Someone asked me recently if I had an absolute favorite outdoor sport, and it proved a tough question.
As readers know, I love hunting and fishing of any kind, but when I thought a little more I had to say that skin diving (snorkeling) ranked extremely high. It's a wonderful sport, one that lets you see just what's going on under that mysterious surface of lapping waves, and puts you into a totally different environment, a new place with new rules.
I fell into snorkeling almost by accident. During three summers spent at OSU's Stone Lab field station on South Bass Island, my professors quickly discovered that I knew something about the outdoors and could swim. So, I was soon being given jobs like "Martin, go get me a couple of dozen clams for tomorrow's dissection," and being handed a face mask and snorkel. Another professor often needed a partner to help him seek channel cat nests in caves under the island, so we'd use his tank and "buddy breathe" while we searched out nests at night with flashlights.
Lake Erie was a little murky then, but on a good day often had six to eight feet visibility, and I still remember fishing for smallmouths along Peach Point in the Put-in-Bay harbor, catching nothing, and deciding to put on a mask to go down and see if there were any fish there. I saw dozens! Some of them were big, bronzed and red-eyed lunkers of four pounds or more, that came up and goggled right into my face plate. I swam back up to the boat, climbed in and fished some more. And caught nothing.