Early in the morning, on the boat ride on our way out of the channel, we would pass the oyster bars. For me that smell was everything. I would close my eyes and breathe it all in. It meant that my mind and my heart could rest. I would have a break from heartache. I was free.
Macarages during a goliath grouper catch-and-release in Pine Island, Florida in 2015.
Years later, times and hearts changed. I married someone else, and we were blessed with two boys. We divorced, because sadly, life happens to us all.
A month, almost to the day later, my former marine biology teacher (who I had remained close to for twenty years and who had given me away at my wedding) lost his battle with cancer, and we lost a wonderful human.
As I tried to recover, I remembered how my outdoor experiences in high school shaped and changed me and helped me heal. I decided that I should provide that for my boys. We needed some adventures, and soon.
Macarages with her sons Paxton (10) and Cooper(13) in May 2018.
So, that's what I give them.
We started taking beach trips for surf fishing. You don’t know tired until you have taken a 9 and 6 year old surf fishing. I have fought the wind and the current all while tying lines and baiting hooks, casting lines all with the hopes that they would just catch something and maybe love it the way I do.
It didn’t happen the first time. But that second time, Paxton cast his own line and caught a shark. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so happy (except for maybe me when I caught my first Spanish mackerel). He made a scene, dancing and singing. Strangers even stopped to take pictures. He was hooked, and my heart was full.
When they were a little older, I chartered their first inshore fishing trip. We were on a mission to hook basically anything that would be a fun fight. As luck would have it, we caught our limit of redfish. These were the biggest and fastest fish they had ever caught.
We have had lots of fishing trips and laughs since then. Most recently, we had a “blast-and-cast” trip. We went duck hunting in the morning and fishing in the afternoon. That day, they both bagged their first ducks and snook.
They learned we take only what we need and release the rest. We leave more for the next folks or the next trip. If they love catching trout and redfish, their passion for the ocean and its inhabitants will keep them fired up about protecting and preserving the coastlines and the estuaries that they love so much.