It was May of 1968. My dad had taught me a little about fishing since before that. My brother and I used to go fishing with our friends at the local creek, where we enjoyed many a summer day catching sunnies, and catfish.
Well, this one particular day, my brother and I came home from school for lunch. While we sat at the kitchen table eating, my dad walked into the kitchen with a rod and reel combo, asked me what I thought of it. I replied,”it looks good”. He said “good because it’s yours”, and he began to tell me on Friday I would be staying home from school and we were going surf fishing.
We had to go buy my hip boots and some other things before heading to the shore, and we finally arrived in Seaside Park, New Jersey to stop for bait and then on to Island Beach State Park.
I seem to remember it being mid afternoon by the time we began to fish. My dad showed me how to tie an improved clinch knot to attach my snap swivel to my line, rigged me up with a hi-low rig and bloodworms and cast my line for me. After placing my rod into the sand spike, he showed me what a bite would look like when a fish was on.
I don’t remember how much time past, but I recall telling my dad I think I got a bite, so he said reel it in… it was on. As I fought the biggest fish I’d ever caught, I can still see my dad, and hear him asking me if I needed any help. Nah! I got, I quickly replied.
As my quarry due nearer, dad told me to let the waves push him up onto the beach, and there it was, my first ever striped bass.
Later on, my sinker had gotten buried in the sand and I couldn’t pull it out, dad gave it shot. After some pulling and tugging, my brand new surf rod, (that was a birthday present no less) snapped in two. Fortunately, he hard brought a 7 foot rod rigged with a striper-swiper in case a blitz came. He re-rigged it for me, cast it out, put it in the spike and no sooner I had another fish on.
As the sun went down that evening, we went just outside the park for dinner, and then called mom from a pay phone(remember using those?) to tell her about my fishing success. That night we fished the bay side. I mostly caught Z’s. I woke up at one point and dad had caught a blow fish. We made our way back to the car and slept a little and then out to the end of the road where we walked to the water. By this time I’m a seasoned pro and proceeded to catch two more fish
I still have that old reel. It’s a Shakespeare Sea Wonder Model FB and it still works, although I keep it for sentimental reasons