The Gift Of Fishing

A lifetime love of the sport passes through the generations.

Article and photo by Captain Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters

Tis the season and, as usual, I spend a lot of time contemplating gifts. I have long since figured out the favorite gift I’ve ever received: the time and effort of a few people who introduced me to fishing.

The first, to the best of my recollection, was a tiny Japanese lady by the name of Jeannie. Being a Navy brat, I grew up on military bases, and Jeannie had married a sailor who was my Dad’s best friend.

I think I was around seven when she put me to the task of gathering a sack full of hermit crabs. We were stationed in Puerto Rico, and hermits were as plentiful as fiddlers are here in the Lowcountry.

She then took me by the hand and led me to the Navy pier, where she pulled out her hammer, cracking the shells and exposing the crab’s tail that it uses to anchor itself into the shell.

It turns out the crab tail is caviar to fish, and we were soon cranking in fish left and right. I remember very little of my early youth, but that memory has always remained clear and vivid.

Fast forward six years, and another gentleman entered my life, embracing the role of Dad, just as if I was his own blood. Being an avid fisherman and hunter, it was not long before he had me on the banks of the Columbia River fishing and catching steelhead and trout. The whole ritual of gathering the rods and tackle boxes, coupled with the anticipation of a foray into the wild, was euphoric.

Being blessed now with a son and daughter, I have tried to pass this on to my kids. My son Caleb, 16, has finally come full stride in his passion. This past summer, he was up at 5:30 every morning, assuming the role of first mate. He didn’t miss a single trip. The spark is definitely glowing in his eyes, and his latest aspiration has changed to marine biology, as opposed to NBA star. 

My little Sarah, 10, has many trips under her belt and can tell you every fish she has ever caught, albeit not a long list.

Some of my favorite charter trips involve youngsters who have never fished. I get a lot of gratification watching the fire light up when they catch their first fish. In these days of technology, when children’s attention seems to be dominated with cell phones or video games, getting them in touch with nature and a bent rod is fantastic.

Caleb wants to go to Florida this Christmas holiday and catch his first sailfish. He has reeled in many fish over 40 pounds — including redfishcobia and mahi — and wants to add billfish to the list. While we have them here, they are some 60 miles offshore, making it a long and costly journey locally. When the cold fronts of December roll through southern Florida, they congregate there within a mile of shore.

I can’t think of a better gift. Merry Christmas and God bless!

Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years of experience fishing Lowcountry waters. Don’t miss the Finatic boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour. Contact Capt. Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.