One of my fondest teenage remembrances is the first days of freedom that were spawned from getting my driver’s license and the doors that it opened — the entire world was in my reach! Even better, I wouldn’t have to bum rides off my mom and dad to get to the fishing hole that was just a little too far to walk to. Certainly, I could really expand my horizons now and make the hour-and-a-half run down to Point Pleasant on the Jersey shore, a full bucket of killies and bags of frozen bunker in the front seat, hellbent on heading out for a fluke or bluefishing adventure on a party boat.
Party boats are for the Everyman. People from all walks of life patronize these vessels, and there is no discrimination of age, race, sex or talent; it’s a communal affair with a melting pot of colorful characters, from first-timers to seasoned pros. Trips on party boats will surely burn some wild memories in your mind — like the time Lido bit off a frozen mackerel’s head and swallowed it for a $5 bet, the time Joey got so deathly seasick we had to fireman’s-carry him off the boat, or when Seany caught the pool-winning cod and we blew all $250 on happy hour and Broadway wings for the entire bar to keep the party going all night long. Good times!
A few weeks ago, I wanted to introduce my girlfriend, Sara, to bottomfishing, and we hopped on the Miss Cape Canaveral out of Florida’s Cape Canaveral. The day was filled with friendly banter among anglers, great galley food, and catches of flounder, cobia, snapper, sea bass and some grouper, and Sara reeled in fish after fish until her arms couldn’t raise another beer. The look on her face was priceless as she boated the largest flounder on the boat at 8.5 pounds, enough to give her bragging rights the whole ride home - and she made sure I didn’t forget that fact. A true fisherman!
What does this all mean? Sure, given the choice, I’d rather the autonomy of fishing on my own boat or the comfort of a nicely refined sport-fisher, but every now and then, its good to get back to the basics, have some great laughs and keep the party going.