Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Troubled Waters

My father has had serious health problems recently. They have gotten so bad the doctor told me if I want to visit him I need to do it now. He was showing signs of dementia and his organs were shutting down. I made the quick decision to fly out to San Diego and visit him. The day I landed I spent the afternoon and evening at the hospital. My father looked pale and seemed to be in some pain but his mind seemed ok. The nurses would often ask him if he remembered his name, where he was and the year. He could answer all of the questions fine. After the nurses left I decided to ask him a few questions.  The first was what was my wifes name, then the grandkids. He couldn't name them but he behaved like they were on the tip of his tongue and he just couldn't come up with the words. Then I asked if he could tell me his dad's name. He struggled and I could see in his eyes the confusion and fear of understanding that he should know this information but can't come up with it. This really bothered me and I decided to stop asking questions because it was only going to stress us both out. While I was in San Diego I decided I'd go fishing to keep my sanity. There was a recent power outage that caused a huge sewage spill into the ocean. It covered a large area. I was able to go north of it but I probably still fished in water that was contaminated.

When I got to the parking lot it was a welcoming sight. Only a few cars were seen and the people getting out were metal detector nerds. They scour the sand looking for buried treasure or some person who was unlucky enough to drop a diamond ring. I got my gear ready and occasionally checked over my shoulder for other anglers. As I finished rigging my rod and headed towards the beach I didn't see another soul fishing.  There were people enjoying the darkness before sunrise. Joggers and tourists gawking at the waves rolling in. I had stopped by the So Cal Fly Shop the day before to get some information and flies. They had a fly box full of popular surf patterns for $20. I thought that was a pretty good deal. I felt some what prepared but I still didn't have any idea of what I was doing. I cast out parallel to the waves rolling in and realized the name of the game was line management. It was hard to keep the line straight and have a good feeling of where the fly was at.  Waves would catch the sinking line and jerk it out to the ocean or make it go slack sliding the fly towards shore. It was frustrating but I kept working at it. I couldn't see any sign of life in the water. I was told to fish ankle deep water. It was hard to discipline myself to stick to that. The waist deep water looked so inviting and that had to be where the bigger fish were. Seeing a wake and two good size fish breech the surface and escape to deeper water changed my thinking. The fish I was going for was called a Corbina. 
The fish looks similar to a drum. They spook very easy and are hard to sneak up on. Honestly I'd see most of them at the same time they spotted me. They'd disappear in a cloud of mud. The fish would ride in with the surf and hang out in depressions in the sand. I tried all of the flies I had bought. I thought many times that I had a hit but I couldn't really tell. The current was playing with my line. I tried casting at all angles. Towards the ocean, away from it, parallel. I really felt lost. Then a perch decided to throw me a bone. I felt the familiar tap on the end of my line. I set the hook and the fish felt like a bluegill. I was over joyed. This was my first saltwater fish caught on a fly.
From Summer'11
The fish was more colorful than the picture shows. Even with the enjoyment of what I had accomplished my mind couldn't shake the true reason I was in San Diego. I went back to the hospital and fished again in the afternoon but it didn't feel right.  My mind couldn't concentrate and the frustrations with the current and line were getting to me. I didn't fish again while I was there and spent the rest of the time with family and at the hospital. My father's memory went in and out. At times he could remember the names of the people I had asked him earlier. Then other times he could remember the month but not the year. Or he could remember the year but not the date.  The whole thing was kind of sad. The doctors couldn't find anything major wrong with him. The theory is he's had a couple strokes which are causing the memory problems. Honestly it could be a lot of things. Years of a hard life and diabetes are catching up to him. The hardest part of this trip was the true meaning for me. I looked at it as my time to say good bye. I think in a few months my father will not know who he is anymore or may not live past the year. We were never very close but it's still sad to see anyone go this way.  


  1. I am very sorry about your father. Like you said, seeing anyone go this way is hard. But, I'm happy you were able to get a rod in your hand, and first saltwater fish on the fly...and found some amount of peace. Thoughts are with you, Kevin...

  2. Man sorry to hear that your dad's not doing so well. Hopefully the fishing was able to help you relax a little and take some worries away. Nice Blue Gill of the Sea. Tight Lines and best wishes.

  3. Kev
    Sorry to hear about your Dad, I know where you are coming from. My Dad went the same way, memory going and gone. I hope and pray you and I never go that route. Glad you got some fishing in while you was there.

  4. That's a very tough part of life.
    You have my toughts.

  5. Thank you for the comments. The fishing was a nice diversion. The trip provided some closure for me as well. I'm glad I went.

  6. That's a sad deal, but I'm glad that you were able to get a solemn last visit in. Perhaps you'll still get another.

    I can only hope I'm afforded the opportunity to see my loved ones off.

    Neat to catch a fish in a totally unfamiliar environment too. Props.

  7. Sorry to hear about your dad. Best wishes.

  8. Thank you for the comments. It means a lot to me that anyone reads this blog.

  9. Nice post!But i am really sorry to know about your father.I like very much to fishing.Nice picture.Thanks for your comment.
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