Before any of my family members reading get grossed out, as I understand it “my first boner” is the phrase used when hooking into your first bonefish. Thanks to my new willing wife, I was able to do just that during our recent honeymoon in Mexico.
Despite the general American perception of Mexico being a total war zone I convinced Heather to venture off the manicured landscape of our 5-star resort for a day of guided flat fishing. In doing so I was responsible for setting up all transportation to meet our guide for the day. This would include a cab ride from resort, to a ferry, followed by one last cab ride to our destination.
The moment we left the resort I could sense Heather’s fear. She was convinced she would be kidnapped and forced into human slave trafficking. I, on the other hand, was totally fine. The first cab was clean, professional, and in uniform. The ferry was one of the nicest ferrys I had ever traveled on. Alex, our guide was waiting for us at the end of the pier; he led us to a cab, said something to the driver in Spanish and told us he would meet us at our destination. Still on our own and now traveling in an area that had much less of the tourist feel we had seen earlier that morning, I also began to sweat a little. Once we turned onto a dirt road, I officially became worried. We slowly bounced down this dirt road for what felt like forever, jungle towered over the cab on each side. Random roadside trash was the only other sign of previous travelers. However, relief finally came over me when I saw water on the horizon.
We met Alex along the shoreline at his tied up Panga – the Mexican version of a skiff. As we were loading up, another random guy approached us. He and Alex said something in Spanish and then both began to yell at one another. Standing just feet away from two strange men with your wife as they scream at one another in a language you don’t understand is a very uncomfortable situation. The guy we don’t know breaks from Spanish, looks at Heather and says, “Listen to me.” Alex jumps and yells, “NO! Don’t listen. He is not a fisherman!” They again exchange words and then Alex continues to load the boat. Heather and I look at the other guy waiting to hear what he has to say. I expected for him to tell us it was not safe, and that Alex is going to take us out to the ocean and kill us both. The man looks at Heather and me. “I can take you to Pleasure Island cheaper!” Okay. Now the argument becomes a little less foreign. Had I not just gotten married, a trip to Pleasure Island would be damn tempting. Instead, Heather and I stare at the guy blankly and he walks away. Alex chuckles. “Dis guy crazy. We go fishing.” Fifteen minutes into fishing and I had hooked my first bonefish – baby bonefish to be correct. The fish ran so fast and pulled with so much strength I feared I would lose the rod halfway through the fight. Thankfully I managed to hold and catch eight bonefish from the crystal clear water throughout the day. While I spent the day rod bent, wading the flats, Heather sat in the Panga reading her book and soaking in way too much sun. She was a trooper, further reassuring me that the “I Do” I had proclaimed just a few days earlier was the right answer.
Looking back at how young we were when our dating started is mind blowing. I was 16 and just starting to seriously get into fly fishing and fly tying. Heather accepted my weird hobby and we continued to date. We were your typical young couple. Stupid in love and everyone and their mother prodding us to break from one another and experiment. We did the opposite. I stopped playing hockey after high school, Heather stopped playing basketball and we both stayed home for college together. Fast forward to last week when our wedding day finalllllly arrived we had been together for 12 years straight, not a day’s break, and no other girls for this guy (pathetic I know).
Such a long time coming, the big day had my nerves racked for weeks leading up to it. Everyone had advice: “It’s fun” and, “Enjoy the day.” Even author and guide Ed Engle offered me some valuable advice about enjoying the moment. Upon our wedding day everything was going as planned. Surprisingly, all my groomsmen showed up sober and were taking our preparation fairly serious. Unfortunately, I guess it is fate that all wedding day celebrations encounter some sort of conflict. Mine came in the form of myself and my bride’s father screaming at one another; reminiscent of Alex and random Mexican guy. It was literally all over watching television while we got our tuxes on. I was furious for the next hour. All I could think about was her father, whom I historically have not gotten along with. I wanted to knock his teeth out and despite everyone telling me to calm down I couldn’t.
Few more shots of Bulleit whiskey and it was go time. While standing at the alter I was so nervous that I began having trouble breathing and couldn’t feel my legs. All I could hear was my brother Chow. “Dude breath, breath.” I motioned to my best man Nick to employ the secret weapon: smelling salts. I breathed deep, my knees straightened and the lightheaded feeling left me. Moments later it happened. Music filled the room and Heather, accompanied by her father, began the walk toward me. Upon laying eyes on Heather it was like we were the only two people in the crowded room. Her father no longer existed despite the two of them walking with arms locked down the aisle. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the country pursuing my passion of catching fish on a fly rod, met a hex hatch with my very first bamboo rod, caught native brookies in Maine over 18 inches, witnessed thousands of amazing moments in my 28 years. Seeing Heather that day was the happiest moment of my life. I honestly didn’t think the mental euporia I felt at that moment could be felt without being on some kind of drugs. But it did, and I will never forget it.
Having not mentioned Heather much in the blog, I’d at least like to thank her. For putting up with my tackle collecting, my fly tying with feathers everywhere, my rod making, the money I have spent making rods and flies, and most importantly allowing me to turn every vacation into part fishing trip. I have a great one… and I’m never throwing her back. Just kidding with that last cliché, was getting a little soft there.
Now that this wedding horse shit is over it’s rod making time baby! I’ll be in the shop this weekend getting back on track. Next week check the blog for an interview with author of Splitting Cane Ed Engle.