September 8, 2023

Fish Tales

I hardly slept a wink or two the night before.

My bag was packed for a day on the water. My body was pumped full of Dramamine, just in case. And my brain was already swimming with erratic fears and drowning in excitement at the same time.

4:15am - alarm goes off (first erratic fear debunked)

“Good morning, boys,” I whisper-yelled to the horses.

They yawned, blinked, and looked at each other as if to say: Did you see her put anything in the horse trailer? If she’s up this early, it means we are going somewhere to work. Wait…are you sick? AM I SICK?! (The horses get their erratic fears honestly.)

After everyone was fed and well-caffeinated, I made the short drive to the boatyard. I talked to God a little on the way…thanking Him for the opportunity, thanking Him for the beauty in each day, asking for safety for our team, and mostly…that I not lose any fish and subsequently lose my job in the process. The tricky part about fishing with your bossman, when your bossman is a well-renowned fisherman/Captain/boat builder is this potential not-erratic-at-all concern.

The ride out was breathtaking. The sunrise looked like God had hand painted each color, just for us. The water was such a deep, dark shade of blue that it almost looked like velvet. 

Lines went in at 8:30am. I was overly impressed with the gals on our team who jumped right in rigging and…you know, doing all-the-things in preparation for the catching portion of our fishing adventure. I took more of a “wait to be told” approach, seeing as my trips offshore could be counted on one hand. Growing up in a fishing community with many fisherman relatives, one would assume that I would be relatively salty myself. One would assume wrong. 

Within minutes we heard, “ya think ya got something?” over our headsets.

“I think…there is something,” our badass galpal fisherwoman teammate reported.

Before we knew it, not only was there something but said badass galpal fisherwoman teammate had reeled in our first sailfish! Congratulatory cheering and high-fiving commenced! Up next, we landed a wahoo…more cheering, more high-fiving! The pride within our entire team was contagious. Regardless of who was reeling, each person was equally as proud as if they had been the one behind the line.

While I continued the ‘wait to be told’ approach, I heard my husband’s words of encouragement whispering in my head. Jump up there! I can’t wait to hear all about what you catch! You’re going to do great! 

The next line that made even the slightest nudge of having a fish on, I had decided I was going for. Almost seconds after making this decision it was time. I catapulted myself towards the back of the cockpit, grabbed the rod and waited for direction. However, most of the direction-tellers were busy directing our other galpal. How do I crank this thing? How do I even hold it? What if it pulls me overboard?! Shit. Maybe I should’ve watched a youtube on this. 

I began reeling and looked towards our fearless leader, who I hoped wasn’t mimicking an off with her head motion in my direction. Thankfully he simply motioned as to where to hold the rod & how to hold my hands for better…mobility? Fishability? Success? Not sure but at that moment, I would’ve stood on one leg and recited show tunes if it would’ve helped coax that damn fish into the boat.

“If you’re good to the fish, he’ll be good to you!” one of our mates advised.

I waited a minute. Puzzled but still reeling as if my life depended on it. 

“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!!? I want to kill him and eat him. I’m not going to be good to him!”

“Just keep reeling,” he responded, somewhat disgusted with my response.

Finally, after what seemed like hours (reel/real time? 4 minutes) the biggest tuna I had ever caught was in the boat & my little jello arms had completed their mission! As the day progressed, we continued to have the best time. But nothing topped the 4 minute epic tuna battle of 2023 in my book!

As we headed in, I was instructed that I would need to take the tuna and wahoo up to the scales to be weighed. I was so excited about catching the tuna that I’d completely forgotten we were actually in a tournament competing against other boats!

Upon docking, we all piled into my truck and headed to the scales. I toted my tuna to the scales like a proud mama. We weighed our fish, took photos, and compared notes on how much longer we thought we would be awake for.

“Hey…right now, you have the winning tuna,” the leaderboard keeper told us.


The adrenaline returned from earlier in the morning, but it was joined with pure exhaustion.

“That’s awesome, baby!” said the absolute proudest husband of all time, upon hearing the news.

“I’m so excited out of 160 some boats, too! Okay, I need to hose off the horses. It’s been hot today. I’m sure someone will call or something if I win!”

Several hours went by and I was quite literally being rocked to sleep by the memory of ocean waves when my phone dinged…then immediately rang.

“OH MY GOSH, EDEEEEN!! YOU WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“What? Wait…WHAT!?!!?”

The ding was a photo of our badass galpal fisherwoman teammate accepting the award on my behalf for the largest tuna. The phone call (and subsequent squealing) was my fishing partner/biggest supporter/bestie calling to congratulate me/us on my/our win. 

“I can’t believe I won!! I’ve never fished something like that and I won!?!? And…my tuna- was only 14.6lbs!”

You read that absolutely correct. My winning tuna, the largest tuna I’ve ever caught in my whole 38 years of life…was 14.6lbs. But it won! Of all the lessons I learned during the 34th Annual Alice Kelly Fishing Tournament, one of the biggest lessons was in fishing tales. (It’s all in the wording, folks!)

Congrats to all the awesome ladies who fished!!

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