Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

January 30th, 2006

Weather Or Not, Or Something

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
Remember me? Yeah, I know, it's been a while. But there are a few reasons...or excuses.

There's a saying down here. "If you don't like the weather in Florida, stick around for a few minutes, it'll change." And boy howdy, does it ever! I've lived here all my natural-born life, and I gotta tell ya, I ain't seen nothin' like it this last six months. Talk about throwin' a monkey wrench into my already hectic life!

I'm a fair weather fisherman. Yep, I decided that all on my own a few years ago. When I was younger, I was like the old-style mailman. Not sleet, nor hail...you know. Not that I know what sleet or snow is, but I dang well know what hail and rain is. Nothing, but nothing would keep me from a fishin' trip. I would run the skiff, or anything else, for that matter, happily into the bone-chilling, early morning air, freezin' my tail off, tears runnin' from the corners of my eyes, hands becoming a permanent fixture of the stainless steel wheel at the boat's center console. I laughed at the miserable conditions. 'Course, it took me the rest of the day to thaw out, but at least, I was fishing!

So what if it's raining cats and dogs, there ain't no lighting! Load up, let's go, fish might be bitin', we'll dry out later! So I'd stand out there, soaked to my skivvies, waiting for Mr. Snook to clobber whatever I had attached to my line, and all day, I might add. Nothing kept me from my fishin'!

Whoa! Time out! Sorry, how was your Christmas? Did Santa bring you what you wanted? He did? Well far out. I got a new pickup truck! A real one! Nice, shiny black, Ford F-150 XLT. It's a nice truck, but it did come with a little payment book from the bank. But still, the "black beast," as I fondly call it, well, we are now as one. Heck, it's even got a little back seat for my fly-rods.

And I totally missed out on all New Year's celebrations. So, Happy New Year to you all! We didn't do squat. Fell asleep around ten pm, then we were blasted out of bed by all the folks around the lake behind the house blowin' up the neighborhood with atom bombs! Funny thing about my home state. I reckon the gub'ment tries their best to protect all of us buffoons down here. Some states allow fireworks, and I ain't talkin' about those little poof-box things that blow smoke, deliver a five-second shower of sparks and pierce your eardrums with a whistle. I'm talkin' about those twelve-inch projectile things that launch out of a yard of stove pipe and provide a brilliant and colorful display of sparkle ten or twelve miles above the surface of the Earth and the "kaboom" that comes with it causes NORAD to scramble jetfighters in the direction of Deltona, Florida, USA! Yeah, now that's what I'm talkin' about! But down here they are illegal...sorta!

Seems like some ingenious folks over on the east coast found a slight loophole in the good ole gub'ments party-poopin' law concernin' our all-American right to blow stuff up with fireworks! If we are "farmers," and are willin' to sign a little piece of paper sayin' we are, and our sole purpose is to scare off varmints out of our 'mater patches, well shoot, we can buy a pickup truck load of A-bombs to light up the night skies to scare off them crows out in the corn field! Seriously, I never could figure out why it's against the law to buy fireworks in Florida, when anyone can drive to Tennessee and buy stuff that will take out an A-10 Warthog!

Let's see, I was speaking of the weather, wasn't I? Fishin' the flats has definitely spoiled me. I like it still and calm, absolutely no hint of even a slight breeze. When the water is like a sheet of glass, I can spot a dimple on the surface a mile away. Casting the old nine-weight is effortless, and to watch a big redfish streak in toward my sub-surface fly, well, that'll get the old ticker to racin'. I also like it warm. I understand you northern and western folks don't understand this, but my thermostat is around eight-six degrees. Below seventy-five I start to hibernate. See, I told you wouldn't understand. You were born to the north; you're used to being a Popsicle. Nope, not me. But come down here in the summer, and I'll laugh as you have to deal with the humidity. I love it!

What else? Let's see. I went to the doctor for my check up and blood test deal. All those steaks, shrimp and stuff finally caught up with me. On Friday the 13th, I found out I have level II diabetes. Talk about puttin' a cramp in my lifestyle! It's been two weeks ago now. I don't know how much more grilled salmon and chicken I'll be able to consume, but at least they didn't make me take any pills or shots! I reckon that's okay. Linda does a lot of research for me, and has managed to find some interesting recipes I've been messin' with, but none of 'em yet have tasted like barbequed ribs and 'tater salad. We can go to Pluto, but the "special" diet still tastes like a Styrofoam cooler.

Speaking of Linda, I think she's trying to put me in an early grave. She wants me to build a deck just off the new pool. Yep, a fourteen by thirty-nine footer with multi-levels. That means about a million pilings for support, and you know who will be at the business end of the posthole digger, me! She said it's good exercise. I ain't for sure.

I got off on another tangent didn't I?

My fishing has all but stopped with this silly weather. Today it's going to be in the mid-eighties, but the water temps are still in the upper fifties. That's no good for reds and such. They're still in the deep cuts and channels, and just when they think it's safe, a cold front comes through and it drops to the lower thirties, and along with the front are twenty-five knot winds. Try casting in that stuff!

NASCAR will be crankin' up in the next few weeks. Been having withdrawal symptoms since last November. I ain't much on football, but I'm proud to say I've watched all of the playoff games. What happened to the halftime shows? I really looked forward to the entertainment, but listenin' and watchin' a handful of retired football players during the break just doesn't cut it! 'Sides, I can't eat any chicken wings and curly fries during the games, only celery sticks. That's no fun!

Okay, I've gotten you all caught up on what's been going on with me down here in Florida. I'll start fishin' pretty soon, I hope. Until then, I'll go have a rice cake and celery sandwich.

If you're coming down for the Florida Fish-In in March, we look forward to meeting you - or seeing you again.

'Til next time. ~ Capt. Gary

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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