A tale of tails, brooms that sweep at the sky, telling V’s or bronzed backs glimmering as they hump the surface of the water. Two young men lower a canoe from a sea wall in an abandoned lot somewhere on the Space Coast. They push the vessel through inland ponds created by mangrove trees, oyster bars and a dropping tide.
Somewhere else they ride the incoming tide through back water creeks and coves, where fresh and salt shake hands and the estuary is filled with tannic dye. These are the places that make the rest of the week bearable, and this is the method that keeps them fit. This is the speed of nature, and if the canoe is too fast or the winds too strong, then they tie it off and wade. As the sun postures them, they throw on caps or wrap their shirts around their head, and for relief they take a swim as they wait for tide to change again.
This is a flash back to when I had just moved back to Florida from the mountains. I lived with my brother Peter and sister-in-law Lindsay. On the weekends Pete and I would hit the coast, but when we worked on the road we also carried rods in the truck. In Boca Raton we would catch Snook after dinner and in Orlando we would pull in beside the many lakes.
But...on our days off we would often head back to the lagoons we grew up fishing. It was nice to see these old pics, and the redfish where I am wearing the pullover was a special one. It was winter and the water was clear in there like it hasn’t been in sometime since, and you could see this school of reds perfectly.
We were trying to be cautious so they wouldn’t spook, but then some jerks in what was probably a 40,000 dollar set up, decided to cut between our canoe and the reds with their boat. They spooked them and Peter and I were not as nice back then so we said some things, but their boat was much faster than our canoe, so I waited, and they scared the school once again.
Now the reds were coming back in our direction, so we kept still and I tossed a D.O.A.
shrimp as lightly as I could about 15 feet ahead of them. My line went straight, I set the hook and the golden one took us for a ride. This was around the time they had those special credit card commercials on tv and so I yelled to the two arrogant blokes in the flats boat, “a borrowed canoe, 200 dollars in fishing gear, but beating the guys in the 40,000 dollar boat, who had no manners and thought they were so important, now that is priceless.”
They made some gestures with their hands and took off, but I will never forget that fish. I only wish that the grass would grow back and the water would be clear in their again.
It wasn’t long after that that I met the love of my life and we started buying less fishing gear and more diapers, but I’ve been able to show them some of these places and will hopefully take more trips. It goes by fast.