Journal Entry From Capt. Peace Marval

Unlike many fisherman with whom I have spoken, I do not remember my first fish. I have no recollection of an excited moment when I first discovered my reverie. However, I do not feel cheated for lack of childhood memory nor do I feel excluded when conversations of such matters arise. Instead, I am blessed with a sense that the fish and I have always been one. That my love for these strange and wonderful creatures had no beginning it simply was, is, and always will be.

Besides, in fishing as in life there are many firsts and I am not short of stories in either. I remember distinctly my first time to cross into the Gulf Stream. I was ten years old and the designated low man on a boat belonging to my older brother. I'd heard him tell of great schools of tuna, Dorado the color of candy, Marlin that walked across the surface on their tails, and the Cobalt River that banked the green gulf waters.

The night before, I did not sleep for dreaming of the wonderful fishes we would catch. Two hours from the marina, 21 miles off the mouth of the Great Mississippi River, I got my first glimpse. On the crest of distant waves a golden chain of sargassum drew a line across the sea like the hedgerow of a palace. As we neared, the color change became distinct and I remember to this day my wonder at the crossing. Flying fish leaped at our arrival gliding away like silent silver planes. Small Dorado swarming beneath the honey colored grass darted to the boat and circled around as if begging for a hand out.

My brother stopped the boat and we drifted in the blue for several minutes while he rigged the baits. I leaned over and ran my hand through the water. It was warm and felt somehow comforting. I scooped some up then let it drip from my fingers, watching intently as the droplets rejoined the stream, feeling as though I too could simply slip into the water and become one with something Greater.

My silent contemplation was broken when my brother began to yell, "Tuna! Tuna! Big school of tuna!" and started barking orders at me on how to get the lines out. I looked up and great fish were throwing themselves out of the water less than 200yds ahead of us. By the time we got the lines back though, they had disappeared. We made a few passes anyway but didn't hook up so we turned back to the rip and followed along the grass.

Through the course of the day we saw several more schools of tuna but each time we neared they sounded and were gone. I'd love to say that we finally caught one but that's just not the truth. We were blanked. Shortly before dark we arrived at the dock with not a fish in the boat. At the hotel restaurant, when the other fisherman asked my brother what we'd caught that day he'd laugh and say, "We caught a good sunburn and a thick layer of salt!"

When people asked me I'd repeat his words although I knew that, for myself, they were not entirely true. I had caught something or something had caught me. Ever since that day the Gulf Stream has felt like home and I have never ceased to wonder at it's magic.

Many tuna have graced my boat since then. In fact, I now make my living catching them or rather taking people to catch them and other great fishes of the Gulf Stream. I have had the joy of bringing many people to the blue water for their first time. Often I have seen upon my clients' faces a familiar look of wonder as we slide across the rip. I have watched people of all ages reach into the stream like children, amazed by its color and clarity, amazed by the precision with which it cuts the green gulf waters.

Each time I see someone silently lean over the gunwale and run their hand through the water, eyes fixed upon its' mesmerizing hue, I am reminded of that fateful day on my brothers boat. I am reminded of how blessed I am to be doing what I do. I always stop and drift for a moment, take my time rigging the baits, and keep a sharp eye out for tuna.

God bless, good fish! Capt. Peace REEL PEACE CHARTERS 504-534-2278

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