Being from a small, coastal town in Massachusetts, living more than five minutes from the ocean felt like a nightmare to me. But, as I travel across the country in a toy hauler, I have noticed that most states are landlocked. Twenty-seven to be exact. Obvious to most but something I was oblivious to.
That’s 126, 352, 125 million people that potentially may never see the ocean in their lifetime. Thirty-nine percent of the United States’ population. How did I figure that out, you’re probably wondering. I did the math because I was curious, and I read somewhere that people like statistics when they’re reading lengthy articles.
Why does this matter? Because I will be spending the next four years traveling within the oceans’ borders of the country with no ocean in sight, (something I never dreamed of doing), except on special occasions.
And Louisiana was one of these occasions.
Arriving at Pointe Aux Chene, I could smell the murky, salt marsh before I stepped out of the car. The temperature was up around the 80’s, humidity was in full force and I was so excited to feel the sun on my face and breathe in that beautiful salty air for a few days.
I probably said it a million times while we were paddling through the marsh, but it reminded me so much of home. Cape Cod is filled with marshy areas and inlets. Two different states, two different oceans (I don’t know if you’d consider the Gulf of Mexico an ocean but, you get the point), hundreds of miles between the two yet, I felt more at home here than I have in any other state.
For my birthday, my mom got me a sterling-silver bracelet that says “Salty Girl” on it to help me remember where I come from. Salt runs through my veins and coming back to it reminded me why I never wanted to leave in the first place. So obviously, I was more eager than ever to get my butt on the water.
Fishing for reds is different than any other type of fishing I’ve done. There’s two ways to do it; sight casting or just blindly casting and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, the water was murky and we weren’t able to sight cast, which is when you very quietly stand-up paddle through the marsh looking for tailing reds or loud splashes. They are very skittish fish and get spooked easily, therefore, fishing for them requires technique and stealth (both of which I don’t really have yet).
If you’re just blindly casting, like we were, casting towards the edge of the grass or little nooks and skinny canals in the marsh is your best bet.
Still, there were so many different occasions when I would kayak right over a red without seeing it and it would swirl in the mud less than a foot below me and shoot into the grass. Or, I would see it tailing, get excited and over cast or under cast, spooking the fish and just getting frustrated with myself in the process.
That’s the thing about fishing for reds. You have to be quiet but you’re so full of excitement and adrenaline, it’s hard to land your cast perfectly. At least for me, but even the most experienced fisherman have this problem as well.
The only way to get out into the marsh for us was to be towed by the skiff that our photographer (Brooks Beatty) and videographer (Jameson Redding) were using to film us during the day. We used straps to tie ourselves to one another and got a lot of looks while we were being pulled single file out to the fishing grounds.
Once we got there, we split up and I practiced using the power pole to hold me in place while standing and casting. On my fifth cast, I landed one of the first fish of the day. A feisty, beautiful, slot Red Fish that I yanked out of a weeded patch in front of me. Slot means it’s a keeper between 16 and 26 inches.
In my post about Kentucky, I had mentioned how rewarded I felt after persisting all day and finally catching that little largemouth. This feeling was pretty damn close to that. I have never fished for reds before and I was fishing with very experienced men. Being a woman in this industry, I find myself feeling pressured quite often to perform well and keep up with the guys. In this moment, landing a fish so early in the day before most everyone else, I felt exhilarated and really proud of myself.
I wake up every morning chasing that feeling. Whether that be writing a killer blog post that people can relate to, editing a really difficult portion of an episode, hitting a crazy PR in the gym or catching a new species or new personal best, I am excited to see what every day brings. Because it’s always something new and challenging with this lifestyle.
I don’t know what I did to deserve this amazing life of mine but I have such a great appreciation for every moment of the day. I try to live as presently as I can and this is advice I would give to anyone. Stay present, stay in the moment because things can change in the blink of an eye, when you least expect it.
It’s hard for me to preach my beliefs because many of you won’t understand. “It’s harder said than done” is something I hear often when people ask me how I made this choice to do what I do. After I tell them and urge them to follow their dreams too, that is the most common response I get.
And it’s true — but everything is easier said than done. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back as humans. Fear of commitment, fear of change, fear of failure, fear of being uncomfortable.
But let me tell you something, if you are fearful of chasing your true desires and changing your life to suit your happiness, you won’t ever grow. You will remain in the same unhappy relationship, the same dreaded 9 – 5 job, the same boring town, because it’s what you’re comfortable with. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to reshape your life.
This is just my opinion but at 23-years-old, to have left my small hometown and jumped on the road with a man I barely know (who has now become one of my greatest friends), all to pursue my dreams. I can tell you, it was damn worth it.