My dad taught me to fish when I was just a little girl. We started with pond-fishing basics—how to tie a knot, how to rig the rod and of course how to bait the hook with those dreaded worms. I soon had the fundamentals down and he could finally get a line or two in himself.
Those childhood fishing trips with Dad—those hours spent sitting together on the shore or in a boat—gave us a lot of time to build family bonds. And the memories we created made me encourage my kids to fish years later, when I had children of my own.
Unfortunately, Dad passed away just about the time my kids were getting old enough to start learning more than the basics of fishing. They missed out on a great teacher and fishing companion, so I did my best to teach them the way I know he would have, and to tell them stories that exemplified the kind of man and kind of angler he was.
One of my proudest memories of him is from years ago, when he and a friend borrowed his boss’ boat. They launched out of Dana Point, California, to hunt for the mighty marlin. This was no small feat. Dad and his friend had been unsuccessful at boating a marlin—even after countless outings.
Amazingly, each of them caught a marlin that afternoon! Ecstatic, they began heading back to port, with their trophies proudly in tow.
It had been a perfect day until they neared shore and a pea-soup-thick fog rolled in. Fortunately, they had a marine radio and called for help. Another boater responded to the call, saying that he had them on his radar and would talk them in.
As it turned out, however, that ship was all the way down in San Diego and was tracking a different boat. My unsuspecting dad was inadvertently guided straight into the rocks at Little Corona.
Then it happened—just as the hull smashed into the rocks, his friend started having chest pains!
So, lets recap. The fog is so thick you can’t see anything. You just smashed your boss’ boat against the rocks. And worst of all, your best friend is suffering a heart attack! My dad did the only thing he knew to: He picked up his ailing friend, jumped into the freezing ocean and pulled him to shore where he summoned paramedics to the scene.
Once he was sure his friend was in good hands, he jumped back into the water and made two more trips back to the boat to save both marlin! Then, he headed out one more time to save what he could from the boat (which ended up completely totaled from the collision from the rocks).
When my dad got home that night, he set up two big saw horses in the driveway, spread the big fish across them and began to masterfully produce savory inch-thick marlin steaks.
The next day, the valiant story had hit the local newspapers and my dad had his 15 minutes of fame. He went to visit his friend early that morning and the first thing out of his friend’s mouth was, “Did you save the fish?”
Member Patti McLoon lives in Lake Forest, California. She works as a real estate broker and is married with two children. Her new favorite fishing spot is Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet, California.