They were scared. That is the only explanation. The fish were scared.
Those fine fin friends in Gloucester Harbor must have heard through the fish grapevine that the A-team was coming after them on Monday morning.
Clearly, they wanted no part of young Marco Mateo and the three Juden kids — Lyla, Daniel and Colton – who were on the prowl for stripers as part of the inaugural trip of the Gloucester Police Department's Kops-N-Kids fishing program.
That proved especially true as on the day's noontime trip — with a different set of young anglers — it was stripers all around. That's how it goes. You take what the fishing gods give you.
After about 90 minutes around Gloucester Harbor, from Eastern Point to Cripple Cove and points in between, the score on the first trip was Fish 4, Kids 0.
The shutout hardly mattered. The kids were mostly beaming on the way back in despite the final tally and the advancing rain.
And Officers Joe Parady and Pete Sutera accomplished what the program is set to achieve — provide children with the opportunity to interact with police officers in relaxed, communal activities that could help bridge the traditional gap between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“I think it's a tremendous idea,” said Lisa Olson, Marco's grandmother, who also tried her luck with the rod. “It's good for them to get to know the officers when they're not in uniform.”
The fishing program, the brainchild of the department's Community Impact Unit, is designed to prompt kids to get in touch with their inner Gloucesterite by learning the basics of saltwater fishing and safe boating.
Along the way, they also get to work on valuable life skills, such as patience, preparation and humility.
“But that experience is really a conduit to provide children, young children with a positive experience with police officers,” said Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro, who heads the Community Impact Unit.
The police boat left the docks at about 10 a.m. for the first trip, the kids outfitted in life vests and hats that were among the gear donations from Three Lantern Marine on Parker Street, Nelson's on Main Street, and the Bass Pro Shops in Foxborough.
The harbor was cloaked in gray, from the skies to the water, and not much was moving. The view beyond the Dog Bar was just a curtain of fog.
As Parady skippered boat toward Smith Cove, Sutera got busy helping the kids bait their lines. He also made a slightly intemperate prediction:
“Everyone's going to get one today,” he said.
As Parady throttled back, Sutera made his first cast from the starboard side of the stern and turned the rod over to Marco.
He baited the second and passed it to the members of Team Juden.
The Juden kids – 6-year-old Lyla, 5-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Colton — had been on boats before and had fished on lakes. But not on the ocean.
“They have been so excited,” said Dan Juden, their dad. “They've been talking about it ever since we told them on Friday that they were going to be able to go. We probably should have waited until yesterday to tell them.”
Once around Smith Cove, Parady piloted the boat down to Cripple Cove and then back along the Everett R. Jodrey State Fish Pier, past the Coast Guard cutter Key Largo and the fishing vessels Lucy and the Princess Laura.
Then it was out past Ten Pound Island and across toward Eastern Point. The lines were still in the water. As were the fish.
“We're just trying to exercise your patience skills,” Parady told the kids.
And then slightly under his breath: “Come on, fishy, fishy, fishy. Come on.”
There was a nibble near Black Bass Rocks, but the hook never set and it was time to head in. The day, however, wasn't over. Nor wasted.
Once at the Solomon Jacobs dock, Parady and Sutera led their fishing party over to a corner of the dock, where a line led into the water.
With the help of Marco, they hauled up a lobster trap teeming with lobsters. They explained to the kids how the traps worked and described some lobster basics.
And then the inaugural expedition of the Gloucester Police Department's Kops-N-Kids fishing program was in the books.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT