Four baited lines lie silently in the water, so I take a moment to relax in the coastal sun. A sea turtle the size of a large boulder swims past, unconcerned by the proximity of a couple of humans in a kayak.
It’s a far cry from my days fishing in family stock tanks as a little girl, but I lose myself in a reverie of standing on the bank, watching and waiting for the red- and-white bobber to dip.
Buzz! I’m jolted out of my daze when a line screams for attention.
“FISH ON!” Immanuel yells, handing me the rod.
I marvel at the sheer strength of the fish, summoning up a quick fantasy of myself as Quint, the grizzled shark hunter from Jaws.
My vessel is less than half the size of Quint’s Orca. My boyfriend (who’s guiding our expedition) and I are sharing a tandem kayak, complete with pedals and paddles, gliding along only inches above turquoise water, a mile offshore from Padre Island National Seashore.
No need for daydreams when the adrenaline’s flowing. My heart’s pounding and my arm muscles are burning as I try to strike a balance between letting the huge king mackerel run and reeling him back furiously.
The rod tip bends dramatically toward the water, almost becoming submerged.
“You’ve got it! Don’t try to fight him,” Immanuel keeps coaching me. I refuse to give up.
Immanuel pedals and steers the kayak in whatever direction the king wants to go. Working with the fish, not against it, we’re keeping the line intact and the hook set.
The kayak jostles slightly from side to side with every tug on the line, but never enough to even come close to tipping over. Earlier this morning, while paddling out over the waist-high waves crashing into shore, getting swamped was a concern.
Maybe the action only lasts for a couple of minutes, but time slows for me and it feels like hours until I finally see a 5-foot- plus flash of deep blue and silver breach the surface of the water.
I reel the fish as close to the kayak as possible, close enough for Immanuel to grab it by the tail and hoist it on board.
I look back at my catch in complete disbelief. Did I just do that? Was that even real?
My admirable opponent, now in our kayak, would soon be on our plates. The king isn’t the only one hooked — I want to relive this adventure again and again.