After nearly two decades and trying-and-failing to catch a fish across five states, it was off the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina that I once again proved I might survive three days in a post-apocalyptic world where you must kill your food in order to eat.

It only cost $250 for my boys and my share to charter a boat with my father-in-law and two other relatives, Dave and David.  Yeah, I know.  Confusing for me, as well.  A few months back I just casually mentioned that I'd like to go out on a charter fishing trip to catch some big fish.  I wanted to break my streak in style.

My wife jumped at the chance to plan a fishing trip for us.  She's a planner, especially when it comes to vacation planning.  She booked a trip on a boat that looked like it could get us out in some open water for some sport fishing.  Nope.  Captain Ron capsized his boat, leaving him with a friend's significantly smaller boat.  That didn't stop us.  I'm not sure why, but that didn't stop us.

Logan was all about catching the fish, but there was no way he was touching them with his hands. Photo by me.

My biggest fear didn't come from the size of the boat, nor did it come from the motion in that captain's ocean.  My fear was dropping either my phone or my breakfast in the water.  I didn't want to capsize because... well, who has time for a lost phone on vacation?  Also, dangerous for all onboard and stuff.  I was also quite worried about getting seasick with my notoriously weak stomach.

Before we even turn the boat on I almost fell overboard.  I didn't know there was a step.  There was definitely a step.  There was also a close call before we were even untied from the dock.  Nearly a swimming start to the day.  That would have also been the end of my day.  I would have sat in the car and waited for everyone to return.

Tyler with a real monster on the hook. Careful, Ty. Photo by me.

We began a very bumpy 15-20 minute ride to our first spot.  I know the time it took because I was counting every second of the ride, hoping it would soon stop, as pain shot through the pinched nerves in my neck and shoulder with every bump in the ride.  It didn't soon stop, and neither did the pain.  But this was about the fish, not my misery.

The true horror of the ride out wasn't the agonizing pain, it was hearing Gilligan recount the story of getting capsized by a "rogue" wave.  Hearing things like, "It was a day just like today, not much wind, when all of a sudden we got hit by back-to-back rogue waves that sent us over" didn't help my confidence in the man.  "Oh, don't worry, I was in a place I knew I shouldn't be, but we won't be there today" wasn't much in the way of comfort.

We arrived at the first spot, and I was fully anticipating a miserable failure.  Before I could even ask for a pole my younger son, Logan, had a fish in the boat.  It was a tiny fish, but for a tiny person it's was thrilling.  Over the next 15 minutes Logan pulled a dozen fish out of the water.  The skipper was helping get fish off Logan's hooks so often that it was 45 minutes before I even got a line in the water.

Once the hook was in the water it wasn't two minutes before I had a fish on the line.  Look, and bask in the glory of my first fish in over 20 years.

I was hoping it was a sea bass so I could use one of my favorite movie quotes.

 

We spent another 30 minutes at this particular location, and although it wasn't exactly like we were catching anything that might have Jonah inside (Bible reference - points for me) I could have stayed there for the entire four-hour tour.  Instead, after I had three tiny fish to my credit (Logan had, no lie, caught 20 by this point, sometimes two at a time) we pulled anchor and went out further through the Perfect Storm waves to another "secret spot" that didn't yield more than two or three more fish.

Logan at the helm. God help us all. Photo by me.

Our final stop was more about pulling in the lines so we could move back against the current near a bridge.  Why would I want to fish in the waters near a bridge when I could fish off the bridge itself for free?  As I expected, no more fish.  We did, however, get stopped by the Coast Guard to check out the life jacket situation.

It was at this point I began to suspect something was up.  When asked, he told the Coast Guard that we came out of a private dock when we had, in fact, come out of a very public dock.  Something told me that Captain Ron wasn't up-to-date on his guide license, but I said nothing.  Anybody rocking this boat might swim with the fishes.  The only good part about our last stop was watching the pelicans dive bomb the fish we weren't catching.  It's truly amazing to see up close.

So far on the trip, I hadn't fallen overboard and I hadn't gotten seasick.  I'd caught a handful of fish, and I was feeling alright by everything.  It was even a little overcast so the heat didn't make me want to jump in the water and never get out like it had been all week.  We started our drive back, nearly getting tipped by huge yachts without much thought to the dingy they were passing at top speed.

Somebody had a long day on the water. Sorry, Ty, I told you I was going to publish this picture. Photo by me.

It would have been a trip to remember.  We didn't need to run out of gas to continue the fun, however.  Yet that's precisely what happened.  An embarrassed Captain Ron then told us the fuel pump was going out.  BS.  He then said someone must have siphoned out the gas the night prior.  BS.  Luckily, there was a nearby boat that was able to tow us back to harbor.  By "nearby" I mean it only took 45 minutes to get to us and 30 more minutes towing us back to shore.

The last interaction with the lil Titanic was trying to pay the "cash discount" to this rear admiral, only to be talked to like I was soliciting illicit acts to be performed directly on the dock.  "Don't pay me out here in the open.  We need to go over under the bridge".  Really?  Are we paying for an illegal tour, or are we paying for a $20 bag of crack cocaine?

Still, through it all, I got my fish.  I conquered the ocean.  And I didn't barf the whole time... that came later with the tequila.