So listen to this. I’m fishing on the beach yesterday, early morning in front of that house with the collapsed stairs – you know the one I mean, right? – and I’m trying to cast out past the sand bar instead of aiming for the slough because the water’s been warming – close to 70, I read – and I’m trying to reach cooler water. So anyway, I wade in up to the bottom of my trunks and cast – I’m using shrimp – and I walk the line back to the sand spike and slide the rod in. Then I do the same thing with the other rod – I only took two rods yesterday. So I’m waiting – maybe 20 minutes, long time, almost ready to quit – and I get a hard hit. I give it a few seconds for the hook to set and then lift up the rod and start reeling. From the fight, I’m thinking it’s a blue fish – you getting a lot of them lately? Some guys actually eat them. – but it’s not. It’s a pompano. A pompano! They’re supposed to be gone by now, right? Up to the Carolinas, right? Anyway, so I drag him onto the beach, and get the hook out, and hurry back to my mat and backpack cooler where I keep my tape measure.
Well, there’s an egret standing by the mat, and he doesn’t move even when I get right next to him. I’m going fast in case I need to run back to the surf to release the fish, otherwise I’d stop to take this all in. Anyway, I get twelve inches and a little more. I’m good, I figure, but I reach into a backpack pocket for the size limit chart anyway because it’s been over a year since I hooked a pompano, and it says fourteen inches. That can’t be, I think, so I check again. Pal, I’m keeping my finger on the page so I’m sure I have the right minimum lined up with the right fish: fourteen inches. This is crazy, I’m thinking! This is a good-size fish, maybe two pounds. So, now I’m thinking maybe I’ll keep it anyway. I look up and down the beach: no one. I’m actually reaching for the cooler zipper when the egret catches my eye. He’s looking right at me, like right into me with those eerie yellow markings around the eyes, and it comes over me that I’ve got to release the fish. So, I run back down to the water and I do it. Actually, I feel better for it, good even.
That’s when the second rod bends down and starts jerking. So I race over and grab it and reel. It’s a pompano! No kidding! And it’s got to be the same size as the first one, twelve, thirteen inches. Don’t ask me why. but I look toward the mat, and there’s the egret, halfway between me and the mat and he’s looking right at me with that yellow around his eyes. It’s like there’s an invisible beam cutting into me. And he’s still, totally still, like a lawn ornament. So, I bend down into the frothy water and let the fish go.
But wait, I’m not done. So I fish some more without a hard hit until, with the last of my bait, I catch a third pompano, a really big one; fourteen inches at least, I figure. And what’s the first thing I do? I look for the egret! Crazy, right? But he’s not there! I look up and down the beach. He’s gone! So I go to the mat and stick the fish in the backpack ice. And, here’s the reason I’m telling you this: I’m collecting my things to go home, right? And, when I pick up the size limit chart to pack it away – don’t ask me why I do this – I look up pompano again – I can tell from your face you already get it – and it says eleven inches. Eleven! You can check it yourself!
And that’s the story. Crazy, right?
Beer? Oh, let me show you this welk shell I found in the sand yesterday. It’s perfect! It’s over here in the kitchen. Here, look!
*Fiske med Loki