Essays

A Bonefish Encounter

The water that had drained off the mangrove flat with the ebb had left the uneven, algae-covered  bottom exposed to air. Even as the tide turned to flood, small rivulets continued to drain the depths of the mangrove-covered, limestone flat. The soft light of early morning combined with an overcast sky to cast a cloak of grey. The strong winds that had been rising with the sun each day were light enough in the early morning that the short mangroves cast a wind shadow over the leeward shoreline. More>

 

 

 

Home Waters

I don't think home water has to be a specific place, but rather the sum of all places where a person is most comfortable fishing. Perhaps I say this because I've fished a variety of places and different types of water. Maybe home water is just a certain type of water - fast moving river or still pond, an estuary or rocky shoreline; a type of water that makes a person feel at home. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I remember going on many camping trips in my native Maryland and it's neighboring mid-Atlantic states while growing up. My parents often took the family camping, and fishing was almost always a part of the trip. I started out small, fishing for bluegills along the banks of a tidal river that eventually ended in Chesapeake Bay. The particular spot I am thinking of was at a state park campground, and not far from the road that wound among the camp sites. There was a tree, oak I think, that was its own little island, with a moat around it, separating the island from shore. It seemed a vast cavern of river bottom between the bank and tree island, but my guess is that now it would be barely a long step from shore to island. At low tide, the space between the tree and shore was exposed, and probably a foot deep. More>

Mornings

I hate mornings. I really do. I can't say I hate them with a passion because I don't have enough energy in the morning to be passionate about anything. Walking a straight line can be tough. I usually stumble around a bit before getting the autopilot in gear, but apparently I can have coherent conversations. I know this is true because sometimes, later in the day, a fishing buddy brings up a point I apparently made in one of these early morning conversations. I usually just nod and agree, having no idea what he is talking about. It's rare that I get called on it. I've always assumed the occasional bumps on my forehead are from walking into a doorjamb on the way to the bathroom in my dawn stupor, but now that I think about it, maybe I said something that pissed someone off and don't remember paying the price for the snide remark. More>

 

The Defective Gene

In these days of cutting edge genetic research - mapping the human genome, identifying which genes do what, gene therapy and the rest - I'm sure we could be tested for it. The defective gene. The gene that causes us to see a light and think it’s the end of the tunnel, but everyone else sees that it’s a train coming straight at us. Or to find hope in the face of certain doom. Eternal optimism. You know the type. And don’t pretend that you’re not one of ‘us’. If you fish with a fly rod, you definitely qualify to be on of ‘us’.

We'll stay on the water into darkness, certain that the next cast will find that monster fish, even though the water has been empty of signs of fish life all day.  I’ll readily admit that I am afflicted – I've walked miles of beach in a day in search of fish that I just knew should, would, had to be there, and returned home tired and fishless, only to do it all again.  More>

When Time Stops

And then time stopped. Everything suspended in place. And with it, a suspension of disbelief. Gravity didn’t exist, and light stopped traveling. For an instant, since there was no time, light could not travel, and so the image stayed frozen – but continued to exist, alive. And because light did not travel, and could not disappear into space, everything was clear. No soft edges. No blurs of motion. Every detail crisp and clean. Magnified. More>

 

Lights in the Rearview

When you fish with a guide or a lodge, you are fishing their schedule. It might be just a standard schedule – most lodges, for example, tend to fish a standard day, usually 8am to 4 or 5pm. When I fish on my own, I tend to fish according to tide and visibility. Visibility for sight fishing is best during mid-day hours, of course, but tide can cause some of the best fishing times to be near dawn and dusk. I'll never pass up an opportunity for a quality day of sight-fishing on the flats, but I will often add hours to the fishing day to fish a low tide that occurs near dawn or dusk. More>

 

Getting There

I arrived at Glenn’s house for the ride over to the Miami airport to meet Doug and continue over to The Bahamas. As I was loading my stuff into Glenn’s truck, he opened his pack to make sure he had his tickets and passport. That gave me the instant realization that I had left my passport sitting on the kitchen counter at home. There wasn’t time for me to go home and back to Glenn’s so I sent Glenn on his way to make sure at least one of us made the trip, while I drove back home to get my passport.

The drive from my house to the Miami airport takes approximately 3 hours if traffic cooperates. Hit a backup from a traffic accident, however, and it can take all day. Really, no exaggeration. I’ve never lived in a place that has so many major highway wrecks that shut down traffic for hours. More>