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Notes from the Apocalypse

One More Cast

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By Charles Morgan III

 

This is the time of year when warm days, sunny skies and a southeast breeze mean that cobia season is near.

 

It’s the nature of fishermen to be optimistic. There are plenty of other things in life to be realistic about.

 

But it’s tough to have optimism when you’ve spent 40 years in the Gulf trying to find cobia, and the fishing has been on the wane for the past two decades.

 

One hard and fast rule in betting—particularly in football—is to pay attention to trends. If a team has covered the spread, as an underdog, at home, for eight games in a row you don’t think, “Well, I bet they don’t do it the next game.”

 

If you are inclined to bet on the upcoming cobia season, you’d better take the under regardless of what the line is.

 

The decline in the cobia fishery could be from fishing pressure. Cobia fishing grew dramatically in popularity over the last 20 years.

 

It could be related to the BP oil spill, which occurred on April 20, 2010. It happened at the height of the cobia migration, in the area cobia have always spawned. The oil spill itself was not as toxic as the corexit that was sprayed to disperse the oil.

 

It could be due to the warming temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico that dramatically affect migrating fish. Water temperature and currents determine when fish travel and where they end up.

 

Times are strange when bonefish, permit and snook show up along the northern Gulf Coast and cobia show up in record numbers in North Carolina and Virginia.

 

I fell in love with fishing—and learned how to read—through a gift from my grandfather. I had subscriptions to Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield when I was six years old.

 

My family didn’t take many vacations, but when we did my parents made sure we were in close proximity to a lake or pond or creek. When we first visited Destin, I knew we’d hit the jackpot.

 

On countless days, as the sun disappeared, I’d stand on the bank of a pond, or on a dock, and long past dinnertime, when my parents’ patience was wearing thin, I’d beg: “One more cast.”

 

I’m not a naturally optimistic person. When the question is posed, “Is a glass half full or half empty?” my question is always, “How big is the glass?”

 

But still, and against all odds, I’m looking forward to another cobia season on the Hey Baby. After all, we’ve won the last two Crab Crunchers, the biggest cobia tournaments in the world. We are one of the few boats that actually makes money cobia fishing.

 

There’s also the camaraderie that comes with spending hours with grown men in a tower, getting beat up, sunburned and nauseous.

 

I don’t fish much with Goose anymore. He graduated to a big, fine yacht. But I can reminisce about our hours on the water and his scintillating contribution to conversations.

 

We’d stick to simple topics. Years ago, when we used to catch fish, Mike Woodham would open up our dialogue after a couple of hours of total silence. The question was always the same.

 

“Well, Goose,” he’d ask. “What’d ya have for dinner last night?”

 

Goose would light a cigarette and take a couple of puffs while conjuring an answer.

 

“Well,” he’d drawl, and then take another drag. “I cain’t remember.”

 

I once explained to Goose that I had plenty of friends and that while I liked him okay, I didn’t pay him to stand up in the tower to be my friend and I certainly didn’t drive him around to enjoy his lively banter.

 

It wouldn’t be long before he’d respond with the greatest line he ever had. And he used it a lot.

 

“Thar’s one over there,” he’d say.

 

“Well, I don’t see it Goose,” I’d usually reply.

 

‘Well, that’s cause it’s way over thar,” he’d say.

 

As a kid I used to ask for “one more cast.”

 

There’s optimism in that.

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