Category Archives: Florida

Seth Myers’ Fake Or Florida

The working thesis is that both I-75 and I-95 feed into the state, so every person in the midwest and the northeast who’s ranging from slightly off to full-on just heads south until they run out of options. Seth Myers’ new bit taps into the evidence supporting that theory, the insane Florida news cycle.

The good thing about the skit, and the continuous stream of news reports that inspired it, is that now people will believe us–we being the people with Florida roots who share personal anecdotes of encounters in this vein, only to have others think we’re making this shit up. (We are not.)

You don’t even need dig deep to experience it, just drive down any stretch of Federal Highway until you come across a Denny’s. Spend 20 minutes inside after midnight and you’re good to go.

Counting

I used to count fish. Most probably do when they start fishing as a way to catalogue it, or for whatever reason. I stopped mostly after reading Longest Silence–if you did you probably know the exact passage about “trout number seven”–and also because it is a nonsensical way to record a fishing experience.

Looking back on my fishing journals, I recorded a day in the year 2000 where I caught 30 just-stocked brook trout on a river where I paid for a beat. Should that carry more weight than the trip that year down the Rio Hatiguanico in Cuba?  The one with the ornithologist  who served me rum and helped me hook  my first tarpon on fly? By numbers it does.

So I started counting days. In 2008 I recorded over 100 excursions with a fly rod and I knew with the birth of my first child that year that the pace would not last unless I moved to Florida and/or won the lottery. In 2013, I recorded 52. Once a week seems more than reasonable for someone in a northern locale with a full-time job and family, and who is not a guide.

Still, counting days is not a perfect math, either. The year in my head doesn’t add up to the numbers on the page–a notion my wife would find insane¹. Maybe it’s because I turned down as many invitations to fish as times I actually spent fishing–I am probably the king of the “Yeah sounds awesome oh wait I can’t” response. Maybe it’s because of the skunk days I withstood trying to force carp to like me. But likely it’s because much of my fishing time came in clusters or consisted of stolen moments².

Either way, in 2013 I got to be on the water in some of my favorite places in the world in both Florida and New York with some of my favorite people and also got to watch my two daughters catch panfish on little pink Ugly Sticks by the dozen. So, yeah, 2013 was good. And as the great Neil Young sings, “numbers add up to nothing.”

Happy New Year.

1. (And most likely is.)

2. (In the Wordsworthian “Spots of Time” vein.)

Contingency Plans

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A north, northeast wind with gusts to 30, even 40 mph can make the east coast of Florida an unpleasant place to be, especially outside the inlets. But there’s a lot of water to cover between the coasts, too, and there’s always a lee somewhere¹.

(1. I like ditches.)

Jumping Cues, Making Haste

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.

When Tarpon Aren’t

“Sure is pretty down here don’t you know.”I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House

Other things to do include snook, trout and Euchre until last call.

snook slr

The price of the plane ticket is supposed to be exchanged for silver but for a well-placed low pressure system that’s been given a Christian name.

An osprey swoops down low over the grass flats and spears a mullet and flies it across the vast bay to an island in the distance full of dead trees. Add watching this to the list of other things, as well as Bimini ring toss, eating, acoustic sets, ladyfish, mangrove snapper and rehydration.