Family Tradition

Sportfishing Digest — September 2004
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca

Family Tradition
Fatherhood reminds a third-generation angler what fishing is really about.

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Family Tradition
• Part 2: Family Tradition

 Related Resources
• Sportfishing Digest Index

For me angling is about running far, going deep, fishing hard, and catching big. And when my son Kevin was born last year, I had grand visions of someday taking him to the canyons and turning him into a big-game madman. But the more I thought about it, the more I was reminded of how I got my start fishing, and the vision changed.

When I was young my grandpa would say, “Let’s go,” and my older brother Chip and I would sprint across the sand-covered lawn of grandpa’s lagoon-front South Jersey home with the speed of cheetahs. We’d jump into the unlocked blue Volare station wagon, which smelled as salty as that lagoon tasted, and fight for our favorite side. Quietly—the way my grandpa always spoke—he’d ask us to settle down.

But every time he started the car, I’d get uncontrollably giddy. He’d look back and, underneath the thinning gray hair and rough stubble that outlined his lean countenance, give me a kid-like smile back. He knew I couldn’t help myself. I was supercharged, and he didn’t mind. These car trips always meant we were heading to pick up bait, and that meant fishing. And to quote a line from an online fishing forum I once visited, as far as I was concerned, fishing wasn’t a matter of life or death, it was much more important than that.

The car slowly rolled over the crunching slate-blue, gravel-covered street as we made our way to Radio Road, a stretch of highway with an apparently infinite string of powerlines. During the mid-1970’s this area wasn’t developed, and getting our precious bait required going “an axe handle down the road,” as my grandma put it. This meant we were in for a long ride, and although it was actually only about 20 minutes each way, when you’re five years old, it might as well have been a day.

I could feel my anxiety build as my grandpa would say, “I’m stopping at the WaWa (a local convenience store). Do you want something?” I’d incessantly repeat “WaWa, WaWa, WaWa” as if I was the one hard of hearing. He’d slowly stop the car and then get out to get his coffee, slyly adding, “I guess that means no?” Of course that was our cue to jump out and get a Tastykake cupcake and a container of milk. It was his treat—after all, my allowance was about a quarter a week.

After WaWa, we’d drive by what seemed like a few thousand more powerlines to the bait store. Once there, I’d look into the freezer at the silver-sided fish and yell out “Spearing! Spearing! Spearing!” with even more emphasis and repetition than “WaWa,” before the store’s owner could get to the counter. Grandpa would say, “I guess we’ll take the spearing.” The owner would always hand it to me because he either figured it was the only way to shut me up and get me out, or he appreciated my enthusiasm for playing with frozen bait. I’d like to think it was his reciprocal affection for dead frozen fish.

Next page > Part 2: The three of us would sit there, occasionally looking at each other, but mostly just looking out to the water. > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the August 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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