It’s Been a Few Decades Since Jamie Garrett Has Caught a Fish
From Oklahoma to Mississippi to Texas to Alaska and back to Texas again. In all those stops, now spanning nearly 20 years, I'd not caught a fish despite best efforts. To be fair, my best efforts in the fishing department aren't exactly what I'd consider "gung" nor "ho".
Even in my childhood days I wasn't Jimmy Houston. Mom & dad would ship us off to family in Oklahoma every summer regardless of where in the world the Air Force had sent us. We loved grabbing some nightcrawlers at the corner gas station before heading to Tenkiller Lake for some Mountain Dew and fishing.
Granddad was always talking about that next cold front that would send the fish our way as my cousins and I sat on the shore with nary a nibble. We'd occasionally catch a bass, but it was mainly bluegills (perch to most) that weren't much bigger than the hook. Despite the meager size, each fish felt like Moby Dick on the end of the line. Seeing that bobber submerge was as exciting a sight a kid could see.
Even when we weren't catching fish (most of the time) granddad would tell us stories about taking his kids (our dads) fishing and how my dad, in particular, would throw rocks in the water when he got hungry and bored so granddad would have to call it a day. Garretts love to eat. It's our strongest family trait. You wanna fight about it?
Growing up and no longer having the summers to spend in Park Hill, Oklahoma (damn you, full-time work) meant no more fishing trips with granddad. I went from 1994-1999 without a single line in the water. I found a fishing enthusiast as a buddy in Waco, and his access to golf course water hazards meant (supposedly) fish-in-a-barrel. Not to me. Never a fish in the golf course ponds.. Nor a birdie on the golf course.
For three years I sat in the Texas heat trying to catch fish. I got a boost to my fishing efforts, I thought at the time, when I moved to Alaska for a radio gig in Anchorage. They made it sound like the salmon, 80-lbs a pop, hopped right into the boat. My first chance to fish in Alaska resulted in our guide, three hours in and no fish in the boat, saying, "Wow, in 30 years of fishing this section of the (Kenai) river I've never had a morning without a single bite". Ouch.
A trip through a mountain to a body of water retreating with the tide and leaving tidal pools filled with so many salmon you can barely walk through puddles without stepping on one was just the thing to change my luck. I thought. After four hours my brother and a friend decided their arms were too sore from reeling in fish with every cast to continue. Me? I was sitting in the car listening to music and just staring at all the beauty around me.
I was done. After trying without success for over an hour I even tried to (illegally) snag a single %&$^#&*%$* salmon I put my fishing pole in the Jeep and officially retired my fishing-give-a-damn. Someone threw a package of frozen fish at me at a remote broadcast and said, "See, now you've caught a fish in Alaska".
My brother caught a trout and was nice enough to cast it back, allowing me to reel it in, while we were camping, but that was it for my fishing in Alaska, otherwise. I DID go back on a trip with the Centex Barracudas a few years after moving back to Texas that allowed me to go camping with a friend. Another 12 hours on the river and no fish. People on both sides of me pulled fish out of the water within ten minutes of each other, but not this guy.
Back in Texas for the past 11 years now, I've still not caught a fish. I've also become convinced that I'm actually bad luck for other fisherpeople. From my time on the Kenai River back to Belton Lake, I've been out on several fishing trips with experts (I'm callin' you out, Rick Smith!!!) that have ended with the words, "Sorry, guys. I've never had a day with the fishing this bad".
To illustrate my point further, during a camping trip at Live Oak I left my oldest son, Tyler, at Frank's Marina to boat across the lake near the dam to Live Oak Park to pick up the rest of my party. By the time I got back Tyler had caught an enormous fish. For the next three hours not a single fish was caught by anyone up and down the dock. Why do the fish hate me?
Thursday, July 2nd, that changed off the shore of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. For that story, click below for the exciting details that include nearly going overboard and running out of gas.