Going out with the Old Guard of Nantucket harbor. The Albacore is the longest running fishing charter on Nantucket, and for good reason. At the helm you will find Bob and Ray. Staples of the harbor, and the men you want in charge of putting you on the bite. They are the ones with the knowledge; they are the ones that put people onto the fish of their lifetime.
When I went out with this crew, I was unaware I would be experiencing the first fish “powder day” to put it in terms more familiar to my world. These boys had been waiting patiently all spring to hit the deep water. And when the time came to get after it, there was not a soul on the boat without a a red lining energy level. With a fresh engine and all fully stoked crew, the Albacore fired up and the beast to charged into the blue.
The aim of the day was black Sea Bass, and I was going to get a show. I learned from a young age that fishing was not my sport. Hours were spent watching my brother and father pull catch after catch while I stood with rod in hand, rage eventually overcoming the disappointment. I was quick to realize I didn't have the temperament. “There’s a reason they call it fishing not catching” never helped lessen the sting. And so I have found solace in bringing the camera to shoot the act. In doing so, I always catch something.
I only mention this background because, given all of that, even I pulled three fish out of the Atlantic that day. We went out and hit it hard. And being a part of a crew like that, where even after countless seasons on the water, the level of excitement was as high as I’d ever seen, made each fish seem like a record breaker.
Stoke is contagious. If you are around people who love what they are doing there isn't a chance that eventually, no matter how miserable you may be going in, that the excitement will not creep into your pores. Soon enough leaving you beaming and yelling as wriggling bodies come flying out of the swirling waves.
At one chaotic moment, every single person on board had fish on the line. Laughs and yells rang on non stop. Constant comparisons to determine fish of the day accompanied the insults to those who found themselves on the wrong end of that scale. It was a damn good time.
With the limit reached, Bob hit the gas and the boat leapt back into its happy place of cutting through the water. The guys sat, beers in hand, reflecting on how good it felt to be back on the water. And talking of who was going to keep what, and how they would be cooking it. The feeling of, “I am totally content in the moment that I currently am living in”. A feeling that sinks its hooks in, literally and figuratively, to your spirit. And will bring people back time after time.
We hit the docks and, beers in hand, the fish went to the cut table where they were quickly cut down to take away filets for the whole crew. Nantucket is a special place, and people go for many reasons. But as I watched the fish get picked clean by the filet knife, with an awe struck crowd of passersby, it was very clear that its lifeblood still remains with fishing. It is the reason for the first boom of the island's popularity, and it shows now that those roots remain strong in those who call it home. People come back year after year to go out on the charters, the Albacore at the head of the pack, and now I fully understand why.