The past month, or so, has been just that;
a whirlwind. The pool is finished, finally!
And right before our contractor finished it,
Linda and I had begun a massive landscaping
project in the backyard, including the lake
bank. I grew up on cypress lined lake shores,
so I saw it fit to install two, very nice bald
cypress trees just at the water's edge. I'll
probably add one or two more. Just kinda feels
Palm trees were in order to add that tropical
ambiance that Florida is famous for (instead
of that giant, plastic mouse). So, it was off
to the nurseries to look at a few different
specimens. Did I say a few? There are now at
least eight different species of palms scattered
strategically around the pool and around the yard,
and why not? Heck, there's even palms in the huge,
terracotta pots on the deck of our new, cement
pond. Then six ligustrum trees, three drake elms,
yadda, yadda, yadda.
Then it was time to install the new sod. We're
not the "call the landscape company" type. We
like getting' dirty. And boy, did we ever. All
five pallets of it went down one piece at a time.
The reward? An instant carpet of green that will
require fertilizer, bug killer, weed control, and
various other types of spraying, spreading and,
of course, mowing. The five pallets were added
to the other part of the lawn the pool contractor
managed not to destroy. But that's just fine, I
like yard work, seriously; in touch with Mother
Earth, a sense of pride.
Dang, almost forgot Linda's goldfish pond. It's
nothing fancy...yet. It's nice, about a hundred
and sixty gallon, pre-formed shell, buried in
the ground with a fountain and a couple of dozen
little goldfish doin' laps. But that had to be
landscaped also. And what goldfish pond would be
complete without a three hundred pound, concrete,
gopher tortoise bench standing guard over it? He's
pretty cool, though.
I hadn't even thought about fly-fishing with all
this going on. Now I did check the FAOL website
quite regularly, but as far as planning a trip to
the coast, or even walking down to the lake to
fling a bug? Not a chance. Well, until the Friday
before Memorial Day.
My buddy and I were preparing a Cajun-style
luncheon for a group at work when my cell
phone rang. It was our own "phishfool_98"
(J. D. Cornelius) from the saltwater bulletin
board. He was down from Alabama visiting his
folks in Daytona and had asked for a little
advice on fishing the area. Well heck, I just
couldn't let the opportunity get away, so I
posted back that I could meet him in Titusville
for a little camaraderie and fly-fishing.
Around five-thirty, Memorial Day morning we met
up just outside Titusville and headed to the
flats on the eastern shoreline of the Indian
River. I found out that J. D. had spent some
of his youth in the area, and as we drove toward
our destination, he reminisced about the area and
how it had changed over the years. But as we drove,
he came to realize the river hadn't changed that
much. The eastern shore is protected and is a
National Wildlife Reserve.
My old, familiar friends were there; gators,
roseate spoonbills, wood storks, as the orange
sun began to crest the mangroves. I forgot about
all the palm trees and shrubs and grass back at
home. We grew silent as we watched the river wake
up. The same dike roads I had driven many times
refreshed my tired body and mind, as I searched
the waters for signs of tailing red fish.
I shared a golden bend-back with J. D. as we
entered the water, surveying it as we waded
knee-deep in the estuary in the goldenness of
the morning, getting to know each other. But
as it has always been with other fly-fishers,
it seemed to me that we had known each other
In typical, saltwater style, we beat the surface
to a froth with colored, thick lines. A few nice
sea trout were even caught and released. The noon
hour snuck up on us; hours seemed as minutes, and
J. D. had to return to Daytona to spend the rest
of this sacred holiday with his folks. A new
friendship was established, and we vowed to meet
again when he returned to east, central Florida.
I returned home to our self-created paradise, and,
as I sat there looking over the lake behind the
house, I realized I had left one paradise to return
to another. I was where I needed to be. I was home.
And, an hour and a half before, I was also home...my
'Til next time... ~ Capt. 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.