I was thinking about it this morning and then it came up today while fishing with Walter and Maria Tabaschek and their son Axel - what is "the angler's mark"? I've found it hard to explain in a brief definition, but to me it's definitely NOT all about catching fishing. To be sure, catching fish is part of it, but when I think about the sport of angling, there's more to it than just hauling in a fish. I think about picking out my favorite fishing clothes, setting my "lucky" hat by the door, and maybe bagging up a lunch the night before. Sometimes I'll "treat" myself to some snacks, like a bag of boiled
peanuts or maybe some Pecan Sandies! I'll have my tackle ready to go, my game plan for fishing in my mind: what's the weather forecast? what's the tide prediction? what type of bait or lure will I start off with? But I've gotten ahead of myself. If there is a book or magazine on fishing or a TV show I'll check it out. Finding an antique lure or piece of antique tackle at a flea market is exciting. I like to stop in small towns that have an old time bait and tackle shop and meander it through it in search of some neat or obscure lure that I've never seen. Art festivals that have outdoor artists whether they be paintings, wood carvings or sculptures will always have me stopping by to see the beauty. When driving, rarely do my wife and I pass a body of water that I don't speculate out loud, "I bet there's fish in that water!" The morning of a fishing trip should almost always have grits and eggs and bacon on the schedule. Meeting your fishing buddy early, before the hustle and bustle of folks going to work (aaarggh) and sitting down to some coffee, orange juice and a hearty breakfast is a great way to start off the day. The fishing trip begins with the sun coming up over the horizon with an anticipation of a great fish catching day. You'll never know what you'll see out on the water. Dolphin and shore birds for sure, but an occasional manatee, otter or salt marsh mink happen along from time to time. I've seen wild hogs and deer on our uninhabited islands and regularly see osprey (some with their catch clutched in their claws) and Roseate Spoonbills and Cranes and Herons. It's not unusual to have some huge marine "being" to surface like a Tarpon rolling on the surface or massive Ray come flying out of the water. Sea Turtles will swim by and Blue Crabs, too. Most days you catch fish, too, and you make take a few home to eat - I like a good fish fry (or blackening) as much as anyone, but even if you don't catch fish or don't keep any, the experience of getting out on the water with friends and family and enjoying your day of fishing can't be measured by how many fish you caught.
Today, we left out of Big Talbot Island Park, ran up the Amelia River, eased in to Jackstaff, and fished the bank with mud minnows under floats on the first of an outgoing tide. After just a few minutes of casting Walter's float went under and, FISH ON! He patiently played and landed a big 20" Speckled Seatrout! We continued to fish the bank, had a few bites, tangled with some Ladyfish, then ran around to fish Seymore's Pointe. Here, all three of us parried with some sneaky Snapper but I believe they've wised up to us anglers! We bounced around to fish another dock and here Axel got on the board when he landed a nice feisty Redfish. He put a Ladyfish in the boat and hauled up a rather large eel. Axel has been interested in fishing since he was very young and we all agreed that he surely has "the angler's mark"!