August 30, 2017

Some days are better than others

I took some time off and let Alan write for me this week.

     As he worked the jig on the end of his line back toward the bank, I chuckled. Reminding me of a funky dance move, his twisting jerk would have made Chubby Checker proud.
     Winding our way through the edge of the spartina cordgrass, we were proud to trot the wild horse trail. No, we hadn’t saddled a steed -- we were lugging our tackle like pack mules. And if you have ever pulled prickly coastal pear cactus from your flip-flop clad foot, you too appreciate a well-established marsh path.
     You see, the night before, we had tided off our boat in a remote saltwater creek. Miles from a floating dock, we drifted up to a ridge at high tide, trimmed the motor high and secured her with rope to an oak tree. On the rare chance a late-night rogue would pilfer through our stuff, we carried our poles and tackle with us.
     The tides of the Georgia coast normally fluctuate six feet twice daily. We knew she would be sitting high and dry when we returned. So we planned to fish the incoming tide and untie when we could.
      Our target was flounder. But William wanted to explore first. So he marched off downstream along the edge of the marsh, and I eased between casts back toward the ocean.
     Without finding one strike, I heard William sloshing up behind me. Turning around, I was greeted by a big smile. Our 8-year old son was caked in mud from the waist down, holding his flip-flops. “Boys will be boys,” I said to myself as I bit my lip and asked him to follow me. I reached a patch of white sand and instructed him to scrub off the pluff mud with sand.
     Understanding he was getting a pass, he did this very quickly and efficiently.
I returned to the boat and tied on a jig for William, who joined me in the pursuit for supper. After watching his technique for a bit and laughing, I realized I still hadn’t landed one fish. In fact, I hadn’t even gotten a bite.
     As I turned around to cast, I heard the water break and then flapping on the bank. Spinning around, William was really dancing now with an 18-inch flounder at his feet. After a big hug and several fist bumps, we were back fishing, and within minutes he landed another doormat. And then another.
     At the end of the day, William had skunked his dad for the first time, and I grew up a little, too. Maintaining patience is paramount, especially when your focus is fun. And again, I was reminded, children are our greatest blessing.
     Some days are better than others.

(Alan NeSmith is publisher of The Northeast Georgian in Cornelia, Ga. Email him at