I was about ten years old when I was introduced to the joys of cast fishing. It is, however, not something that is new but has been used by man for thousands of years, including by some of Jesus' strongest followers who fished the Sea of Galilee. The general technique has not changed much, but the equipment is now much better. The lines and the nets are stronger and can withstand the elements better and they are lighter, making the art of casting simpler. Yet it takes some practice to perfect and if you don't take the time to learn it, the nets will never open when you need them to do so.
I was taught at Nags Head by an older boy who spent the summers there in the mid-twentieth century as did I. He had been given a cast net and we would take turns practicing in the sand back from the beach, casting and retrieving and repeating those steps over and over. The first time we tried it in the ocean, we met only limited success since the nets didn't fully open. Finally, along came a local fisherman who showed us where we were leaving out a step by not first checking to make sure the nets had no kinks or twists. After that, bingo, it worked. It was somewhat similar to a golf swing in that your lower body stayed stationary with feet implanted in the sand while the twist of the upper torso and release of the net came in quick order. Once we learned it, we never forgot it and the reward was having to spend no more money on bait. Today, anyone who wants to learn can find good how to guides including videos on the internet to explain. I especially like an article by Chad Ferguson who shows how to cast in search of catfish. It's a technique he uses on a boat but it's quite similar to the method for oceanfront fishing. He even says there is no perfect technique, just whatever opens the net fully. Just remember to keep the loop at the end of the handline attached snugly to your wrist or when you make the throw, there goes the net, sinkers and all.
We would catch our bait, store it in a bucket full of salt water drawn from the sea which we kept in the outside shower at the cottage. That way, when we were ready to fish, be it surf casting or down at the pier. we were always set to go. Sometimes when we had a bumper crop we might even make a few spending bucks from tourists fishing who thought our bait looked better than what was being sold at the pier. I guess we were budding capitalists but didn't yet realize it.
So, as I look at the picture of that determined young lad hoping for a good catch of shiners or even small mullet run almost ashore by some blues, it makes me smile. I think the young fellow has learned something that I never forgot but which was ingrained in my psyche during those Nags Head summers. Sometimes the joys of life are found in the little things we do. They don't necessarily have to cost any money but they are good things to know and experience. I'm sure the young man will grow up realizing that as I've never forgotten. As for the beautiful work by Bill Hinkle, I offer another thank you for sharing another great photo that triggered some special memories once again. Memories are what my "Summers at Old Nags Head," remain all about as they are permanently etched in my soul.