Friday, August 21, 2009

The Passing of the Torch

I'm sure that every culture has a something that celebrates the moment when a father sees his son for the first time as something other than a child. Sometimes, it's cloaked in ceremony; sometimes its a silent recognition of something done right. For me, I got to have that experience this week.

Kyle and I went out on a 3.5 day tuna trip into Mexico. I told him the normal rules didn't have to apply (as in 'what happens in international waters stays in international waters....'), but that he still had to be respectful of others on the boat.

At then end of the first day, I had landed a couple of 15-20 pound yellowfin tuna, but Kyle had not even seen a single bite. As the sun was setting, I heard the cry of "FRESH ONE!", meaning someone was hooked up. I looked down the boat to see Kyle fighting to hold onto his rod, which was darn near bent in half.

To my fear and dismay, he was using a freshwater quality reel on a light weight rod bass rod that did not have the backbone to stand up to a tuna. I knew what the end result would be and prepared myself for consoling Kyle with the 'that's why they call it fishing, not catching' speech.

The fish walked him 4 times around a 95 foot boat. That poor rod looked like a pretzel. And Kyle? He was shaking from the strain, trying to grab his back, which was seizing up. He was seriously hurting. He could hardly manage to get the rod tip up just to crank in some line.

The deckhands were surrounding him giving him advice; I'm right behind him yelling encouragement and doing everything in my power NOT to reach in and help him raise that rod. It's his moment, and even if it means losing the fish, he'll do it on his own. After 45 minutes, we could see the fish under the surface. It was a monster. As soon as it saw the boat, it peeled off line heading for the deep. But Kyle kept fighting.

Then I heard the deckhand yell "Just a couple of more cranks..." Up and down the boat, 24 other fisherman on the trip were cheering him on. With a final lift, the fish was gaffed and in the boat. When it hit the deck, thunderous cheers broke out and men swarmed Kyle to congratulate him as one of our own. They saw what I did; a kid taking on the big fish and not quitting til the hard work was done.

And me? We'll, you know the buttons were busting off my shirt! And not just because of what he'd done. It was the comments through out the trip of what a fine, polite young man Kyle was and how they'd "share a rail, anytime" with Kyle; the highest praise in the world of off-shore angling. And they are right. I look forward to sharing a rail with him for many years to come.