05/15/09 — Day of deep-sea fishing ends with unexpected big prize

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Day of deep-sea fishing ends with unexpected big prize

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 15, 2009 1:46 PM

During my 26 years on God's green Earth, my mother has taught me a lifetime worth of lessons including the immeasurable value of patience, perseverance and forming lasting memories with the best of friends.

Last weekend, on a deep-sea fishing trip with five friends off the North Carolina coast, those lessons returned.

Our day-long trip booked with the Captain Stacy Fishing Center in Atlantic Beach got pushed back to Mother's Day due to rough seas.

Faced with an entire day to fill, my buddies and I opted to spend the afternoon on the beach along Emerald Isle before cleaning up and heading out to eat Saturday evening at the iconic Sanitary Fish Market.

After going to bed fairly early that night, my alarm sounded at four a.m. Sunday letting me know a full day of fishing and memories awaited on the open sea.

My friends and I arrived at the dock around 5 a.m. and before long we were aboard the Gulf Stream, a 42-foot converted lobster boat. Two hours and 35 miles off the coast later, our 17-year-old first mate Thomas began preparing us for an unforgettable day of fishing.

I spent the first few hours battling sea sickness. I eventually realized that if I rested on a bunk inside the ship's cabin, my stomach would settle. I had to wrestle with staying awake, too.

We used a trolling technique with 12 different rods rigged with ballyhoo, while artificial teasers aided our cause. Around midday I awoke to someone shouting my name from the deck, letting me know it was my turn to battle what was wriggling on the other end of the line.

I rushed to the deck and before I knew it a rod had been shoved in my hands and I was settled into the fighting chair engaged in a war of attrition with a dolphin.

Words of encouragement and instruction seemed to fly from every corner of the boat as I reeled like my life depended on it. As the fight raged on, my shoulders began to burn, but determination set in and eventually I landed a dolphin measuring roughly four feet and 25 pounds.

This process of rushing from the cabin to the boat's deck continued throughout the day, leaving me feeling as much like an accomplished relief pitcher as it did a fisherman.

Following an afternoon of successful fishing we arrived back at the dock around 5 o'clock. The sense of accomplishment that came from unloading our catch, watching it weigh in at 305 pounds and lugging cooler after cooler of fish to the car made waiting an extra day and battling sea sickness worth the trip.

As I collapsed into bed and drifted off to sleep Sunday evening I couldn't help but think of my five friends, the memories we made and a Mother's Day I'll never forget.