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A Full Net: In the Genes

Updated: Dec 4, 2023


Susan “Sue” Daignault was practically born with a rod and reel in her hand. Nearly from her birth, she and her family spent entire summers surfcasting for striped bass along the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. That love has followed her through her days in the Coast Guard and to her home on the coast of Maine and to some of the most beautiful, and fishy, places in the world. In her fun and fascinating new book, A Full Net, Sue shares with readers how she became “fish-brained,” and a woman increasingly driven to pursue everything from bonefish and tarpon to bass and, of course, stripers—wherever and whenever she could. What shines through all of her stories of success, failure, and friendship is a love for the waters of the world and the respect and admiration for the fish who call them home.


Below is an excerpt from the chapter "In the Genes."


 

THE TIES THAT BIND US.


My clan.


The tribe I grew up with.


The people who love me for who I am because they were part of the mold I came from.

This is my family. We fished together during all hours of the day and night, and we became awesome troubleshooters, problem solvers, and collaborators. We were intent on finding and catching fish.


Parents pass on physical characteristics, such as eye color, to their children through their genes. Our parents passed on a love of fishing to us. All of us in the Daignault (pronounced DAY-NO) clan have a knack for it, an innate connection that was likely learned but I like to think it’s in our genes. The love of fishing was passed from my parents, Frank and Joyce, to all of us kids—older brother Dickie, older sister Carol, and my identical twin sister Sandy, who has been known to stop off to fish for speckled trout both to and from work, sometimes in a skirt.


It makes perfect sense to me that we would grow up and continue fishing whenever we can. Our early summers were spent fishing. My parents and my three siblings fished the beaches of Rhode Island in my youngest years, and then we fished outer Cape Cod for striped bass and bluefish when I grew a little older. Dickie was four years older than me and Carol was a year and a half older. Sandra was three minutes younger than me and to this day I hold those three precious minutes over her head.


The story of how the genes combined to make us who we are must include the strength, beauty, and awesome love only a mother can provide. My mother, Joyce, is an amazing woman and more than our matriarch. She and Dad already had Dickie and Carol and were barely into their early twenties when Sandy and I were born. Mom developed her own career while mothering us, completed her master’s degree, and became an excellent teacher. All the while she was the backbone of our family, and became an exceptional outdoorswoman, keeping pace with Dad and the men who dominated the field. She is still revered today as an expert shooter and hunter. Those who fished alongside her when I was a kid saw her angling ability.


Spending entire summers keeping us all fed and cared for while living in our camper on Cape Cod could not have been easy for her. While most of the time it was cozy and joyous, it could be challenging. Mom and Dad slept in a lower bunk equivalent to a full-sized bed. Carol and Sandy shared a bunk created when we put the camper’s table down. Meanwhile, Dickie and I shared an overhead bunk. Together, Carol and Dickie were too big to share a single bunk so Sandy and I, both younger and smaller, were split up. If I had to pee in the night, I had to climb over Dickie trying not to wake him up, then lower myself five feet down to the lower bunk where Sandy and Carol were sleeping. Then I’d drop down to the floor. Dad often slept with his arm out in the aisle, and I was too small to climb over. He was also often awake and would grab me halfway by. The toilet was in the camper rear with a curtain. Actually, I always woke them all up!


There was a small propane gas stove that Mom used for cooking, and she was an amazing planner, carefully mapping out meals she could handle. Every few days we went into town to do laundry, get water, dump the septic tank, buy groceries, and sell our fish. Town days were fun and usually meant a trip to the candy store (when younger), pizza (and beer for the folks), and walks down Commercial Street in Provincetown while my parents sold the fish at the pier.


She did all of this between tides and likely on less sleep than any other mother out there. Her love for all of us has been unwavering and awesome. In retrospect, my mother was superhuman to get it all done and fish as much as she did.


Preorder A Full Net today.


 

A Massachusetts native, Sue Daignault spent her childhood summers surfcasting for striped bass with her parents and three siblings along the beaches of Rhode Island and Cape Cod. She graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1983, with a degree in marine engineering. For thirty years, she served in the U.S. Coast Guard, including postings from Alaska to Louisiana. Now a Registered Maine Guide and Certified Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International, she works as an occupational safety consultant, fly fishing instructor and guide. She resides in Harpswell, Maine with her spouse, spending many of her days fishing the fresh and salt waters of Maine.





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