The Gift!

Archie Wilson

We went to Destin for a short family vacation August 2-6, 2012. My oldest nephew, Dakota, wanted us to go as the entire Wilson family had never all been on a vacation together. It just so happened the previous week, that my brother-in-law (my wife’s sister’s husband, Bob) had discovered a cannot turn down deal on a 2006 Sea Fox 2360 Center Console boat. Bob and I, along with my wife’s cousin Ken, went in together to purchase this boat. Since my trip was already planned, I got to take the boat on its maiden voyage. Lucky me!

First fishing trip out includes my dad and my other brother-in-law (my sister Shawna’s husband, Mark). I had purchased some GPS fishing coordinates at the Half-Hitch Tackle Store in Destin and was heading to a promising location some 17-miles east of the Destin Jetties. In route, we stumble upon some Kingfish busting baitfish. Mark and I catch 6 Kings and several Remoras. Dad does not fish the entire time. I find out later he has an upset stomach. I think he talked himself into being sea sick before we ever left the inlet. Anyhow, I record the Kingfish feeding location coordinates in our GPS and we proceed on to one of the purchased fishing coordinates. The coordinate I bought turns out to be a dud. We try several other nearby locations and catch nothing. Coming back in, we stop on the Kingfish busting hole where we catch a few more, including Mark getting broken off by something BIG. By now, the seas are getting rough so we hightail it back to Jetties East. I currently have no pictures of this day as I left my camera phone battery in my truck at the boat ramp. I think Dad managed to snap a few and I will try to get them later. All fish from the first day are released unharmed.

On the next day's fishing, we simply load the boat on the busting hole discovered from the previous day. After a slow start, we catch Kingfish after King. My son is with me and all three of my deceased sister Tina’s boys are with me. Kings are fun but not very good to eat. Fortunately, my youngest nephew on board (Kreigh) catches a puppy Mahi Mahi. Next, my middle nephew (Trey) catches a Mahi and I can see them everywhere in the water. Mahi are one of the prettiest fishes in the ocean. They remind me of pineapples with fins. It’s the color of the Mahi mostly; green, blue and yellow. Okay, I’m tasting the Mahi sandwiches when a whole school of Flippers (Porpoises) come through and eat or chase off all of the Mahi.

By now, I’m tired of trolling and decide to graph around looking for some bottom structure. All the purchased coordinates have gotten wet, so I no longer have them. Not that they were worth much since we caught zero fish from the purchased coordinates on the first day. Anyhow, we discover something that looks good on the bottom with fish all around. So, I tell my charges that we are fixin’ to catch a fish on every cast. Well technically, it is a drop as we are now bottom fishing. And let me tell you, “It is on like DONKEY KONG!” That’s an expression I heard someone else say one time and it sounds cool, so I have adopted it. My oldest nephew, Dakota, starts the fun off with a nice Red Snapper. We literally catch some kind of fish on every drop. Red Snapper (out of season so we cannot keep them), Vermillion Snapper and all kinds of other snapper for which I cannot remember the name. We have a DNR book along so we can identify what fish we can and cannot keep, as the Florida regulations are well, just plain ridiculous and downright confusing. We catch Trigger fish, Squirrel fish, and I ain’t got a clue fish. “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” by Dr. Seuss. Anyhow, I think you are getting my drift, it was a great day. By the way, to this point in our trip, I have caught nothing as I wanted my son and nephews to experience this kind of fishing. However, after feeling the jerk on the end of the line of the one that I am now holding, I can no longer stand it. So, I rig up my brand-new Dixie Custom Rods Ocean special fishing rod with a live Cigar Minnow and let the minnow free line itself out into the deep blue sea. Once the minnow is sufficiently out, I close the bail on the Penn spinning reel affixed to the new rod. While every drop is still producing some kind of bottom fish, we all forget the free line drifting the live Cigar Minnow at the back of the boat. But not for long! Pandemonium breaks loose as something slams the custom rod into the side of the boat. Already having instructed all aboard that I had been very magnanimous all day and anything which got on the live Cigar minnow was mine, I grabbed the rod. Plus, all of them had been broken off multiple times by big fish during the day, due to lack of fishing experience. I realized their chance of landing most fish likely to bite this set up, would be slim-to-none. Besides that, I just wanted to show off. I’m tempted to leave it at what a fight, because words will not do it justice, but I won’t. I have caught bigger fish, I have even caught a bigger fish of this particular species but in the back of my mind I was sensing something special about this trip. I thought that it was having my son and my three nephews aboard, knowing they had all had an eventful day. Perhaps it was a reward for being patient or was it something else. I only realize now, at my writing of this post, even at this very moment in time that it is something more. It is a gift!

It has been nearly 12 years since my sister passed away and I have never until the moment of this writing been able to properly grieve for her. I thought this writing was simply to be another post to one of my favorite fishing sites. It was not my intent to even think of my sister at this writing. It’s funny, strange even, what moments in time make us recall loved ones who have crossed over. I have tried to no avail to put my sister’s passing out of my mind. The only reason I can remember how long it’s been since her death is because my son is almost 11 years old and he was born the same year she died. My sister never even knew he would be born. I’m certain my sister would have loved my son. She would have loved to be part of this day, surrounded by her boys, and in a way she was.

I guess like most grieving people, I feel that I did not show my love for her enough or tell her how special she was. Even though I love my family, there has always been a self-imposed separation between my deep feelings for my family and myself. As always, it’s out of fear of being hurt. I could use a hundred more clichés, but I won’t.

Three things remain for me to complete the grieving process for my sister.

1.) I LOVE YOU TINA!

2.) Thank you, for the unexpected gift.

3.) Publicly grieving by allowing this article to be printed 6 years and 3 months after I originally wrote it.

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