Fishing Takes You Places

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You keep a blog a while and you start hearing negative stuff about “bloggers” in general and you start slacking (guilty). My drafts are many in queue.   This  has always been a place to kinda say out loud what I hold in my heart. That part of fishing you hold close. If you’re blessed enough you meet some others who can connect on what it does to your soul and how it sustains you.  It is an endless passion. Thank you for letting me share this with you through the written word. I am truly grateful for the experience as humble as it was.

It was a plan in the making to travel back to a place that set dreams on fire and gave me many sleepless nights throughout my life.  Back when life was an adventure through the heart and mind of a young girl just old enough to go jump waves on her own.  Adventures it seems as I look back now full of many good memories of life outdoors.

A gazebo by an Inlet held some of the most significant memories for me. To witness Fishing Boats pass through, loaded down with people and gear.  Out they went, people standing on decks smiling and waving.  Their hopes upon the bounty they would bring home for their families. My hopes were set in motion witnessing  that kinda happiness and it filled my thoughts with wonder.  What would they see and catch out there, what happens, how deep is the ocean, what if the fish is bigger than the boat. As a child I was sure each trip was full of white marlin grey hounding and mako’s throttling themselves out of the water for the delights of  fishermen.  In reality it was most likely a trip to find summer fluke for a quiet sunday dinner. But my imagination was active and running whenever I witnessed such a big boat.

The beach was fun I loved being in the ocean. But it was that spot along the rocks I remember with most clarity. Buckets of blue crabs live lined up those rock next to that spot. Tipping over of same said buckets in the car on the way back on the parkway.  A day at the beach was simple,  happy, filled with laughter, shell collecting, eating a packed lunch on the sand, an occasional trip to the boardwalk before heading home, and not wanting for anything more than to be on one of those boats.   With those thoughts deep seeded plans of fishing were created left dormant for a very long time to experience. My life now, I pick those dreams off when possible, keeping them as simple as when I was a kid. As many  boats I have been on, as many fish I have found from sand and deck. I wanted to have that feeling of being that boat passing the spot. To see the faces, experience the perspective of a memory from long ago.

It was the first time since my childhood I went back to that area. A flood of good thoughts entered my mind.  Prior I was nervous I was not  prepared. My gear, my expectations, my knots, metal, clothing – was it right? Could I come to this place held inside for so long and feel satisfied by anything I was about to do. I held it close to heart and just hoped.

By chance I took my place in the spot I would have the best view of that gazebo and it ignited  hopes it was still there.  And it was. The sun was not up yet but there it was like a beacon of light from my childhood held onto for so long. This time I was on the other side and it was right then I saw myself as a child in my own mind I welled up and smiled.

Dreams do come true.

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If I just was able to do just that it was satisfying enough. But I got to do more. We had  mackerel and albies around. We pot hopped. There were tangled lines and sea robins and skates. My knots were good and my gear choice correct.  My love of bucktails runs deep and  threw in lots of  shiny things like AOK Tackle T-hex’s (one of my very favorites all year round) , Kastmaster, S & S Bucktail product’s and a few others.  Within me a lil smile – because I am figuring this all out.  Not just fishing different applications, but myself.  On the way back in for a minute I forgot for a moment and then there they were, people. Standing, watching the fleet return. Which made me feel like I had accomplished something very personal quietly.

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This one was special and experiencing it made me realize how much happens in life, how quickly it goes, how important it is to hold onto dreams. Most of all your life is your story. There are many versions of it. But yours is the unfiltered autobiography of truth.  Holding onto who you are at heart without letting people, life, situations, tragedies take that away can be difficult. Keeping that light lit inside you – is up to you. Fight hard for it on the darkest days. Go grab your life and live it and cheer on the people you love and hold close to do the same.

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Invictus

By  William Henly

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

 

 

 

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UNREAL….. Get up at 6am… check radar..

thought i could do it… GOD SENT me a message….one hour later… it is summer again… all I can say is it was ELECTRIC !!!! – Tony Stetzko

It’s funny how connected things are. There are forces we cannot even understand going on at any given moment pushing you along a path that did not make much sense at first. One day it all does and you welcome the arrival of such knowledge.

Life and the journey.

I did not pick surf fishing, it picked me. I was getting pretty good fly-fishing sweet water and thought I could transition that to salt. But no. And it was not for lack of wanting to try. So I’ll take you back to why.   I was late to FB .. reluctantly I joined. Lucky for me I happen to know a couple of people who sent a friend request and I welcomed them from a past fishing message board. And  (Keith and Amy) being the wonderful people they are recommended a bunch of  their friends also. So there I was, new friends. All walks of life friends, and from all over. I did not know most of them. But it was important to me to make my experience on FB a good one so I kept the door to friendship open ever so slightly.

