Tails of a Fisherwife

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By SUSANNA POPE

Fishing Laundry - The Beginning

When I first moved to the Keys, I quickly realized how much I loved offshore fishing.  I had grown up fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, and occasionally in lakes or streams in the Northeast, and I had always really enjoyed it. I moved to Key West a little over three years ago and was introduced to offshore fishing.  After being fortunate enough to ‘ride along’ on charters a few times, I soon found out that there was something different about being offshore fishing, often out of sight of land, trolling at 6 or 7 knots for ‘big’ fish, that I just seemed to connect with. I had fallen in love… with offshore fishing.  It very quickly became my favorite pastime. Thankfully, while enjoying my new love, I soon enough met and fell in love with the second love I’d found in Key West, an amazing man (and in my humble opinion the best deckhand in the world) Jerry Pope. Our mutual love for fishing is an obvious bond we share. Luckily the stars aligned (or maybe a really nice weed line) and we happily got married at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West on May 8, 2015.  We had a beautiful ‘Fancy Fishing’ wedding with all of our friends and family there, and many members of the Lower Keys and Key West fishing community attended as well. It was a spectacularly beautiful ceremony, party, and night, and we felt honored to have so much love and support around us. While being a Fisherwife is one of the best ‘jobs’ in the world with many benefits, like free fish to cook up, occasionally getting to ride along on charters, the thrill of adventure, being on the water, and spending time with the hubby are all wonderful (and did I mention I absolutely love it?) there is one thing that has been a problem from the very beginning of our relationship… fishing laundry. Before I was an actual Fisherwife, and just a newbie realizing I loved offshore fishing with a deckhand boyfriend, I was excited to be a part of any and anything to do with fishing or supporting Jerry with his job. So, very soon after starting to date, I began to do Jerry's laundry.  I was even enthusiastic about it! But this was the first time I realized that there was something that I did not like about fishing; it was the laundry. Now as all women know, laundry is not the most fun, exciting, or clean household task there is (are there ANY?!). Before doing Jerry's laundry however, I really enjoyed laundry; well, let’s say it was my favorite chore. But Jerry’s laundry was a whole different story from the 'normal' dirty laundry I was used to. The first thing I noticed was that even though he always wore the same general outfit each day (a t-shirt, board shorts, long white athletic socks, and of course, his signature white fishing boots) he often had multiple 'outfit changes' a day because he was either so sweaty or so dirty that it was absolutely necessary.  The outcome of this practice was that this made a completely absurd amount of laundry for just one person; this being laundry issue number one. A few huge loads in, I started being able to tell what kind of fish Jerry had caught that day by the stains and or smells on his clothes. This phenomenon was a little creepy for me at first.  Perhaps I had become a bit too familiar with fishing? But soon enough this ‘talent’ helped me, because I could try to decipher the best way to clean the shirt based on the fish stains that I could identify.  Whether it was fish blood, slime from their scales, or their poop; which all can be slightly different based on the type of fish (believe me, I know, it’s totally gross.) So I spent time inspecting, identifying, and treating the stains individually and specifically with various stain removing methods. About three months into my laundry duties, I had realized a frustrating but at the same time comforting fact.  No matter what I did to the stains or what I used on them Oxy Clean, pretreating stains, cold water, using a stain stick immediately, peroxide, bleach, and endless scrubbing, and any and every combination of these, the fact was no stains actually ended up ever looking significantly better. At first I felt defeated. Was I not a good enough fishing girlfriend? Could I not handle this task after I had put so much energy into getting his clothes clean for him? Would my boyfriend ever look clean again?!? As defeated as I felt (for five minutes) I soon came to a conclusion that this was freeing for me! Who cares if his clothes are stain-free? Certainly not the fish!! Maybe certain ‘clean’ people might judge, but did I care about that either? I knew I loved Jerry enough that it had never mattered to me what he wore or how clean he looked. So I decided it just didn't matter about the stains, its about the person wearing them… and what they caught (of course!!)  I can say, I caught myself a good one; possibly wearing dirty clothes, but definitely a keeper!


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