Eye of the Guide

CHRISTMAS ON THE ST. SEBASTIAN RIVER

Tom Travis - XXX, 2010

"A Special night when there is more to fishing than catching fish"

I am a Montana fly fishing guide and I have been working the waters in Montana and Yellowstone National Park for thirty four years. My wife Krys was born and raised in Montana, as was our son Ryan. We have seen our fair share of beautiful and wonderful white Christmases. I have been coming to the Sebastian Inlet area for over twenty years and have thoroughly enjoyed the saltwater fly fishing that it offers. It wasn't until 2003 that we spent a Christmas in Florida along the St Sebastian River. We both discovered that a warm and green Christmas had a real appeal to us. Therefore we returned as often as possible to spend Christmas along the river in Florida. In 2008 we bought a place in Sebastian and became official snowbirds.

Christmas is for families and normally we spend it with our son Ryan and his wife Lindsey. However, this year it will just be the two of us, for the kids are both in Afghanistan serving with the 101st Airborne Division. Our son is a Captain and Company Commander, along with being a Command Pilot with the 6th Battalion Aviation. Our daughter-in-law, Lindsey is also a Captain, serving as the S-1 Officer, Headquarter Company, 5th Battalion Aviation. Both are graduates of West Point Military Academy. Does this sound like I am a proud father? If so, great - because I am.

I am proud of Ryan, Lindsey and all of the members of the Armed Forces who are serving their country, as I am proud of all those who have gone before them in service to our great nation.

Anyway, the fishing that day was exciting and fast and furious with both the Lady Fish and the Jacks being very aggressive. We had also taken a few nice Specs' and over by the Inlet we had caught two really nice Flounder, large enough to make a nice dinner for the two of us.  

Christmas on the St. Sebastian

We had enjoyed a delightful late afternoon meal of Salad, fresh grilled Flounder and home fries, topped off with coffee for me and a couple glasses of wine for Krys. As the sun faded into the west, the St. Sebastian River began to glow with Christmas lights. They glowed with a special twinkle as it was Christmas Eve. The night was warm and calm, the sky was clear and the stars dotted the heavens. Later there was a pretty full or almost full moon on this special night.

As we drifted along the St. Sebastian River we shared memories of all of the Christmas Eves we had spent together; and the fond memories flowed with us. As the evening progressed we moved back down to the Indian River to watch the parade of boats. The parade of boats is a Christmas Eve tradition around the Inlet area, where the people that have chosen to participate decorate their boats with lights and all sorts of Christmas decorations and move in a parade line up the Indian River and then back down. It is quite beautiful to see. I would like to be involved but alas, what I know about electronics is nil. Getting the boat decorated is one thing, getting the lights to work would be a whole other matter. However, just being a spectator is a lot of fun and very enjoyable.

After the parade was over, we wandered back up the St. Sebastian and decided to work our way back to the dock by fishing all of the lighted docks we encountered. The larger snook stayed away that evening, but the small snook were very aggressive. We caught some and missed others. I guess you are wondering what pattern we were using; why, the floating Santa Bugger, of course! What else would you use on Christmas Eve?  

Before we took the boat to the dock, we stopped and offered a prayer for the safety of all the men and women in the Armed Forces, whose duty keeps them far from home on this Christmas Eve.

As we drew near to the dock the river seemed to come alive with feeding snook. We caught several and missed a bunch more, but oh what fun. With this action we remembered how the year started with Ryan catching a fourteen pound snook on New Year's Day, 2010. With that, we reached the dock, trailered the boat and headed home to await the arrival of Santa.

At home, there was our tradition of reading the first Christmas story, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! With the passage of time, the memories of the fish taken will fade. But memories of that special Christmas Eve spent on the St. Sebastian and Indian Rivers will be burned into our memories as long as we are of this world.

Christmas day was bright, blue and seventy six degrees, with very little wind. The fishing was very pleasant during the afternoon. However a cold front moved in and we had cooler weather and wind for several days. The warm weather returned for the start of the New Year of 2011, but that is a story for another time.

So, from my Family to Yours
Have a very Merry Christmas
And a happy and joyous New Year
Enjoy & Good Fishin'
Tom Travis
St. Sebastian River, Florida

Update for 2011 - This year will be an old fashioned family Christmas with Lindsey, Ryan, Lindsey's parents and Krys & I, and next year, in March, there will be a new addition to the family as Ryan & Lindsey are expecting their first child. So this will be a Merry Christmas indeed!

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