At first I did not talk much about fishing (shocking I know), had some real heavy stuff to get through. But I kept producing  art and taking pictures. On one occasion I posted up a sketch which would mark the beginning of one of the very best friendships with  man I would ever come to know. He commented on the sketch and we talked a lot about art – commercial art, photography, etc… and NJ

 

 

Fast forward and here I am sometime later working on this basic how to for beginners like myself in surf fishing. Reflecting on how I got here.  And it was his push… to get my hands on a surf rod.  Tony Stetzko – a man bigger than life itself. I was already going to the beach everyday exploring every inch of the ocean side, the back, and the bay.  I was taking it all in and slowly letting it heal me. So with his encouragement I gave it a try. With a heavy bait rod and reel in hand off I went. From the first cast I knew this was it.  One on one… I walked the sand and with each step and cast I accepted everything the universe gave me. I did it wrong. Wrong set-up. no belt, no surf bag, little gear, no idea. It rained, the wind was relentless, the sun sometimes painful, I tripped and fell on slipper rocks, walked through mud and sand fleas. Behind the sunglasses I shed a few tears, some-days a lot. But I let go and I forgave…. myself. I also learned to stop giving so much power to fear. The kind of fear that someone else hands you. I let go of so much at that water. And in turn started to believe in myself again,  it’s healed me… that and those striped bass and their journey.

And so my friend and I talked about everything. Sometimes everyday.  We talked about the good and bad,  but a lot about that good feeling…. of being on the beach alone and seeing the sun come up on the water, stars, sunsets, surf, swell, tides…. dolphins in the surf, horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, porgy, blue fish, striped bass. He said he caught a few. How humble right.. because he is a record holder.  He made written stories come alive, gave people enormous credit for just being kind to him, gave life to the crazy forces that align on the beach at night,  there was jaws always in the surf and seals received a whole new zip code.

Tony made people feel special – I am not in one bit unique, there are so many, many friends of his in this world who shared the same kind of friendship with him. And so the talks went on.. and it was never about fishing technique except “keep moving”. It was always conversations about life, families, friends and the way people treat each other.  A real honest to goodness friend who got this passion I have for seeing the good in everything and fishing. No judgement, just genuine and encouraging.

So I was right there in life accepting this friendship. One for years prior I would not have felt worthy to accept from anyone.

When Tony fell sick in November in my heart and I think everyone else too thought, he would get better.  The severity was never as real as in the last couple weeks of just how hard the battle he was still fighting was going on. In light of it he had the capacity within himself to want to let go on his terms. For that we can all be grateful. But the loss is a hard one among all of us he has touched because he sincerely is a good soul.  And what more really is there to life than to live in such light and love and share that with so many people.

What a beautiful legacy.

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(Photo credit – Tony Stetsko in a personal message 2013)

 

I am grateful to have known him.   I sincerely appreciate his good friend Danya’s offer taking the task of being my first call when I get lucky enough to get my first striper from the surf. Although I know Tony will be watching.

This past late spring start and summer went along. It was a slow start, lots of mistakes. But I started paying attention and asking questions. Little by little gaining some confidence to even ask. People like Allen W, John Beers, Keith,  Chris Gately, Nick Luna, Steve Adams, Fran all started saying try this and do that and I was starting to get it. Everyday I went, everyday I tried throwing everything. I started getting bluefish. Ummm that was enough to make me lose my mind knowing what was possibly under them. The miles I put on my feet the last year are immeasurable. But my realization of this community of surf fishermen – (fly people too) is overflowing with gratitude. I posted about writing this how to and I had so many great people respond on all different aspects. I am going to share all of them one by one.

As I put the finishing touches and pictures on the first chapter to the next post with the help of John Basile and Lou Caruso (Plugs and Rods – For Beginners) I stopped first to recognize this force that works without us knowing and the connections. Most of all I really just wanted to say thank you to all the people helping me.  You are all a testament of what good and kind people are. And each and every one of you have been wonderful mentors. And if your name is not on list it is coming… these were the people at the get go.. along the way so many more have offered their knowledge.

A great big Thank You to Tony for being my friend and whatever beautiful beach you are fishing right now I hope your soul is at peace. I am going to miss the talks and stories, the posts,  but most of all,  your enthusiasm for life. What a remarkable gift.

 I leave you with the most valuable lesson I have learned from this …. and this comes from inside of me to you : sometimes we hesitate to invite people into our life because we feel like our space isn’t good enough. Things are a little messy,  our place settings don’t match, or our situation isn’t quite what we want it to be. Don’t let that stop you. Invite people in any way and let the friendship take off like a 50lb pound bass hooked up in the suds during a nor’easter.