My Fishing began with beginner's luck. The first time I put my line in the water, in North Carolina in the summer of 1977, it was attacked by a pair of croakers and I ended the day with eight fish.
Last summer my husband, Gary, and I decided to try deep-sea fishing. We went on The Buccaneer, a headboat out of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
It was a drizzly day, and a thick mist drifted over the harbor. The boat was crowded with three dozen people, from all over New England and as far away as Washington and Maryland.
We left harbor about 8:20 and arrived at our first stop an hour later. After choosing our fishing rods, we gathered around while the captain showed us how to hold them.
"Keep the line taut," he said. "Move the rod up and down, don't just let it sit in the water, because the fish are attracted to the flash of the jig."
He said he would tag each party's fish to keep track of who had caught what. "When I blow the horn, it's the signal to begin."
Everyone jockeyed for position along the rails. The horn sounded and we dropped our lines into the deep blue ocean.
"I've caught the first fish of the day!" screamed the man next to me. Unfortunately, a man at the other end of the boat had beat him by a few seconds.
"Gaff! Gaff!" Gary screamed and the captain hauled aboard the huge cod on his line. "Cod are easy to catch because they don't put up a fight," my husband informed me.
I felt a heavy pull on the line and begged my husband to help boat the gigantic fish. When neither he nor I could do it we screamed for the captain, who said I'd snagged the bottom. He freed it.
I tangled my line with my husband's and then tangled again with another man's. The captain couldn't clear that mess and told us to get new rods and "get fishing!"
Following that came seasickness. "I guess the two of you just aren't cut out for the sea," a boy said. The man next to us had taken Dramamine beforehand and advised us to do the same next time.
"Look at the horizon," the captain said. The trick worked. As my quesiness faded my interest in fish revived. I was hoping to catch at least one, but had no luck at our first two stops.
By the third and final stop I had given up. "I feel like I'm pumping for oil," said another strikeout victim. I knew how he felt.
Then I felt an enormous tug on my line, and knew it was the real thing. "Gaff! gaff!" I shouted as I pulled in my first and only catch of the day. The captain gaffed and marked the medium-size cod.
When my husband came up with a mackerel's head, probably the victim of a hungry shark, the man next to me said, "I think he deserves a prize for the most unique catch."
The most unusual catch was a wolf fish, a large, dark creature that looked like a bull-dog with daggerlide teeth.
"That's the ugliest fish I've ever seen," a woman said.
"Makes good eating," the captain said.
Among the catch were cod, mackerel, herring and "cusk," another cod variety. Some small sharks wer thrown back.
The mate weighed and filleted the fish. Gary's 12-pound cod was the third-largest catch of the day. My cod was a 10-pounder.
As we headed in the captain crowed that we'd caught 1,500 pounds of fish, "the best we've done in a month and a half!"
"Make sure you have everything," he said as we approached the dock. "One time someone left a seven-year-old boy on board, and I wondered if she did it on purpose."