May is always a great month in our bays. The weather becomes more consistent and so does the catching. Lately I have noticed the water coming alive with rafts of finger mullet, menhaden, and glass minnows. We have also been seeing large batches of shrimp migrating through open bay waters. Witnessing all that our bays have to offer, I cannot help but reminisce about my younger years.
I am often asked how I got into fishing and many are surprised to hear that it was my mother who started this addiction of mine. You see, she has it too. My mother started fishing when she was a young girl and was instantly hooked. Becoming an adult and mother she considered fishing to be therapy.
After having and raising five children, mostly alone, my mother took all of us on every fishing excursion she went on. Many days and nights were spent along Calhoun County shorelines. As patient and loving as she was, she was adamant that I learned to fish without much assistance from her. Instructing me on all the important facets of fishing, I was expected to fend for myself, and I was fine with that.
Bait was not always easy to come by, so we often fished with lures. My favorite, and what I remember using most often, was a Speck Rig. It was not uncommon to reel in two trout at a time. I was also known to throw quite the tantrum when I lost a big fish. Come to think of it, I still do.
If we weren’t fishing we were crabbing and exploring. After every outing my mother would clean our catch. Many nights she would spend hours cleaning everything we caught. Feeding five children, I assure you nothing went to waste.
I can also lovingly credit my mother for my love of horses. In her free time, if we weren't fishing we were riding horses. Horses taught me all sorts of discipline and my mother knew that. I used to think that it was me who was schooling and training the horses but, in reality, it was more the horses teaching me. I am still the owner of two horses. And while I don't ride as often as I used to, there is something about a horse that is pure therapy for me.
My mother also taught me to be a good cook. I remember a shrimper friend caught a six-foot gar in his net. Not wanting it to go to waste, he called to see if she might want it and, with five kids, she didn’t hesitate. She skinned the monster and removed the backstraps. I was totally fascinated. You have to remember, in the 70s, there was no Google to show you how to clean an alligator gar. Always one to accept a challenge though, mom rolled up her sleeves and went to work. The crouquets she fried up were absolutely yummy.
I know that I’ve made my mother sound like one big tomboy, and she can be. But she is also a beautifully feminine woman. When the occasion would call for it she would get all gussied-up and was almost always known as the most beautiful woman in the room. She also has a mean green thumb, is an amazing artist, and quite the painter.
By now you’re likely wondering why I dedicated this article to my mother. Well, her birthday is May 10 and we also celebrate Mother’s Day this month. As I get older I am in complete awe of my mother and all that she has accomplished in her life, with little or no help from anyone but herself. I never realized growing up how much of herself she gave up to become the most loving and responsible parent she was and still is. Watching her fight breast cancer that has now turned metastatic has reminded me what a true warrior she still is.
Mom, when you read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for loving me, even when I made it difficult. Thank you for believing in me, even when I doubted myself. Thank you for being the best role model a girl could ask for. Most of all, thank you for being my everything. I treasure every moment that I have had with you in the past, love the present, and look forward to our future. If it wasn’t for your love, determination and strength, I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today.
Happy Mother’s Day!