Summer Schooled

After months of agony dealing with algebra and chemistry equations, the time had finally come. It was the first day of summer vacation and my overwhelming feeling of joy couldn’t be contained any longer. The dog days of summer were here and although humid conditions make for uncomfortable fishing, the typically calm seas were ideal for heading offshore in my trusty 17-foot Whaler. I was hoping to fish every day and take full advantage of my newly acquired free time.


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Although Gettin’ Schooled wasn’t the most advanced platform, it served me well over the years. I was fortunate to have my own boat in high school, but it was only through a long list of chores and good grades that I was able to have my own vessel at such a young age. Even with the small platform, my friends and I had banner days with sailfish, tuna and dolphin on the edge, but this summer we wanted to go bigger. We were in search of the mighty broadbill, but had a few key hurdles to overcome before we could bask in sweet swordfish success. Perhaps the biggest challenge was getting offshore without tipping my dad off to our master plan.

“Hey Dad, Joey is spending the night and we’re going fishing tomorrow. You want to join us?” I asked, knowing he wouldn’t be able to come.

“I’d really like to, but I can’t get out of work. Good luck and you guys better not go more than a few miles offshore. If I find out you went any deeper I’ll take the boat keys away for the entire summer,” he firmly replied.

While his harsh warning would limit our ability to target swordfish, I shrugged it off and did my best to conceal the heavy tackle we would need to beat a trophy broadbill. Unfortunately, we weren’t as sneaky as we thought and my dad was doing his best to undermine our operation.
“What are you boys doing with that big deep drop outfit? You don’t need that heavy tackle on the edge?” He blurted out.

“It’s grouper season and there are some really big blacks around.” I replied.

That night I was watching Wicked Tuna and fell asleep dreaming of giant game fish. The morning came and we were up early and out the door before my dad even knew we were gone. As we shoved off the dock all I could remember was his threat, but I continued on and headed east after clearing the inlet.

After a long run we finally reached the sword grounds and sent a rigged squid to the depths. Not five minutes after hitting bottom the rod doubled over and the fight was on! It was awesome and everything we had hoped for. I couldn’t believe it was really happening and after an hour battle Joey sunk the gaff. After hauling the trophy fish into the boat I couldn’t stop thinking about how much trouble I was in, but at the same time I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. I was hoping my dad wouldn’t be too upset since I was bringing home fresh swordfish, but deep down inside I knew I had it coming.

Knowing it would be impossible to cover up our catch, I called my dad on the way in to let him know of our success. Not surprisingly, he freaked and was waiting on the dock with an open hand. What turned out to be the single greatest catch of my life was a tradeoff for losing my boat for the entire summer. Thinking back on the experience, it was totally worth it!