We talked about going out again to try the dock lights for snook but we didn’t. There’s this card game that midwesterners play called Euchre and it’s as addictive as fishing and we ordered more drinks at the bar and played that.

In the morning we purchased 10-dozen shrimp and threw the castnet over some greenies and netted some crabs and filled the livewell and headed out. Snook showed themselves along the mangroves as well as the old man-made structures from the phosphate era and they fought like snook are supposed to. I hooked one and pulled it away from the pilings but a dolphin was waiting and it grabbed hold and swam away and there was nothing my drag could do about it.

Trout came up from the grass flats and jack crevalle and even some hardheaded cats and snapper came out from the mangroves and out on the wrecks along with grouper. Something big took the reel down to the  last bit of line before it broke free and what else would it be but a goliath grouper?

The water looks green and blue and the incoming and dirty on the outgoing but it’s moving and there’s always a place to beach the boat and cool off.

When the afternoon storms roll in it’s important to be within running distance of a dockside establishment that puts up with anglers who may not have bathed in days. Scattered among the outposts in Pine Island Sound, there are many.

At sunset we jumped a tarpon and it breached the surface and we could hear people gasping and squealing on the other boats and we fought it for a while before it spit. That was good enough.

Sometimes it’s not about the gear you use or the fish you pursue but the people you are with that makes it. That, and getting really, really drunk.

The Art of Catch and Release


Save The River, the organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the St. Lawrence River, is offering the above pretty awesome Michael Ringer print to anglers who catch, then release their muskie.

That’s way better than a skin mount. Or pretty much anything you can do with a dead muskie.

Here’s the full story from Save The River.

You Are Now About to Witness the Strength of Quite Possibly the Greatest Movie Trailer Ever

Holy crap this could be awesome. Or not. Who knows whether there will be overacting or the created drama will be over the top but who cares? I’m part of the unintended audience of late-80s early-90s suburban kids who took to hardcore rap with an enthusiasm free of self awareness. We just liked it.

In reflection, there are probably sociological reasons for the suburban adolescent embrace of NWA that could be brought to bear by academic study, but my theory is this: teenage boys have a secret desire to be seen as a force with which to be reckoned. When your mother ushers you from point A to point B in a minivan, this is not in the cards. And when said adolescents finally find freedom via driver’s license, they are still chained to the minivan aesthetic–Mom owns your wheels and she left a tape of Christopher Cross in the cassette deck. In the absence of danger, the thing to be then is outrageous. Blasting Eazy Duz It out of the open windows of a Chevy Astro van could help achieve that¹.

But there was more to it than that. The beats were good. The rhymes were scathingly funny. The music had the raw power of metal without the cheese factor; it was–and still is–good².

Mike Judge, one of the best comic minds of that era, played on the suburban rap phenomenon in two of the most hilariously true scenes from his work:


Especially in the second video from 1:16 on…”Beavis, you’re a white wussy from right here.”

All of it, brilliant.


1. The best explanation for this is in Chuck Klosterman’s book I Wear The Black Hat and his discourse on 2 Live Crew. He said in a Rolling Stone interview, “It was ‘we’re going to see how far we can use language to sort of offend people or upset people.'”

2. Never mind the misogyny or gratuitous violence.


Sweat Equity

The land used to be pastureland, purchased by my father’s family in 1841 to graze dairy cows. In the early 1900s they converted it for recreation, building cottages along the banks of the river in sight of the rapids that existed before construction of the Seaway.

Two islands that were named for dad’s ancestors have been disappeared under the surface since the Authority raised the water levels for the shipping channel. A hazard to navigation buoy marks their presence.

My grandmother planted pine trees in the boggy land between the road and the river and they’ve grown tall in the decades and harbor deer and the occasional family of red foxes.

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A nesting pair of bald eagles has made a home in the islands across the river and loons come in the spring before the boat traffic gets too heavy. Wild turkeys run on the islands too and when the great blue herons spread their wings overhead they look like flying dinosaurs.

The water is as clear as it has ever been and you can see the pike waiting in ambush or the bass hugging structure by the dozens or  the giant carp or the chub schooling on the shoals like bonefish. Put in the time, you think, and they’ll be there. They’ve adapted and survived over the centuries but you can never shake the feeling that at any moment one doomed freighter can take it all away.

Going Sideways

There is always that moment, upon first contact, where it feels like it’s going to be a much bigger fish. These panfish with their broad profiles are wont to do that, to turn against the pull and create drag…like a drift anchor. The Mayans down in Florida do it and then they wedge their bodies into the weedy growth on bottom and it’s like pulling a stuck Danforth. Hope the knot’s 100 percent because it’s a shame to lose a fly to a bastard little widebody.

Overall, going sideways would be a pretty good life lesson if you’re inclined to think of it that way…fight the power in panfish metaphor. I’m not so inclined; I’ll take the jumping bass and whatever meaning goes with that.

Go away or I'll shall taunt you by jumping a second time.

How To Make Cuban Coffee

The convenience store at the gas station had an aromatic little kitchen tucked into the corner, behind the registers, so there was no way to resist buying an empanada.

I have heard two working theories about the prevalence of spices in meat dishes of tropical origin. But whether the spices harbor antibiotic properties or trigger cooling perspiration seemed beside the point: I’d already built a sweat from walking the canal perimeter.

peacock water
Hit them where they live.

I like to fish the culverts and the dead ends where the water is a mirror that shatters upon impact, after the fish jumps out of it to escape what’s fighting against it only to be pulled back under by gravity. Five minutes later it is a mirror again. (Thank the miracle of surface tension.) The next interruption comes from the far gentler landing of a size two ensconced in craft fur. It causes tiny ripples to pulse outward in concentric circles.

Fresh water is the most under-appreciated aspect of the Florida experience. (They wanted to drain the entire swamp in the 19th century, the sonsabitches.) But there’s also food. Key lime pie made with real key limes, moros y cristianos, ropa vieja, country grits and collard greens, Bahama bread and cracked conch and grilled pompano that your neighbor gave you.

The trick to Cuban coffee is the espuma–the foam they make with sugar and a little just-percolated espresso. This little cafe next to a barbershop in Miami Beach makes it perfect. They pass it over the counter with four plastic shot glasses but I just drink it straight from the styrofoam cup.


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