Oh the joy! The day that Sway, 5, went fishing – Delmarva Daily Times

“Only those that look through the eyes of children can lose themselves in the object of their wonder.”  — Eberhart Arnold

There is no doubt that these are some tough times for local anglers. Facing severe cuts and restrictions on virtually all inshore bottom species and bitterly cold weather it’s hard not to get down in the dumps.

And then came Sway.

Late last week I was pounding away on a piece on the forthcoming flounder fiasco when I got a picture of a turkey with five tail feathers created by 5-year-old Sway Rogers. Each feather had the name of a person that was important to the artist. The first four tail feathers contained the names of various family members. The last, however, said in clear letters “The guy who took me fishing.”

Instantly I was taken away from the esoterically mind-numbing crush of numbers and fisheries data and remembered a sunny day in the summer. The snow outside melted away at the memory of a child’s laugh as the boat leaped and tossed her mane on the bay and pushed away all the gloomy thoughts.

Too often we can be guilty of a single-mindedness of purpose in our sport. Fish enough and you sometimes forget to look around with that wonder of a child and lose what’s really important. Looking at that picture, Sway taught me more than any of the fisheries reports or managers had in all my research.

See, on the day Sway went fishing we stopped to look at things. Dolphins breached along the trip to “hot spot number one.”  Osprey fledglings, looking more like adults in late summer and full of that irritated “chirp” of their parents, peered down from perches. Great, big sea turtles with their “whoosh” exhale when they figured out that there were humans on that floating object. The rough feel of a shark’s skin, and those snaggly teeth. The iridescent purples awash along the sides of a sea trout with their vampire-ish vomarine teeth protruding from yellow mouths.

The day that Sway went fishing we got to jump waves on the way home, the boat throwing her mane with the spray cascading back away from the spray rail.  Instead of being an irritant, though, something that stole fuel mileage or added to the trip time, on the day that Sway went the waves made for that timeless laughter of a child. They were a roller coaster ride made better with the sounds of the “shhhss” as the boat cut the waves and the salty splash. And that music. I can honestly say that no boat on which I stood at the helm has ever heard the like of.

The day that Sway went fishing there were clouds of sea birds, and feeling the vibration of the boat through the rail.  The sea gulls while the fish were cleaned were no longer rats with wings fighting for rib cages but aerial acrobats putting on a show that plenty of people, trapped inside in some office building or car during a commuter trek, were missing out on.

The fact is that while there were a great many things that Sway learned from her day on the water, it’s clear, now, that the biggest teacher that day was Sway herself.

The things she taught about the water, and the sport we all love are never quantified in any statistical measure but are, in fact, the reason that many of us have held a fishing rod all of our lives and eventually come to find out that it’s been the other way around all along.

Thanks Sway.

Comments, questions or reports to captjackrodgers@comcast.net

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