This is an older essay I wrote... some of you may have read this from other places... but I'm gonna put it here anyway... hope you enjoy...
THOUGHTS ON TAILERS
BY: MIKE BENSON
The cool wet air of a South Carolina August morning filled my lungs as I walked down the dock towards the boat. Nothing makes me feel more alive than the anticipation before a days fishing, no matter where that may be or what I may be chasing. This particular morning I found myself in search of tailing redfish just outside of Beaufort, coffee in hand, watching the horizon illuminate against an impending sun.
Myself and three friends, Bridger, the eloquent southern gentleman, Jon, the reluctant family man, and Chad, the hopelessly addicted lawyer, were embarking in a two day jaunt through the flats. The moon and stars had literally aligned to bring us the first major early morning tides of the year, and just to sweeten the deal, evening tides as well. This meant that in two days we had the opportunity to fish four separate tides. A rare thing, and we intended to make full use of such a gift from the gods. The boat rocked and rolled only slightly against the wakes and currents of the river, my mind, normally scattered across a thousand different subjects, was settled on one thing and one thing only. The task at hand.
This year has been a tough one for me, and perhaps for many people out there. The economy is failing, bills piling up, wars continuing to be waged in places most of us couldn’t find on a map, and people dropping along the wayside like leaves from a mighty oak in the fall. I find myself so completely wrapped up within the problems and trials of my daily life that sometimes I fail to see the true beauty of my existence, that I truly am one of the blessed people who gets to do what I love. This morning I’m not thinking of my rent, or the power bill that’s due. I’m not dwelling on the fact that my truck is probably going to lock up if I don’t change the oil soon. I’m solely and completely focused on what has to be done. On what I love to do.
As the boat slices through the glasslike surface of the water, I can help but catch a glimpse of my own reflection. The man staring back is a far cry from the boy that left the mountains a mere 5 years ago. My life has taken me places and shown me things that perhaps I never envisioned myself experiencing, and I regret nothing. The man looking back looks rough, beaten, tired, and exalted all at the same time, like a man who has worked all day seeing his kids running out the door to meet him. Only I don’t have any kids, nor do I have plans for any. My joys in life are much more selfish, they are mine, and mine alone.
I see the marshland blasting past us at 30 mph, egrets, herons, birds of all shapes and sizes flocking in the marsh to feed on shrimps, crabs, and minnows that are being whisked into the grass with the incoming tide. The palmetto trees, pines, and cypress are all mangled into masses of foliage alienated from the mainland by expanses of spartina, creating the perfect habitat for both crabs, and hungry reds. Its just such a place that we initially approach, and within minutes Jon has spotted a tail, and the hunt is on.
On the rare occasions where we find the fish on the flats really working had, you don’t have time to think. It’s simply one fish after another, casting angles, fly changes, checking knots, concentrating on your movements through the grass, and the thousand other variables that go along with stalking a wild creature on foot in his home environment. For those few precious moments, you are suspended in time, life outside of your small swatch of spartina grass ceases to exist, and you can truly let go of everything, if only for a second, you can be free again. Remember what that felt like?