By Dave Anderson
In our sport you meet a lot of characters. I have so many stories from my years fishing the surf I could fill a book, some are scary, some are just plain awesome and some downright hilarious. My friend Don is the source of many of my most hilarious stories. I met him back in 2002 and despite being more than 30 years my senior, we struck an immediate friendship that lasts to this day. I have learned a lot about fishing from Don but what I’ve really learned from Don is that people will believe anything if you can sell it with a straight face.
One day while fishing the Canal, this was before the great invasion of experts, probably around 2005. Don and I were fishing in the vicinity of the Herring Run and it was already late in the tide with a high, hot sun. We were among the only people left casting, there were a few fish still trickling through, but the bite was mostly dead. And then I heard some commotion on the service road behind me. Three people with fishing rods, a rolling cooler, two brand new 5-gallon pails, coffee, doughnuts, suntan lotion, you get the idea, were making a beeline for the mouth of the Run. Don was stationed about 50 feet to the left of the outflow and this “ménage a trois” was hell-bent on staking a claim on that last 50 feet!
What I haven’t told you is that Don is THE master at messing with people. He takes on many guises to do so, from pretending he’s blind, or acting like a manchild or that he’s a halfwit, he’s a pro and he can keep a straight face through ANYTHING.
As the three stumbled down the embankment and set up camp in Don’s pocket I recognized a change in Don’s posture, his body went stiff, his head listing uneasily to one side, a look of pure vacancy washed over his sun-punished face and wide eyes. He started off by fishing with his Van Staal reel facing upward—reeling backward—and yelling out incoherent gibberish, casting his lure practically straight up and working it like he was trying to dislodge a rogue lobster pot. His neighbors looked over in puzzlement while I tried to keep a steady jaw. But they didn’t budge.
Don then brought his rod back to cast again releasing the line at the apex of his backcast, launching the lure backwards into a low tree. He then pitched his $1000 rig into the grass, lurched forward and half fell into the rocks. He began picking up garbage left behind by ignorant anglers, studying it closely (like 1-inch from his face) and then haphazardly tossing it around all the while squawking more of his odd ramblings. Our three friends started to look and sound a little nervous, but they again elected to stay.
At this point, Don was in it to win it and was not about to break character. On his hands and knees now and getting louder by the second, he crawled along the rocks staggering in a way that only Don can; and then, like a gift from the heavens, he found the prop that he was looking for. Don came up with a discarded beer bottle clenched in his fist, made a loud sound that I could only compare to drunken version of ‘eureka!’ and tipped the bottle back as if to feign a heavy swig.
What he did not plan for was the payload of brown, stagnant water and other gulge that had been swilling in that bottle for an untold number of days, weeks or months. A cascade of ick leached out of the bottle, onto his face, all over his neck and down the front of his shirt. Fazed only for a millisecond, Don spat several times, let out another squatchy yowl and C-R-A-W-L-E-D down the rocks to the water’s edge where he washed his face like a well-fed otter. At this point, I was in absolute hysterics—Don flashed me a satisfied smirk and crawled all the way back up the rocks to prepare to make some kind of insane attempt to retrieve his plug from the bushes. But there was no need as Don’s neighbors packed up their shantytown and hurriedly headed west.
Of course, they moved about 300 feet away and Don went right back to fishing like a normal person. As the bite had already fallen off to almost nothing, we made about six or seven more casts before heading to the Crow’s Nest for some breakfast. That’s just one of the many stories in the saga of Don, perhaps I’ll share more here at a later date. So if you ever find yourself taking surf fishing too seriously, channel your inner Don and remember it’s supposed to fun and it’s REALLY fun when it’s hilarious!
We had a major headache over the weekend when some of our subscribers whose credit cards were expired or they changed them from the time they subscribed last year received unnecessary emails from the magazine. The software went a bit crazy in spitting out emails one after another Monday morning. Although Tom and I already apologized to you privately I want to take this opportunity to do it again. We believe we isolated the issue and have our web guru working on fixing it. There is no way in the world we would ever configure this renewal system where you would get more that one email per day. That was a little disturbing and even more disturbing was that I did not know about it until an irritated subscriber contacted me at which point I immediately shut the system down and contacted our web guy. Guys, we know we are going to have some growing pains but please in the future, if you are receiving unnecessary notices from SJ of any kind, particularly same email over and over contact me ASAP. After all, I had no idea until I was told by our reader. Another egg on the face..but I guess we all have to take our lumps and learn from it.