OK, I gotta come up with better fishing songs then this quasi country-pop hit from the early 2000s but I’m lazy about titles.
Anyway, family fishing trip 2018 happened last Tuesday. It was a chilly (for Southern Florida) but sunny. Younes had to work but Mom, Matt and I headed out with Captain Houston around 8:30. The cool wind bit into our faces and the boat rumbled along and we shivered under jackets and sweats. But we ended up in the middle of shimmering water, far from signs of civilization. Houston prepped our rods and we cast them.
We got nibbles and a few too small to keep fish and then – bam. I reeled in a decent sized sheepshead.
Mom got the second sheepshead and it was a biggie.
I joked with Matt that if he didn’t start catching some fish he’d have to go without dinner. Well, he showed us up after we moved to a different fishing hole and he started catching trout after trout. He ended up catching the 5/8 fish we caught that day. I joked that he had earned not only his dinner but the next day’s lunch and dinner too.
The day was still mild and cool but the sun was out and warmed us. The weather could not have been more perfect. Mom joked that it was my turn to get one more but at that point I didn’t care. It wasn’t about the number of fish caught and obviously no one was concerned about “earning” their dinner – we’d all eat anyway. It was about the experience. The gentle sun and breeze, the birds skimming the surface of the water. The blue sky and green mangroves. That we only saw a handful of other little boats even though it’s busy season. The cold beer we drank on our way back to the dock. The hilarious sight of the pelicans fighting over the fish guts Houston would toss top them as he cleaned the fish. And partaking in a traditional but rapidly fading activity.
I asked Houston how many other guides there were. “About six.” I asked him if they were his age (middle aged) or if there were any younger ones. All his age or older. Most of the young people left the small fishing towns for college and better opportunities. They ones who stayed worked in tourism – but not as guides. Life for guides is difficult. Aside from normal expenses, the guides pay for their boats, gasoline, new motors, insurance, fishing equipment replacements, bait and whatever new technology (boat GPS, etc) that tourists expect these days. The summer season doesn’t bring much business because few want to be out when the heat index is 105 and a hurricane like Irma can take severely damage everything one owns. It’s no wonder young people don’t want that life but it’s always sad to see a way of life slowly disappear.
So if you ever get the opportunity to get out on a small, intimate fishing trip like this, make your guide’s experience as enjoyable as possible and PLEASE tip generously.