“As we awkwardly walked out onto the sand, all that could be heard was the ‘clunk-swish-clunk’ of twenty or so pairs of waders briskly shuffling through the sand. After I introduced how to cast, how to hold a reel, and how to fish, the students paired and slumped their way to waterfront real estate. As fishing is my life, the time flew by for myself and before I knew it we were calling for five minutes remaining. During the entire lesson, we had hooked a grand total of zero fish…
But, just as we pronounced the end of class, something caught my attention from the corner of my eye. One splash, a few splashes, and then the crash of a cormorant smacking the surface of the water. ‘Blitz!!!’ I screamed. My own rod and reel was whipped as hard as I could muster and almost before the lure hit the water I was hooked up on a sizable bluefish. Immediately I looked at the student next to me and exclaimed ‘Hot potato!’ and handed my reel to her. Her eyes lit up and quickly she started to reel in the fish. I jumped at the chance to coach her: ‘Lift up, reel down!’ I exclaimed. After a few hard-fought moments, we saw the color of the fish and she jumped with anticipation.
She proceeded to walk backwards, as customary for landing fish on beaches, but as she grabbed the line the fish gave one bounce too many and soon the hook was free. Grabbing any water that it could, the savvy bluefish proceeded to bust through the waves to freedom. Knowing there would be disappointment, I assured her that because she grabbed the lead bluefish that it was considered caught in the eyes of most fishermen.
Before I even finished the statement, the student was leaping with excitement: ‘THAT. WAS. AWESOMEEEEE,’ she screamed. As she soon reverted to her more typical quiet nature, I gave her a high five and assured her that, yes, it was awesome. The smile never left her face for the rest of the day. Even when I saw her in the halls back at school a few days later, every time she smiled we both knew, she was thinking about her first fish.”
-James Harrington, NESS SEA AmeriCorps Member