“I left my fishing gear at home,” Ric confesses when we meet up with friends from home, who happen to be staying just up the road. “Thought we’d be wintering in Arizona.”
It’s his birthday coming up, so I suggest he gets new gear. We are surrounded by water here and the opportunities are endless.
A few days later, we head to the local harbour, meeting up with our friends and ignoring the overcast skies.
We aren’t even set up before the peanut gallery arrives: two Brown Pelicans and a Great Blue Heron. The pelicans shuffle up to where I’m seated and eye me expectantly.
“You do realize this is just a camera,” I warn them. They don’t budge.
Ric’s first catch – more of a snag really – produces a barnacled beer bottle, which elicits laughs all around.
Next he pulls up a blue crab. The birds are not impressed, but my lens is delighted. This is a first.
Another crab and then a series of small fish, shared out evenly with our patient audience. With the exception of one food fight – the recipient momentarily lost its grip on the fish – the birds are remarkably polite.
At some point the excitement escalates when a dolphin back emerges just before us. Two more fins appear further out, and soon we have a spontaneous demonstration of dolphin play before they swim away.
The sudden distraction emboldens one of the pelicans who shuffles to the edge of the concrete and launches just as Ric casts off, catching the bait and the hook in his massive mouth. Chuffed, he lands on the water and proudly swallows his prize. We are mortified. This pelican already bears one fishhook piercing.
“Apparently they don’t learn,” I pronounce.
The culprit returns with hook clearly dangling from his lip. I try to talk him into letting me take it out, but he sidles away. An offering of a small fish, and a quick trade off remedies the situation in the end, our friend becoming the hero of the day.
No longer able to contain the rain, the clouds let loose. Chilled by the cool breeze, we hurriedly pack up. The dolphins return and Ric and I linger to take a few more photographs.
It’s been an amazing outing. Ric has reignited his passion for fishing, and I have discovered whole new photo ops.
Thanks to our gracious hosts for showing us the way!
(All photos from personal collection. Featured image is a Common Loon. Hard to get this close to a loon back home.)