Some of the best memories I have of being a kid took place on a boat.

We always had boats growing up. Big boats, small boats, dinghies, inflatables… at one point I even remember a little Sunfish sailboat in my life. As a kid, you don’t realize you are making memories when you’re making them. It’s only now that I have kids of my own that I truly realize the quality time we spent on the water.

Truthfully, it wasn’t always quality, my dad yelled at us if we dropped things or jumped around like kids like to do. God forbid if you put a ding in the gelcoat… but those moments were less frequent than the smiles and laughter. However, we sometimes remember the bad more than we remember the good. But I’ve turned that script, and I often think back on the family trips we took on the boat. The entire family tucked into a 40-foot convertible. My sister and I sharing a stateroom, giggling into the night and creating games that we could play as she dangled her hand from the top bunk. The sound of water lapping the hull as we drifted off to sleep, often waking up to a new spot and a new adventure. Clamming, fishing, rowing the dinghy around… These things give you incredible freedom as a 10-year-old. I would walk a tidal flat for hours with nothing more than a bucket and a rake. Sometimes I’d come home with a full load of cherry stones. Sometimes I’d get stuck and have to figure a way out of the silty mud. Problem solving at its best.

My father has a very strong love of boats. He can just stare at a vessel for long periods of time, admiring the curves, the metalwork, the bright finish. But he doesn’t get out as much as he used to, and I had been giving him crap about not using his skiff. It sat next to his house for longer than a year. He’d wax it. He’d start the engine, but it was a lot of effort for him to get it to the ramp and launch it on his own. Something that he used to do effortlessly had become work. He tried to sell the boat at one point, but didn’t find a buyer. It continued to sit. I continued to bug him about it.

“Let’s take the kids out on the boat,” I’d say.

“We’ll see. I have some things I need to do to the trailer first.”


There was always something to do. A reason we couldn’t use it. This was broken, or that needed to be checked. That’s how it is with boats, if you leave things unchecked for too long, they’ll fail on you and potentially leave you stranded. After a while, I stopped asking. I could see it was making him a bit angry if I pried too hard. Then he offered me the boat all together. Told me to take it. I thought about it, but declined at first. I was afraid it would become a sore spot between us. I figured he wouldn’t be happy with how I took care of the boat. I knew I would never wax it as much as he would. (I have seen this man wax the windshield of his car.)

But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. It’s an 18-foot flats boat, and perfect for me and my family. I told him I’d take the boat, but again, he had a list of things to do to it first. This needs cleaning, that needs fixing… I thought he’d back out. And then a phone call (which I don’t often get from Dad)… “I bought a new boat. It’s smaller. Much easier to handle. I need you to come get the flats boat.”

All the worries I had about potential arguments or disagreements came flooding back, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. We talk more now than we have in a while. I had to have a bunch of engine work done to the boat and I think he’s very happy to know that it’s running strong and still has a lot of life left in the tank. This past weekend, we took our first family outing on the boat and it was fun. My wife liked it and Cooper, our youngest, went from being scared and holding his ears to having fun over the course of the day. We’ll have many more adventures on this rig and hopefully, some day down the road, my boys will hitch it up to their truck and put a few more hours on her.

The signs that our country is plundering through uncertain times is plastered all over the media (whether you call it “fake” or not). You can’t walk through a store, restaurant or train station without overhearing thick threads of heated political banter. There’s no escaping it. And now, the gods are raining down their fury and doing their best to send us a message…

Jimmy Kimmel said the lightening was probably the work of John McCain, which I hope is true. The old Maverick is slinging arrows from the heavens.

The latest weather event at the White House is not a new, nearly Biblical act of nature to occur at the White House this year. Back in May, scientists discovered the beginnings of sink hole on the lawn.

What’s next? Locusts? A healthy flood of raining frogs? How many signs do we need? These are very uncertain times, and frightful.

