Aw, now don't get me started on things that you
know full well I can't stop talking about. Things
like food, or fishing or life in general. Okay,
you twisted my arm...ouch!
Let's touch on food. I like food. I like mostly
all kinds of foods, except rhubarb, rutabagas and
green peppers, yuck! Double-yuck on green, bell
peppers! I love Cajun food, but why do they go
and mess it up with bell peppers? And, if y'all
don't know what rutabaga and rhubarb is, go ahead,
try it. I wrinkle my nose to you!
I love food. I love food that is fancy, as long
as some chef doesn't go and serve me up one of
those cute, little plates with an ounce of whatever
is supposed to be a full meal and charge me as much
as Bill Gates' salary for a year! I would like more
than a taste, please! I love barbeque, as long as
it's real. That stuff they cook on those new, fancy
gas grills ain't real, it's fake barbeque. The Real
McCoy is slow-cooked over a good hardwood. It takes
time, and that time can be spent talking about my
next favorite thing, fishin'!
Yessiree...fishin', pure and simple. Cane-pole fishin'
is where my roots are firmly embedded. I grew up fishin'
with a cane pole and dough balls, or worms, or crickets.
Then some fool introduced me to saltwater many years
ago. Yep, offshore spoiled me rotten. Forget that
dollar-twenty-nine-cent cane pole and give me blue-water;
way out there where you can forget about seeing the
shoreline; where bottle-nosed dolphin ride the push
of the bow wake; where fish, bigger than humans,
crash bait and turn the gears of expensive reels
into smoking junk and break the finest of graphite
rods into mere shreds.
Wait...just give me the gin-clear flats, where the
water is brackish and is no more than knee-deep;
where one's footstep can easily spook a red fish
into speeds of pure blur, and cause nightmares to
the stalking fisher-person for years to come.
Put me in a multi-thousand dollar flats boat,
dress me in sheer, brightly-colored flats wear
that is designed to keep me cool on the hottest
of Florida's mid-afternoons. I love sight-fishing.
It's a hunting trip. There's no room for the
impatient; quiet stalking, watching and casting
to the quarry as you hold your breath in anticipation.
Then, just as you have made that perfect cast, the
fish sees the fly go through the air and he imagines
it to be an osprey high above him, and his instincts
tell him to run, run away. He's now gone from tailing
to Mach 3, just because he can. Or, the perfect cast
results in the thirty-pound class red chasing down
the small, shrimp-like fly; your heart is in your
throat; you strip, strip, strip...he nails it and
the drag of the fly reel is the only sound that
slams you back into reality.
Or just give me my five-weight fly rod, a poppin'
bug and my lake behind the house. Give me the sunrise
or sunset. Give me the serenity of a gentle fog rising
and the big bluegill boiling water under that little
Isn't it all the same? Isn't the purpose interchangeable?
Does it just have to be so damned complicated? After all,
it's just fishing; that may be true to someone that
doesn't understand all of its power. I have always
said; "A man's wallet is only connected to his brain
by his left arm." He will, at an instant, go from a
reasonable human being to a slobbering buffoon when
a new article of piscatorial importance is discovered.
Just think; when we are fishing, no matter if you
are standing in your cold-water stream, or you, in
your warm-water river, and me on my saltwater flat;
we are all connected physically by the water in
which we stand. But fishing is still very simple,
and should stay that way, just pure enjoyment. I
suppose that's the number one reason I stopped
guiding or running big, off-shore boats. The
enjoyment went away. It wasn't simple anymore.
When Linda and I got married, I taught her to sight
fish on the flats. She took to it like a duck on a
June bug. She became good at it in a very short
time and then re-taught me the most important thing
I had forgotten; the joy of fishing. She re-taught
me to stop looking in that one degree of the circle,
that degree was the target; the fish. She re-taught
me to look full-circle, to look at the sunrises and
the sunsets. My student had become my teacher. I'm
afraid I missed a lot of the other three hundred and
fifty-nine degrees as I looked for that illusive
target for the paying customer.
I have, once again, returned to simplicity. It's in
the form of the lake behind the house. I have returned
to my roots. I haven't stopped fishing my beloved
saltwater, I have just simplified it. And,
simplicity has returned my sanity and enjoyment.
The sanity part has been argued by others.
A strange and wonderful thing happened the other
evening. I gathered my fly rod, went down to the
lake, leaned my rod against an old pine tree and
sat down in the green chair at water's edge. I
stared out onto the lake at the rising fish. My
wife stared at me, unnoticed.
She finally asked, "Aren't you going to go fishing?"
My reply? "I already am." ~ 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.