Fishing Friendships: A Line Never Broken

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Curt Dircks and I intercepted a bluefish blitz off Fire Island in 2012.

I was talking with an old friend, a former college roommate from Syracuse University, and we were setting up our annual striper fishing trip for the spring. Every year, since 2004 when we met and later became friends and then roommates, we’ve made an annual spring and/or fall pilgrimage to Fire Island, a barrier Island south of Long Island where his family has a small cabin.

As we tentatively penciled in this year’s Spring trip, I got to thinking about the strength of friendships built on or around the water.

When you’re a teenager, or in your early 20s, you make more friends than you might for the rest of your life combined. Whether it’s all the new people you meet as an undergraduate, high school friends you stay in touch with, or those first people that help you on your career path… it’s a time when you meet people you’ll remember forever.

I was lucky to be born into a large Irish Catholic family, and my cousins back in Upstate New York are some of my oldest fishing friends. Joe Critelli, two years my junior, dutifully helped me load our Pond Prowler into my first used Dodge pickup to explore ponds all over Upstate New York. Everett Lockwood, only a month younger than me, would spend summers on Cape Cod with me tracking striped bass and bluefish when the tide was right and using that same Pond Prowler on as many Cape ponds as we could. Joe’s younger brother, Chris, three years younger than I, got the road-trip gene and has traveled via motorhome throughout much of the lower 48, but I was able to catch up with him on the first Catch a Cure, and we’re never too far apart to remember some hilarious anecdote that usually involved teenaged stupidity or overconfidence.

Our lives diverged on different paths (congratulations again to Everett Lockwood, now a husband), but we’re never too far apart or too busy to share a fishing picture, a story, or a memory. There’s an almost endless number of stories that could finish the ones that start: “How bout that time we…”

I even found a fisherman at Emerson. Classmate James Spica was kind enough to invite me down to South Carolina and hook me up with a guide that put me on my largest redfish of all-time.

But as we penciled in this year’s striper trip, I couldn’t help but think of how powerful fishing is in keeping friends together through anything that life throws at them. It’s been eight years since I graduated from Syracuse University, and I’ve worked in New York City as an intern for Field & Stream, at On The Water as an editor, traveled the country blogging for Outdoor Life, worked from Florida as a full-time content creator for a website, traveled the coast fighting melanoma for both Game & Fish and B.A.S.S.  and now I’m back in the Northeast, in Boston, finishing my Master’s Degree at Emerson. Curt has lived in New Jersey, New York City and even San Diego.

And we might not be in touch on a daily basis, sometimes we won’t see one another for months or even a year… but when the spring rolls around, we set up the annual trip. Making plans this year I was reminded of how profoundly important fishing is in our lives, and for so many reasons.

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