funny how our memories are jolted into recalling events of the past. For
some it may be a sound, a picture or something else. For me it was organizing
my tackle and finding the reel given to me by an Uncle who has since passed.
a few families would pack up and make the trek from North Jersey to the
shore. As costs of renting houses rose, several of those families opted
for camping at one of the many campgrounds nearby. My Uncle was one of
those. Somehow, I either was invited or invited myself to go with
them. I can't recall which, but they we happy to have me. I spent the next
week and a half, thunder storms and all, living in a jungle hammock.
were several families present there were obviously some diverse personalities.
One of those, I will refer to him as the ‘Shadow’, is the object of my
rambling memory. There used to be a television show, ‘The White Shadow’,
about a basketball coach in an inner city school who tried to instill self
confidence and value in his students. With all he did and the effort he
gave, he just didn’t seem to fit in. It is for the latter reason
we referred to this individual as the ‘Shadow’.
I could list
so many examples which illustrate why we referred to him, in private of
course, by that name. Once we took my friends truck into town and proceeded
to almost burn it to the ground because of a pinched wire in the fire wall.
The whole time the Shadow was sitting in the bed of the truck reading some
sort of Sci-Fi book, totally oblivious to the fact that smoke was billowing
out of the engine compartment. We were running around like maniacs trying
desperately to disconnect the battery cables but he seemed wrapped up in
his own world.
A few days
into the vacation my Uncle announced that tomorrow was the day for the
fishing road trip! We would rise early and drive to Cape May to fish the
jetties. To our dismay, the Shadow wanted in. We all rose early in
anticipation of the trip. I don’t think anyone expected to really catch
anything, even though it was possible. At the time, we were not very
sophisticated in our approach, but we had fun anyway.
At first everyone
started fishing pretty close together. This is not a really good idea when
novices are present. Soon we drifted apart and some of us clambered our
way onto a jetty. There were three of us there, myself, a friend
and …the Shadow. We soon learned the error of our ways. A few times
his Hopkins whizzed past our heads or dropped right next to us as a result
of a nearly vertical cast. After about 10 minutes my friend and I
beat a hasty retreat to the beach. He remained on the rocks. No skill,
but plenty of persistence.
It was now
about an hour later and no one had caught anything or had so much as a
hit. We were on the backside of the jetty that the Shadow was fishing.
He had actually gotten the hang of casting and retrieving the Hopkins.
He had made several decent looking casts when he laid the rod down after
a particularly good looking effort. I thought he might have left the bail
closed and launched the lure into oblivion. A few minutes later he bent
down, lifted the rod and began reeling. After three or four turns
he let out a whoop that might have been heard back at the campground near
Sea Isle City. Everyone spun in unison, looking at him from the beach,
as he turned around to look at us from the far side of the rocks. I don’t
think he heard many of the instructions we yelled because we were all yelling
at once. He just kept pumping and reeling while looking over his shoulder,
back at us. The only instruction I think he heard was the ‘Get off of the
jetty’ let out by my Uncle.
He had worked
his way almost to the beach, bent rod, pumping and reeling, constantly
looking back at us, as we reached the jetty. He was still on the rocks
and we were close enough to look over the rocks towards the water on the
far side. Anticipating seeing a fish in the wash, we then heard a stream
of expletives I never heard before and haven’t heard since. Glancing around
we noticed a man hopping towards the beach, one leg pointed towards
the rocks, spewing foul words one after the other. He kept reaching for
his leg when one of us noticed that shiny Hopkins hanging from it. We all
ducked behind the rocks and although it wasn’t funny, began to laugh.
Shadow cast the lure out, let it sit on the bottom and roll around on the
incoming tide with the bail open. This caused a big bow in the line
because of the wind and tide. This gentleman, rod in hand, waded
out between the jetty and the lure. The rest is self explanatory.
Needless to say, we returned to the campground empty handed, but we have
always pay attention to what you are doing when fishing. Face forward when
casting and retrieving and ….don’t worry, the Shadow hasn’t gone fishing
Copyright © 2000 - 2011 T. Hallbauer, All Rights Reserved