06 Sep 2011

Fishing on Nantucket

Fishing on Nantucket

In his newest hit single, “Just Fishin” Trace Adkins tugs on every daddy’s heart as he reminds us that spending time on the shoreline with our kids, a line in the water, is about more than just catching a fish. These precious moments, when we have time alone with our kids to talk about their lives, their struggles and their dreams are fleeting and few. The photo above was taken on the sand in Brant Point when our only daughter Ashlie was 11 years old. She had just traded her pink rod and reel in for a “big girl” surf-casting rod and her dad was attempting to instruct her in the fine art of casting. Her 3 big brothers each had taken their turn over the years being “fishin buddies” with dad. Until this photo was taken, Ashlie had been content to splash in the surf or experiment with the little pink rod and reel. Now it was her turn to join the ranks of the family fishing aficionado’s.

She was a quick study and soon garnered respect among the testosterone wielding members of the family, both for her casting technique and accuracy, as well as her unflinching ability to manhandle even the slimiest bait. 8 years later, she continues to amaze her dad with her powerful cast, quick release and unflappable patience as she awaits a bite from the big one.

Nantucket has provided endless opportunities for numerous such dad/daughter moments. The 2 of them have spent many a night on the shoreline knee deep in the water casting and reeling or beachside in their chairs with a line in the water.  They chat about the world economy and her favorite new lip gloss as they keep their eyes alert for a tug on the pole. Each of them has recounted to me the meaningful conversations, beautiful sunsets and sometimes hilarious events of these fishing dates. One night, while in Madequesham at sunset with a few additional fishing buddies, my husband had a live one on the line. Ashlie and the others cheered him on as he reeled in dinner. As the catch landed on shore they discovered it was a large pair of women’s blue underwear. The small crowd howled with laughter and my husband humbly tossed his catch back in. An hour later he caught the exact same “fish” again! My daughter loves this story. A year later he redeemed himself when he caught a small sand shark in the same spot on an equally beautiful Nantucket night. Fish or not, these memories are in the hearts and scrapbooks of both dad and daughter.

This past week Ashlie and her dad left rods and reels behind and headed south on a “road trip” to North Carolina where she’s entering her second year of college at Elon. It’s a bit surreal to think how fast time has gone, how quickly she graduated from the little pink rod and reel to the “big girl” surfcasting rod and now to college life with less and less time for these coveted one on one moments with dad or mom. The two of them made the most of their 3-day dad/daughter trip, squeezed into her little VW bug surrounded by all things college girl. They made new memories at road-side café’s and outlet malls and together decorated her new apartment. The nest is empty once again, but plans are underway for the next trip home for each of our kids. Memory making is the top priority and it won’t be about “just fishin.”

Whether you’re a Nantucket resident or a first time visitor, be sure to purchase or rent a couple surfcasting rods or maybe a little pink or blue rod and reel and try your hand at fishing on Nantucket. At the top of your itinerary write the words “time alone with my son or daughter.” Savor these precious moments while you can, make some Nantucket memories and hug your fishin buddy as the sun sets.

Go fish.

Shellie Dunlap


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