Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

July 24th, 2006

Messin' Around

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
Well, I thought the big deck was finished, and now I could fish the flats all day, return home, jump in the pool and sit on our new deck and grill up some shrimp. Guess I was wrong! I swear, Linda's going to be the death of me.

This new deck is a "two-stage" type of gizmo. The lower part is eight feet by twenty feet, then it steps up six inches onto another landing that is twelve by fifteen feet. The larger part was to be the "kitchen and dining" part (according to the boss) and the lower section was for the lounge chairs and a couple of small, wrought iron tables for drinks, and such. But give my lovely bride fifteen seconds of idle time and my fanny's in major trouble. Being that said...

I'm not a carpenter! There, I've said it on the world wide stinkin' web! My dad was, I ain't! I said it again. But now I am, so says Linda. Okay, let me back up a little.

The way I see it, Linda has about ten-thousand little cog wheels in her head. She's always thinking, and usually thinking of how to move something in the house, build something in the house, tear something out of the house... and it goes on and on and on. Not a problem, you say. Wrong! All of her self-motivated innovations directly affect the Flats Dude, 'cause I'm the one who's designated to do the manual part of her design, or redesign efforts.

Back when Linda thought of wanting this new deck, I explained to her, "I AIN"T A CARPENTER!" She never heard me, nope, just didn't register within all those cog wheels of hers. But after several long conversations, the last one being with Dad down by the lake asking him for his assistance, I built Linda's new deck, and I must say I did a pretty dad-gone good job of it, too! So, it's finished, there's a new skiff sitting out there just waiting to hit the flats, and I'm all for it, right? Wrong! Oh yeah, Linda bought me one of those huge, stainless steel, gas grills for finishing her deck, and for my Father's Day gift. Not bad, but I had always used charcoal and wood. And you ask, "What's he talking about now?" I'll tell you.

The grill is a nice one. Five burners, a side burner, rotisserie, underneath storage for all the goodies, you know, the ones you see in the big hardware stores. Seems there ain't enough room on that new deck for my gas grill and her future outdoor dining table with the umbrella and the six chairs, plus a new Weber charcoal grill for back-up. Guess who's building an eight by eight foot extension on the new deck this weekend? Kinda figured you would get it right! Yep, me!

But what about the new skiff and all the redfish, and the new reel and rods? I have used them. Seriously, I have. I told y'all that a couple of weeks ago, remember? Let me tell y'all about one trip in particular. Y'all might get a kick out of this.

Dwayne Crumity is a friend of mine from work. I introduced him to flats fishing around five years ago, and even though Dwayne is not a stranger to fishing, he had never been sight fishing before. He caught his first and second redfish that day, and one was a very nice fifteen pound fish. Unfortunately, I never got to take Dwayne back to the flats.

After I got the new skiff all rigged out and broke it in a few times, I invited him to go a few weeks ago (just after the new deck was finished, well, I thought it was finished). There's only one problem with Dwayne. He won't wade. I reckon he thinks that just because there's a ten-foot gator that lives where I fish, the mean old gator is gonna seek him out and have him for lunch.

As Dwayne and I poled the eastern shoreline of the Indian River at first light, I saw at least fifteen redfish tails in a circle of no more than six feet. I pointed them out to him and told him if we got out of the boat and waded up to them, the pressure of the boat's hull wouldn't alert the fish and we could cast to the sides of the school and pick them off. He wouldn't have it. Now folks, this water is only a foot deep and is as clear as tap water...nope, he would look like a cat being shoved in a bathtub!

I eased the skiff in position and told Dwayne to cast and I would cast behind him. I hooked up, he didn't, but when my fish blasted out of the school, at least four hundred reds rose up from the shallow water and spooked. I hadn't seen a school that big in years. Of course, I was just excited to have witnessed the event.

Later on that morning, the temperature had soared to the upper 90's and with no breeze and him not being used to that kind of heat, I decided to call it a day.

So, you ask, what's the point of this entire essay? Nothing really. Other than I probably won't fish this weekend, I'll be digging holes to set the posts for the new part of the deck and trying my best to wear out a perfectly good drill putting in another mess of screws in the deck boards. I have to look at the bright side, though. The more deck that gets added, the less grass I have to mow. And maybe, just maybe, that will free up a little time to fish.

Oh ya, here's the finished (for now) cook deck.

'Til next time. ~ Flats

About Gary:

Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area. After moving a little closer to the coast, his interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."

He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the waters will ever be present.

Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater patterns in the early '90's and has participated as a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting and tying instructor and stained glass artist, creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.

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