Catching the Big One

I have always loved the ocean, coming from a family of sailors, lobstermen, seafood chefs, fish market owners—I think there’s even a few whalers somewhere in our family’s foggy past. For a large part of my life, I have lived less than a mile from the salt water. But until last summer, when a friend reeled me in to an Osterville Anglers Club fishing tournament for a good cause, I had never touched a fishing pole. I thought jigging was something my grandparents used to call dancing.

And the only time I ever talked about fishing was when I used one of those sayings to sum up a situation, like “Fish or cut bait.” Any one will tell you that editors have a bad weakness for quotes, aphorisms, or clever sayings of any kind.

Last spring, my friend Missy called and asked if I would like to take part in an Osterville Anglers Club fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” event called the Ladies Shoal Troll. Missy—who falls hook, line, and sinker for lots of good causes—asked if I wanted to come along for the fun. “You can write about it for the magazine,” she said. “You don’t have to actually fish. Just come!”

Catching the Big One

How bad can this be, I thought. Cruising around on a nice summer Saturday morning with a boatload of fun women captained by a cute guy? “Sure,” I said to Missy. “I’ll do it!”

The first glimmer of reality came when I heard that we had to get up, on my day off, before sunrise. When my alarm woke me, it was dark out and pouring rain. I sank back into my pillow and thought, “Oh good, it’s raining. We won’t go!” This relief was quickly followed by the realization that fish—obviously—don’t care if it’s raining.

I gulped down some coffee and dashed through puddles to the dock in Osterville where our resourceful captain, Scott Swaylik, and his dad, Dick, waited for their crew to appear. The crew (some dressed in flip-flops and short-shorts) crowded on to Scott’s 28-foot Mako center console boat, the First Nichol.

After some quick instructions, we headed out of the harbor in the near darkness. By the time we cleared the cut near Dead Neck and Sampson’s Island, the all-female crew in the open cockpit were soaked to the skin. We huddled together and tried not to think about warm beds left behind. Breakfast. Saturday mornings with nothing to do.

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Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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