Category Archives: Florida

Little Faces

The last thing you want to do is humanize them because they’re not looking at the world in the same way. But they are looking at you.

Others may think we treat them like toys with the hollering and fist bumps that ensue from hooking them but that’s not what we do.

The eyes are alive and maybe their brains don’t process us like facial recognition software but their photoreceptors still collect the light. I’m no scientist but I know these fish remember.

Possibly (hopefully), some day 15 years from now this baby tarpon will be far removed from the swamps and moving along the coast, and it will notice the potential food twitching in its face that looks a little bit like craft fur.

There’s the chance it will catch sight of your refracted profile rising from above the waterline, which will trigger an historical recollection of trauma, and it will pass.

And if you’d like, you can blame me for that.

Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat

The good thing about fly fishing for peacock bass is that it don’t cost nothin’ except for sweat and time.

I’m lucky that way in that when I’m down in South Florida I can find ways to expend both. It’s funny, though, how many people in Florida don’t break a sweat. They move down  for the weather and run from air conditioned cars to air conditioned houses or the restaurants that have their thermostats set at 64 degrees.

Another aspect of note is that, while driving through neighborhoods looking for new water, the farther you get from the coast the more oceanic the street names become. Nothing like being 50 minutes from the beach and headed west on Sea Breeze Lane.

I love it all, though. I’m useless for the winter things like steelheading but I can hang in a wilting corner of the Everglades all day long. If that’s the way the day goes down, it is a good day.

Enough Of Your Borax, Poindexter

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It’s not complicated. If you find the water and its surface temperature is in the 70s and the air temperature is in the 80s, they will be hungry. And if you cast  they will chase. And when they do that and you watch it go down in the shallows it sets off a wave of opioid polypeptide compounds that washes over your neuro-receptors, and you are happy.

Profiling Mr. Matthiessen

The 10,000 Islands are fantastical without the help of literary flourish but their significance, for me, has been amplified tenfold by the words of Peter Matthiessen in Shadow Country, his great work that combined the trilogy of Killing Mr. Watson, Bone By Bone and Lost Man’s River.

Matthiessen would be a giant based on the Watson trilogy alone, but  add in his collected works and life story, and you get something seriously heavy.

So I was thrilled that Chris E. passed along this profile from the New York Times:

Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing

Anyone For Tennis?

The ladyfish stupidly hovered in the vicinity, en mass, for an incredible length of time and stupidly chased anything that hit the water. And I stood there, stupidly, and cast to them. It was one of those situations where the hookup was preordained and no patience or skill or even thought was needed to make it so.

This happened during a trip to Florida last December and, knowing it was likely the last time I’d cast in 2013, it proved kind of cathartic.

And injurious.

Tennis elbow, according to the infallible WebMD, afflicts people in their dominant arm when they reach their 40s. That last little fact  makes me the most indignant, because even though I’m at the age where any professional athlete not using steroids is retired, I should be able to fish without consequence.

The elbow situation itself is a minor annoyance for the most part, except when trying to cast a fly rod. Or holding the rod while exerting pressure on a hooked fish. So I haven’t been doing it.

This is the longest I’ve gone without casting a fly rod since I first picked one up in 1994 or 95 or whenever. In its absence I’ve been doing some other stuff like:

Watching Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Watching Beware Mr. Baker

Playing air hockey.

Shoveling.

Not fishing has also made me realize that fly fishing has been my longest continuous indulgence into any one thing. As a kid I read all of Stan Fischler’s columns in Hockey Digest¹ and could name the backup goalie on every NHL team. In my teens I could spend hours stringing traditional pockets into lacrosse sticks and in college I knew by sound the 300 most obscure reggae bands² in the Western hemisphere. I also saw a bunch of jam bands a bunch of times so maybe that counts although those who are obsessed with jam bands are way more into them than someone who would mention it so casually in a one-off reference. (There are encyclopedias.)

Why fishing has had the most staying power, I don’t know. At what point does something we like to do build its own self-sustaining momentum? And at what point does the point of self-reflection about it become beside the point? There are a million other directions to go:


In the end I don’t really need to know why I need to do it³, or if I even need to do it, I just like to do it more than I like to do a lot of other things, and that’s enough. There’s no real reason to explain or justify a fishing injury or what  ladyfish are or why someone would stand around for unchecked amounts of time casting to them.

1. This was pre internet so you could only watch a game a week on the USA Network. Hockey Digest was the only other way to stay connected, but–as with anything–the lack of information allowed for more time to ruminate on the information available. For instance, it led to my long held belief that there should be a section called “best players with cool mustaches before mustaches were cool” in the hockey hall of fame. On the first ballot would be Charlie Simmer, Lanny McDonald and Michel Goulet.)

2. This band called Tishan we used to see all the time that was hailed as South Florida’s Premier Reggae Band might be the most obscure, if you’re keeping track. Then again it could be one of the early reggae djs named Tippa Irie.

3. As much as people like to call themselves “obsessed,” it’s not like you have a house of cats or need radical treatment for it.