The chapter entitled “The Toilet Paper King’s Mighty Sword,” is probably the one I receive the most comments about. It is the longest chapter of the book. In this chapter, Parker finds himself locked to the largest fish of his career, an estimated 800-pound swordfish. As he fights the fish, the seas pick up. The drama builds. Parker’s hands turn to claws after cranking on the reel handle for four hours, five hours… Another angler on the boat named Marvin adds some comic relief to the situation, but nothing will deter Parker’s determination.

New Zealand is a special place in the annals of angling history. Zane Grey, the famous writer and one of the first men to embark on long fishing expeditions to the far corners of the world, spent time in these waters. Grey also caught giant swordfish, and sharks and other creatures. The far north area and Bay of Islands in particular is a place every traveling angler should put on his or her wish list. You may find yourself far offshore, drifting a squid bait at night. If you do, hold on for the fight of your life.

I’d like to thank an old friend, Sam Mossman from New Zealand Fishing News for reaching out and publishing our latest book review. It’s very cool to have a few readers on the other side of the planet.

Here is Sam’s review…

Thank You, Alaska

June 26, 2018

I caught the first halibut of the trip on a jig bounced on the bottom. If you think grouper bite hard, try hanging on to a fat ‘but!

The man, the legend… Andy Mezirow. Even when the fish are not biting, Andy’s stories will keep you entertained.

Travis Mauer (left) and Capt. Jeff Seward with our biggest halibut of the trip, caught in the final quarter of fishing on the last day.

My happy place.

Trolling for salmon requires a lot of gear and a lot of knowledge. That’s part of the reason why Andy loves it so much.

My biggest fish weighed 74 pounds.

Andy and his wife Nicky now offer lodging is this updated three-bedroom house on the edge of a salmon stream.

Weather can change in a millisecond on the Gulf of Alaska.

Probably my favorite photo from the trip. I can picture this as a two-page spread in a fishing magazine.

Jeff and Travis with another nice fish.

It was a bit early for the kings, but we did manage to find one.

I love mountains. I love ocean. Therefore, I love Alaska.

Alaska is one of those special places that makes you want to be outside, all the time, well in the summer months at least. I have not explored much of the great state, but thanks to a friendship with Andy Mezirow, I have now been to Seward three times. This quaint seaside town offers easy access to the Gulf of Alaska and the incredibly fertile waters surrounding Montague Island.

Andy began fishing around Montague a couple of decades ago and he was one of the first to explore the many pockets and rockpiles all around the island. He and the team at Crackerjack Sportfishing pioneered the idea of overnight fishing trips to fill the fish hold with halibut and oftentimes king salmon. The fishing has changed drastically over the last few years. Fishery managers keep close tabs on the catches and you can now only keep four halibut each year. The salmon fishery is also very regulated, and thankfully so.

We arrived a bit early for salmon, but we got to spend one day on Andy’s new boat, the Gray Light. Andy legendary California custom boat builder, Don Radon, build the 32-foot vessel to meet Andy’s exacting standards. This is a very dialed in charter boat with no expense spared. From the electronics to the tackle to the cabin appointments, I have to say she is one bad-ass vessel. She feels and rides like a much larger boat. And, she’s set up exactly how Andy wants her to catch king salmon, which are kind of like the blue marlin of salmon.

We also spent two days fishing with Jeff Seward, who was Andy’s mate. Jeff lived through 14 years of deckhand duties and practical jokes courtesy of Andy. Jeff still doesn’t leave an open water bottle on the boat for fear of what may have been placed inside it, in all good fun, of course. Jeff is a very accomplished skipper in his own regard and I really appreciate how dedicated he is to the sport and conservation. These men understand the effects of over fishing all too well, and they do their part to educate anglers and conserve the fish stocks.

The trip was arranged by Travis Mauer, a past client of Andy’s whom I met and fished with last November in Australia. Travis is one of the hardest working guys I know. He punches in everyday, for more hours than most of us. And the reason he does it? So he can save up and go on several cool fishing trips a year. I really commend Travis for his love of fishing. He says that he always needs a trip on the horizon to look forward to. It’s what keeps him going.

