fishing

Spanish Mackeral caught on the North Carolina coast, but that wasn't the biggest catch of the day.

Tired all the time? Having trouble getting going in the morning? Are your lips and back peeling like a fake leather couch?

Yes, you too may have the dreaded Post-Beach Trip Blues. The only cure is time. Well, more salt and sand might work too, but then how would you pay your bills?

We headed to Emerald Isle, N.C. last week where our family has had a beach place for decades. We were fortunate to have somewhere to go.

Two of our favorite beach destinations were hit by hurricanes last fall. 

First, on Sept. 14, Hurricane Florence struck the North Carolina coast where my parents have places on the Bogue Banks. Mom’s condo in Pine Knoll Shores seemed OK until they found that sideways rain had gotten into the walls. They had to remove all belongings. By that time, all the storage facilities were already full so mom had to move everything to a storage unit 90 miles away, in Greenville, N.C., and repairs are expected to continue into the fall.

Fifteen miles away at Emerald Isle, N.C. my dad’s home had a few cedar shingles missing but was otherwise in good shape.

Then on Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael struck the area around our other beach destination, Cape San Blas, on the Gulf Coast in Florida. Trying to rent a place on VRBO was almost impossible because it was hard to tell what was available, and what was under repair. Then we heard there was only one gas station still operating on Cape San Blas and it was run from a temporary trailer. Nearby Mexico Beach is reported to still be in tatters, and the re-building work has hardly begun.

So we headed to Emerald Isle last week, a 9-hour drive. My dad’s home overlooks the inlet where the ocean meets the sound. The sunset views are fantastic. But the walk to the water is harrowing, about 250 yards of sand. We’re not complaining though.

About 15 years ago, you could fish off my dad’s deck. The ocean moved closer and closer to the home every year. Finally my dad had to buy huge sand bags to try to save the home. 

“That,” I thought, “will never work.”

Miraculously though, the ocean at last began to recede. A friend told me that a dredging project had dumped millions of tons of sand on the beach, and that storms then deposited that sand in front of my dad’s house. 

Whatever happened, however it happened, we’re just glad our house isn’t under water, even if the walk is daunting.

The North Carolina coast is well known for good fishing, and we hired a charter to help us find them.

We played Wack-A-Mole with a school of Spanish Mackeral, chasing them and the seagulls that hunted them all over the inlet just off Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach, N.C. We wound up with enough for a delicious fish fry.

Then we took a trip up to the Neuse River for trout and drum that was less successful.

But our biggest catch of the day was yet to come.

We were motoring back toward the inlet when I laid down on the bow to take a rest as the boat bobbed up and down in the surf. Then I felt something fall out of my pocket.

“Will!” a friend yelled. “Your wallet!”

It had slid down the boat’s rail and then plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean. Our guide circled back but I was doubtful. I got tired of things falling out of my wallet so a few years ago bought a giant man purse, a murse, with a zipper. Surely that would sink like a fat grouper.

My buddy pointed to where he thought it might have dropped and sure enough, there it floated amidst the jelly fish. I scooped it up as we passed.

“In all my years taking people fishing,” our guide laughed, “I’ve never seen that.”

As we headed back to the marina, I had only one question for him: “Will you take a damp check?”