Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fishing with My Father

Today is National Go Fishing Day, which apparently is recognized every year on June 18.  I only read about it a few months ago and put it on my calendar to write about.  Coming only two days after Father's Day this year, it became more appropriate as a topic with the recent passing of my father, as he is the person with whom I primarily fished.

All of my fishing was in Florida.  We caught fish to take home for meals, fishing from the beach, a dock, or a small boat.  The very first time I went fishing, we stayed on the beach and cast out into Choctawhatchee Bay.  It took a little while for something to take my bait.  When it did, it fought pretty hard, and I had to work to get it to shore.  When I finally landed it, I was really excited and started walking toward it.

Suddenly my father yelled out, "Don't touch it!"  I turned to him to ask what was wrong and then looked back toward my catch — which was now gone!  It had bitten through the line and taken it back into the water with itself.

And that's when my father told me that what I had caught for my very first fish was a moray eel.  So much for eating that for dinner!

Since I barely got to see the eel before it retreated back into the bay, I don't know what type of moray it was.  There seem to be at least three that are found in the Gulf of Mexico off the northwest coast of Florida — blacktail, chain, and reticulate.  I found this photo of a reticulate moray which was caught in the Gulf of Mexico.  Maybe that's the type I landed that day.

"Juvenile reticulate moray (Muraena retifera). Gulf of Mexico."*

*Fish4333.  Credit:  SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory, Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Image available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaaphotolib/5187500247.

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