Our trip to Seward this past June was a bit different than the last ones. I was there to fish, relax and send home some meat for my family. It was very needed and once again, Alaska did not disappoint. If you ever want to try fishing for halibut or salmon, head to Seward and give Andy and the Crackerjack crew a call. They’ll take good care of you.

I’ll turn 43 years old this week. That’s kind of a weird pill to swallow. My spirit doesn’t feel 43, but there are plenty of days where my body does.

My hair has taken a step past salt and pepper, leaning heavily on salt. In fact, I’m salty all over… chest, arm hair and even elsewhere. That part doesn’t really bother me. I mean I know I can dye it, but that seems wholeheartedly silly. I’ve never been that vain, or have I?

The part that bothers me most of all is that I hardly get checked out anymore, and on the rare occasion that I do get checked out, it’s usually by an elderly woman, or a gay guy. And I’ll take that. I’ll take it straight to the fuckin’ bank. I have no qualms with it. I say thank you. It feels good to be noticed for just being you. It feels nice when your mind’s eye picks up someone’s glare from across a store or at the gym. I remember that feeling. A stranger’s smile. That feels nice. I get it mostly when I’m out with my boys. They’re much cuter than me.

I never was one of the beautiful people, I don’t think, but I would say I was always cute. In my twenties I had long curly hair and mop chops. The granola chicks dug me, and I dug them. To this day I still feel more me with longer hair, but it’s thin as shit up top and that fade-away pony tail look just doesn’t work for me. I keep it much cleaner and get a hair cut every six weeks or so. Nothing too drastic. I don’t use gel or product. I’m just me, for the most part. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m supposed to add some steps to my beauty routine. Maybe shaving once a week isn’t cutting it anymore. Maybe I need to stop wearing board shorts and flip flops everyday. Maybe I say I don’t really give two shits what people think, but maybe I give at least one shit.

Then there is the strange feeling of nervousness that comes over me like a panic attack when I do get checked out. It happens so rarely and all, and hardly ever by someone from the beautiful crowd. Several weeks ago I came home from the gym desperate to tell my wife about an encounter I had had to see if she thought I was being checked out. I was on the elliptical machine. It was the middle of the day. I was on my lunch break, spending half of it on this dreaded machine that slows down time like a black hole. I was in the middle of the row of cardio torture devices. There were at least four empty machines on either side of me. This is why I go to the gym on my lunch hour. It’s quiet. No grunting douchebags staring at themselves as they curl big chunks of metal.

One of the beautifuls walked down the aisle heading right toward me. I watched her ascend the stairs. Yoga pants, sports bra, long brown hair in a pony tail, toned flesh with lipstick on her lips. When she caught my stare, I immediately turned away, back to the TVs mounted to the ceiling. But she kept inching toward me. She walked right past the empty machines and mounted the stead directly next to me. She set her water bottle in the holder, put on her headphones and began her workout. Right there. Not a foot away from me.

I was puzzled. Was she checking me out? Did she want me to speak to her? Was she just positioning herself under the TV that was playing the house hunters show she wanted to watch, or was she purposely planning to workout next to me? Was it my sleeveless workout shirt that drew her in like a siren’s song? No. No, it was not. I knew it was not. But why was she working out next to me when there were so many other empty machines. Did she want me to stare at her to make herself feel better? But she’s one of the beautifuls. Surely my stare wouldn’t improve her standing amongst the elite people who walk the Earth with the gaze of thousands upon their backside.

My pace picked up. Now I was trying to show off. She seemed oblivious. I was so distracted with all of these thoughts that I ended my workout early. Then I ran home to tell my wife.

“Yeah babe, she was definitely checking you out,” my wife said after I rattled on, quickly recounting the entire interaction in the cardio zone.

“I’m crazy, I know. But maybe she was checking me out, right?”

“I’m sure she was,” my wife said, “why wouldn’t she. You’re adorable.”

And that’s when I realized that I may not be one of the beautifuls, but I sure married up. And that feels good. Everyday. So bring on 43, and before too long 50. It’s all good. I’ve got my partner. My family. My work. Grey thinning hair can be shaved off, but love and self worth lives in the heart.