Stories

Christmas Day 2000

My wife, Rebecca and I drove down to Santa Maria on Christmas day to visit my Grandmother. We were feeling a bit road weary after the four hour drive and decided to stop at Pismo Beach, check out the off road vehicles and take a walk on the beach.

After breathing the salt air and unwinding we headed back to Hwy101 to finish our trek to Santa Maria. As we were driving along the beach Rebecca points out a dead Seagull. She insists that we stop and make sure that the gull is indeed dead and not merely injured. So I turn around and as we pull up along side, it becomes painfully obvious that the gull is alive but is tangled up in mono-filament.

The gull can't walk and it's head is bent over to it's left foot, but as Rebecca moves towards the gull it somehow manages to fly twenty feet. I circle around to try and keep it from flying into the dunes but before I can take my position it flies over a fence and into the dunes.

Rebecca catches up to the poor critter and is able to catch it! I rush over and commence to analyze the mess of hooks and mono-filament. The gull has a hook stuck in it's beak which has gotten the blood flowing. There's another hook in the gull's left leg and mono-filament goes from the left leg to it's beak and back to wrap around the right foot and then around it's left wing. The right leg is blue from having it's circulation cut off. It's a mess.

Rebecca's white shirt is no longer white and has the gull's blood all over. And now as I'm busy with my Swiss Army knife and my Leatherman trying to free the bird, it takes a big bite out of Rebecca's shoulder. Yeeeeouch! Somehow I'm able to cut the hook on the left leg, and remove the mono that's wrapped around it. Now I work on the mono that is tightly wrapped around the right leg and after few moments of the gull struggling, Rebecca struggling and me struggling I free the right leg. At the same time the gull thrashes a bit and the hook flies out of it's beak. I then pull the remaining mono from around the wing and the gull is free of it's bindings!

We both just kind of pause and look at the gull. It just stares back. Rebecca sets him down and he just stands there for a second, then tries out his feet. The right leg is obviously not cooperating and it limps in a drunken lurch just a short distance before it turns around and gives Rebecca a look in the eye. It flaps it's wings and sends little feathers flying and tries it's leg again. Better, much better and Rebecca points out that the blue right leg is no longer blue and is now pinkish in color. The gull tries it's wings now and flies a few feet away.

Relieved that the bird looks like it will recover, we head back to the truck to continue our drive. Christmas 2000 turned out to be a profound experience for both of us.

Seagulls can be a pain when you're fishing and they decide they want your bait. But you can avoid hooking these beautiful creatures by making sure your bait stays in the water and not just dangling from your unattended rod. Also picking up your trash, especially broken off fish line will help prevent animals from getting tangled up. Tight lines, screaming reels and Merry Christmas!