure he said "fanny").
By no means is a 33.65-pound king mackerel the beast that many teams are accustomed to landing, but she was big enough that Saturday morning to be the big fish of the day, take fourth place overall prize, and first place Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) finisher. It certainly was more exhilarating than meeting my first date's parents, but it still doesn't compare to the first time I laid eyes on Rachel's face!BACK TO KMT JOURNALS
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