A man who I consider a friend recently disclosed to me that because of financial difficulties, he may lose his house.  With all this weight on his shoulders,  just having gas money to go fishing is a luxury.  Another buddy of mine, Tyler Brinks recently asked via twitter, “Has the rising cost of gas affected your fishing?”  Based on the people I meet on the boats, I’d have to say the answer is yes.

For me personally, the fishing wasn’t great this weekend.  I’ve often written that time on the water is it’s own reward.  When the fishing comes together, it’s just the extra spice on top of the day.  Now that I’ve gotten serious about fishing, it’s sometimes hard to maintain this perspective.  It’s easy to gripe about things that happen on the open party boats, but A) the OG salties probably think I’m a P.I.T.A. too, and B) I’m not far removed from not having this opportunity at all.

Let me explain…you may have noticed my little impromptu twitter contest over the long weekend…#mysterymeat  I asked people to guess what meat this was below.

Mystery solved! BBQ bat ray wing

Andrew Deal won the contest, and will receive one of the first Salty t-shirts when they come out soon.   My intention in putting it out there was twofold.  One, was the fact that I wanted to illustrate that you could make something really good from a throwback or throwaway catch…how most anglers would consider a bat ray.  The second was I wanted to call attention to the fact that many people are choosing to eat (thus buy) organic food, or free range chicken or whatever fancy (and more costly) food designation you want to throw out there.  Yet more than ever, most Americans are clueless as to where their food really comes from.  They just rely on a label.  I’ll elaborate more on the second point in an upcoming guest post on Raising Boys World.

To the first point though, let me tell you my story.  In November of 2008, I lost a really good paying job and had to take unemployment for the first time.  This wasn’t a proud time for me.  During this time, my wife decided she wanted to separate and I needed to find a new place to live.  With no money and no place to live, I was lucky enough to have my best friend let me use the apartment he keeps here in Los Angeles for when he’s here on business.  It’s a modest place, but the price was right (just pay utilities and cable/internet).  During this time, I rediscovered fishing, but it wasn’t the kind of sportboat fishing that I do now.  I was subsistence fishing from the Venice Pier with a cheapie extendable rod that I brought back when I had visited my parents in Seattle.  I became friends with a lot of the homeless guys that call Venice Beach their “home” and shared meals with them on more than one occasion (once was when Jake famously caught 31 fish from the pier, thus forever earning him the nickname, King of the Pier 😉 )  Once during this time, I was LUCKY enough to catch a bat ray from the pier, and the shark guys who dominate the far end of the pier helped me get him out of the water since I didn’t have a flying gaff to pull him up to the pier.  I gave them one wing as payment, and kept the other for myself.  That wing provided almost a week’s worth of food, and was an upgrade from eating a lot of fish that I would consider just bait today.

Fast forward to today…I have a great job again.  Between what I make and because of the work I do with this blog, I get to fish almost weekly, sometimes more than once.  I wanted to illustrate though that I haven’t gotten too “big” to eat bat ray.  I truly do appreciate the blessings coming my way, because I’ve paid for them by having to go through some tough times.  I wanted to share my story so you can consider that  just because it may have been a rough day on the water, there’s still much to be thankful for in just being out there.  I’ll always remember this fact, I hope you will too.  Tight lines!


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