A Fishing Trip with My Dad

As I finished unpacking, I could see the sun coming up over the horizon. I gazed out the window of our room and thought of many pleasant childhood memories of time spent with my father. Our relationship was very close as he taught me about many aspects of life, such as dancing, dangers in the street, and about the relationships between men and women. As I grew up, we developed an intuitive sense of when to talk. We were more than father and daughter; we were friends as well. What I remember most was his love of fishing, which often caused fights between my parents. My father went fishing every weekend. Although he tried many times to convince me to go, I never had the courage to go fishing with him on the open waters of the Caribbean. I felt too afraid.

I had been living in the United States for six months, when in the summer of 2015, my husband and I went on a fishing trip to Aristazabal Island in British Columbia, Canada with some co-workers of my husband who had previously made this trip. I was over forty years old, and this was my first fishing experience as well as my first time on the high seas.

It was evening when the helicopter delivered us to the island. As we landed, I noticed there was a strong smell of fish. During the trip, we stayed in an L-shaped lodge on the edge of the port that was constructed from two old ships. The next morning we were divided into groups, and a man named Tim was assigned as our fishing guide for the next three days. We left the port, and after some time, the small boat reached top speed. As I tried to clear my mind, I tightly clutched the swivel chair. Silently I told my father, "Stay by my side and help me to be brave. I am here more for you than me." Standing behind me, my father rested his hands on my shoulders; he made me feel confident.

The day was bright, and the sunlight reflected off the sea. We were about ten miles from the dock when Tim gestured. According to his experience and the fish detector, we were in an area with salmon all around us. After we anchored, Tim asked me, "Belkis, have you ever gone fishing before?" I replied, "No, but my dad loved deep sea fishing." He smiled and began to instruct us on how to use the fishing rod and reel. I paid very close attention to what Tim was saying because I wanted to learn how to fish. After a few minutes of practicing what I had learned, Tim baited and cast my line into the water and then handed the pole back to me. I put it in the rod holder and fixed my eyes on the fishing line. Suddenly I saw the movement that signaled I had a fish! I grabbed the pole from the holder and began reeling with all my might. At this moment, I finally understood the excitement my dad felt when he caught a fish. In my mind, I could see the anticipation on his face. Then the wind caused the boat to sway heavily, and I immediately felt nauseous and got a headache. I felt dizzy and was concerned that my legs would not support me much longer. I told my husband, "Oh my God, I'm going to vomit!" He asked me if I had taken my Dramamine that morning. "No, I forgot it. It's still in our bedroom," I replied. My sea sickness was so violent and sudden, catching a fish was the furthest thought from my mind, and all I wanted to do was get off that boat.

I cannot stand on the boat, so I am not able to fish. I am disappointing my dad. My father was an excellent fisherman, always returning home loaded with a large variety of fish, such as grouper and tuna. Our fridge was so full of fish, you couldn't close the door. I desperately wanted to make my dad proud of me. I took my Dramamine and put on my rain gear. I was ready to try again.

Before sunrise the next morning, we left port. Tim suggested we go to an area where we could find large fish. The speed of the boat increased, and I held on tight. I was looking at the sea, which appeared gloomy. I was scared! With my father, I had learned how to swim, but on a boat, I was afraid I'd fall into the water and sink quickly, never to return. The wind caused water to splash on my face. I controlled my nerves, and Dad turned to me trying to give me courage. About fifteen minutes later, we anchored and cast our lines out. I watched my fishing line for a long time, and suddenly, I had a fish again. I jumped up, grabbed my pole and immediately began to reel in my catch. As the fish tried to pull away, he caused the rod to bend. I released some line, and the fish started swimming away. I reeled in some line again, but this time slowly and firmly. I could feel him struggling to get loose, but my father said to me, "Do not let him go! That's our fish!" My husband and Tim yelled at me. "You can do it!" I finally succeeded. It's was a big fish. My father and I laughed, full of emotion. We felt so happy and were celebrating. The moment I caught the fish, I forgot all about the sea. By noon, my husband had caught two salmon, and I had six.

Our last day on the island was beautiful. I woke up early after enjoying a deep, relaxing sleep. We were very successful this particular day; it was an excellent fishing day. I do not know how many salmon I caught. I know there were Chinook and coho salmon, and one of them was quite big. Sometimes Tim told me, “Let it go. It's very small and you already have reached your goal!" Oh, that feeling, that excitement!

We moved to the other side of the island. I was very relaxed. It was a very sunny afternoon and the sea was calm. I took the time to observe its beauty and intense blue color. The sea is portrayed beautifully in photographs, but nothing can replace the intensity of it in real life. I wanted to capture that singular moment when I finally felt at peace with the sea. I could now understand what my father was always saying.

Just then we saw some whales playing together, and I started recording a video to show our kids. We forgot about the whales as soon my husband realized he had a halibut on his line. It's a fish that very few had caught. Our attention eventually returned to fishing, but suddenly the immense whales were within five meters of us. They began to swim around and underneath the boat, and one almost upended it. I grabbed the boat firmly, holding my camera and continued recording. Tim began to worry. He collected the fishing rods and lifted the anchor since the other whales were trying to do the same thing, but eventually the whales moved away. When everything returned to normal again, I shuddered at the thought of what could have happened if our boat had turned over and had fallen into the cold water. I just wanted to get back, so we decided to end the fishing trip early and return to the lodge.

That night I went to the restaurant because everyone from the trip was meeting for dinner. Someone commented that a woman had caught many large salmon. I did not understand what they were saying, and an employee approached me and said, ''Congratulations!” I replied, "Thank you!" At the time, I thought they must congratulate everyone for catching some fish. Later we sat on the porch, and one of the leaders of our group approached saying, "I've been looking for you! Here is your cash prize." What a surprise for me! I never thought I could compete with this group of Americans and experienced fishermen. I got two prizes: second place for catching a Chinook salmon weighing over thirty pounds and first place for catching a coho salmon that was over fifteen pounds. Welcome to the fishing club of North King Lodge!

Back home I was thinking about my father. He had passed away five years before. He had left this life but was still with me. He was the one who had caught the fish. My most important accomplishment was facing my fears, and for the first time, I had gone fishing with my father.