The Young Ones
by Monte Richardson
On a dock somewhere, the coastal silence and beachy sounds are disrupted by the drone of idling diesels and wet exhausts. The sportfishing boats arrive from all angles along the Intercoastal. Day light comes to the marina, which begins to bustle with the sounds of booming music and the pounding of feet making lines fast along the pilings and cleats. A major billfishing tournament has come to town.
In the days prior, the air thickens with bravado and Hemingway-esque posturing of mates, anglers and captains alike. Red solo cups abound, filled with a rummy nectar, bimini twists are tied and re-tied, drags are pinpointed to perfection, and the kitty of lures and baits are revised with precision. Pineapples and bananas abound in fishing witchcraft activity. It is in these moments when most think only of grown men and women, of professional skills or of all the deep pockets aiming for the chance at glory. What goes mostly unnoticed is within eyesight, yet generally below shoulder height – the kids.
Some children were born to the boat, their parents tied to the sometimes fickle industry. These kids are recognized by their bare feet. They are wet all summer from scrubbing the decks and polishing the aluminum, stinky from handling the bait, and their t-shirts bloodied beyond repair from the melee of fish cleaning duty.
Others have grown into the sport with beginnings as a boat rider, cocktail maker and lure watcher. Eventually they graduate to having a rod handed to them. It is then that they first feel the strain of a big fish and feel its power in the deep bend of a rod. From recipient of handed rod, they reach the pinnacle, where they handle it all on their own. It is then that the young rodsman is prepared, with free spool drag, to pitch in the open mouth of a hot, neon colored billfish. That moment surpasses all others, the minute time frame in which performance and nerves meld into the victory of a screaming reel, or fizzle into a backlash, replete with a sancochoed bait head. It is with repetition and time in the cockpit where these skills are built and crescendo to the point where one can say “It’s so easy a kid could do it.”
The real fact of the matter is that some kids have the gusto to put the screws to even the most stoic of adult anglers. Just take a look at the annals of billfishing and you will see young anglers dust the pages of the IGFA record books, TBF award programs and the like. Quite a humbling feat for even the most desiring of grown rod handlers. In mentioning these feats, some young folks are stand outs in a community of competitive angling that spans all ages.
One of them is Gregory Benn from Alexandria, Virginia. Gregory found the inspiring call to angling through his father Richard, who is a notable angler himself. Over the years Richard has owned a stable of fine Spencer fishing boats, the latest version being F/V Wound Up which operates out of Ocean City, Maryland. Gregory first accomplished an IGFA legal catch with an Atlantic sailfish at the age of five…………………… Click Here to continue reading this article.
A photo gallery of the Davis family courtesy of Jessica Haydahl