First Fish (Again)

sword blog main 2

sword blog main 2

Few things in life make a lasting impression on us like the first truly memorable fish we caught. That can be the very first fish ever, or the first of a highly sought-after species. For instance, I remember all of the minute details of catching my first tarpon like it was yesterday, and I caught it over 40 years ago. I can’t tell you what I had for dinner night before last, but I remember that tarpon vividly.

This past weekend, SWS Publisher Dave Morel (on left in photo) caught his first swordfish here in Islamorada, while fishing with Capt. Geoff Campbell (on the right), a young up-and-coming charter skipper. I blogged previously about the first sailfish Morel caught on a fly rod, and now he's added a swordfish to his list (on conventional tackle).

Morel was fishing with a couple of clients of ours, Jason Boertje and Steve Bates of Hydra-Sports Boats (who caught a few firsts of their own; see photo gallery), but it was Morel's turn on the rod when the big swordfish bit. They had already pulled the hook on another sword earlier in the day. After a one hour, 15-minute fight, Campbell and Morel gaffed the big fish and Morel had his first swordfish. He's still grinning, and I'll wager that decades from today, he'll be retelling the account of its capture to anyone who will listen to him. That's the way these things go, and one of the prime reasons we do what we do.

In addition to the aforementioned tarpon, I recall my first sailfish, permit, bonefish, blue marlin and swordfish with equal clarity. I’ve added many other species to my list over the years, but many of the first ones have faded from memory, perhaps because I caught the first when I was too young to remember much of anything, or perhaps because catching them was anticlimactic. But some are burned into my mind permanently. When I reach my dotage (which seems to approach faster all the time), I will likely regale anyone who will listen to me with tales of fish caught long before most of them were born.

The only thing better than catching a new species yourself for the first time, is helping someone else do the same. I have pictures on the wall of my home of the first permit caught by my father, the first sailfish, blue marlin and wahoo caught by my son, the first tarpon, snook and bonefish caught by my youngest daughter, and the first tuna caught by my eldest daughter. A shot of the first wahoo my wife ever caught hangs over my desk as I write this.

I also have photos of first fish caught by a number of friends, and memories of even more. And the firsts continue to pile up, as they should.

John Brownlee