The guide had the boat staked off on a flat on the edge of I-275 and the angler on deck stood poised to cast.
I don’t know if he actually did because I was driving southbound at 70 mph. Whoever they were, that’s the farthest they got into my visual memory–a split second freeze frame through the passenger window.
Still, If I hadn’t seen them…
Traffic paced up to 80 mph and I had somewhere to be and the water disappeared from view but the idea of me being on it didn’t. I had a brief but less menacing wander along the lines of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.
The hard part of being a fisherman is the not fishing. Which sounds a little self-inflicted and absurd on the face of it. Sometimes having had the experience is enough of a thing, like watching the great migration in Kenya or checking out the gargoyles of Chartres. Sometimes something you did in the past, like high school football or geometry, stays locked in that place and you don’t mind.
But fishing brings the irrational desire to be doing it when you shouldn’t be, and the dangerous speculation that you’d be happiest doing it at all times.
When I start to think that way I’m drawn back to “Some Remarks,” the opening essay of Thomas McGuane’s The Longest Silence:
“Worst of all are the lamentations of the angler who has given himself entirely to the the sport and feels that sportsmen up for the week or the season only to return to jobs or family don’t understand him.
I’m afraid the best angling is always a respite from burden. Good anglers should lead useful lives, and useful lives are marked by struggle, and difficulty, and even pain.”
Even so, it doesn’t always stick. Especially in Florida.
So against better judgment, I pressed down the gas pedal and guided the rental car into the fast lane, and cycled through a few more scenarios that would put me on the water, and not that fucker on the flats who by now was probably deep into a 40-inch redfish.