By Chuck Scales
Then the day came in the summer of 1960; my dad came home on a Friday from working at the refinery and that night at dinner he asked if I wanted to go offshore fishing with him the next day. “YES SIR!!” My reply was immediate. I couldn’t believe it, whit a grin from ear to ear, I was going to the Ocean, the Big Lake, GreenWater, The Gulf. As I glanced towards my mom, she must have seen the smile on my face and the desperate look of “please let me go” as she nodded her approval.
After dinner, dad and I started getting the boat ready for my first offshore trip, putting rods, reels and all the essential tackle on the boat and hooking it up to the truck. That night, the anticipation of how big a fish I was going to catch was like trying to sleep on the night before Christmas.
Before we got to the boat ramp we made a stop at the bait camp as you cross the bridge to Galveston Island. I still remember the stench of dead fish that hung in the air as I walked in wiping the sleep from my eyes. As dad was going to pick out some lures and ribbon fish, he asked me to grab something to eat. I didn’t realize how well you eat when you go offshore. I walked up to the counter with a couple of sandwiches and chips; dad began to chuckle and asked “What are you going to eat son?” Apparently, I did not quite understand what all day fishing offshore meant. “Follow me” he said, and with my arms cradled he started filling them up with vinnie winnies, sardines, crackers, and cookies until I couldn’t carry anymore.
I had my Moby Dick on the end of my rod and it was him or me. The instructions from dad were to not reel until he stops running. Dad stood behind me to hold me in the boat, I think we were both a little afraid the fish was going to pull me overboard. As the fish started to slow down I started to reel in line as my dad had taught me the night before by pumping the rod back and reeling as I came down with the rod. Five minutes, ten minutes, my arms quivered live Jell-O. Fifteen minutes later (it felt like hours) my dad was grabbing the gaff in one hand, the leader with the other in one stroke he gaffed and lifted Moby Dick (aka king fish) into the boat. Just when I though my eyes could not get any bigger, they did. My first king fish was big as me, my little arms ached, my heart raced and I could not have been prouder.
Arriving back at the boat ramp I held the boat while dad backed the trailer down the ramp to load the boat. I reflected back on the fish we had caught that day, and as we started home I was already thinking about the next rip offshore, and my new found admiration and love for my dad. After falling asleep in the front seat of the truck, the next thing I remember is dad waking me as we pulled in to the driveway. “Would you like to go again next Saturday?” dad asked. I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth fast enough “YES SIR!”