Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

January 3rd, 2005

The End? By No Means

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
What I never knew was where this journey in life would take me. It has, in fact, taken me to where I've already been and, delightfully, reminded me of memories I had forgotten.

Is there an end? Not really, I haven't taken my final breath yet. This is only a pause to reflect on my life while examining several facets of it. It is actually a "thank you" to my dad, I suppose.

I have visited many places. I have enjoyed the brilliant conversation of several people that are mentors to me in this great sport of fishing. I have been able to watch in awe, children, as well as adults, catch their first fish and share their excitement, simply, because I have been there.

My next birthday I will reach the age of fifty-three and that's not too far away. Does it bother me? Not in the least. I have my health. I have a superwoman for a wife, and she's one hell of a fishing partner. I have six grand sons and one grand daughter and they are all Florida Natives! I have inherited two wonderful daughters that I love and enjoy being around, and they feel the same about me, even though I make them eat strange things like venison, frog legs and 'gator.

I have managed to fish all of central Florida's east and west coasts, and interiors. I haven't made it to the Keys yet, but I will.

So here are a few of the millions of questions;

Why did I get so involved in this sport to begin with? That's simple, because of the man I called "Daddy" for not nearly long enough. I said it before, I would give almost anything just to have him spend one day with me on the flats; to sit and talk with him as an adult instead of just, well, his kid. To be able to watch his eyes and his expressions as I map out the journeys where he took me by squeezing that little dough ball on that size six hook almost fifty years ago. What would he say about my adventures? What would he think of my wife, Linda? What would his reaction be to my title of captain? What would I read in his eyes as he examined my skiff? Hundreds and thousands of questions that I would ask, but I already know the answers to them. His smirk would answer the most. The sparkle in his eyes would answer more. And then the moment would come when he would answer the rest of my questions with a single question of his own. "Did you learn anything?"

Unfortunately, I will never have that opportunity to sit with this man face to face, flesh to flesh. The Master of us all knew what he was doing when he never allowed for this in His "Rule Book on Life and Death." One day would never be enough, so He invented memories.

There is no such thing as "closure." According to Mr. Webster, it means the act of closing. To me it is finality; the end of it. It's a word that has been worn out by therapists to sell books. I still miss my dad and he's been gone from this Earth since 1973. At times, I still grieve for him, even though he is as close to me as he ever was. So, do I want "closure?" Hell no, that would be the end of it. ~ Capt. Gary

About Gary:

Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area. After moving a little closer to the coast, his interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."

He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the waters will ever be present.

Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater patterns in the early '90's and has participated as a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting and tying instructor and stained glass artist, creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.


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