For trophy rockfish (striped bass) season in the Chesapeake, my friend in Virginia's Northern Neck, Capt. Dave, organized a trip out of Ingram Bay for eight fishermen last Wednesday, May 11. Shortly after arriving at Capt. Dave's the evening before the fishing trip, I met Truman, one of the few I hadn't fished with previously, and based on his appearance I might have thought he was in a biker gang. However, I learned a long time ago that the old saying of not judging a book by the cover was true and, besides, Matt had brought him. I had fished a number of times with Capt. Dave's fishing buddy Matt and knew him to be about as solid a guy as I've ever known. Anyone who was ok with Matt was ok with me.
I soon learned that four years before Truman had a bad fall off a roof which caused a severe head injury which affected his memory and made necessary an internal shocking device to prevent seizures. What he could do physically and mentally was always a challenge for him since. After I heard the story of his accident and what he'd been up against since then, I couldn't help but pull for the guy. He had no self-pity and an innocence about him. The morning of the fishing trip, he and I walked together to the marina and he spoke of his excitement of this new experience of fishing salt water. He lived in Western Kentucky, and I don't think he had ever been on water as big as the Chesapeake Bay.
On the boat when we drew cards, Truman got an ace that give him the first shot when a fish hit. I wasn't optimistic about my chances because from my card I was to be last in the rotation, but I was feeling good about Truman's luck. During the hours before the cry of "fish on" went out, I strolled about the boat chatting with everyone as it was becoming increasingly likely to it shaping up as a slow day for trolling. Many of the other guys expressed the same thought that had gone through my mind- that it would be nice if Truman, at least, caught a fish.
When finally a fish hit, Truman struggled to reel it in, but he was able to land it. The rockfish was a big one, 47 1/2 inches. Everyone on the boat was grinning, and Truman was smiling and at the same time looked shocked. I don't think I remember any trip being so satisfying even though the fishing was poor.