Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

March 7th, 2005


By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
He flies above the lake screeching and searching. Seeming unsettled, he voices his impatience in shrill calls. Spring is coming my friend, and I feel your anxiousness.


I sit down by the lake behind the house and watch the water. I know the same fish swim there that you seek from your high advantage. But, we must wait. They are there, just not ready as yet. Where are they? Deep and hiding. You are hungry and must eat for sustenance. I am hungry to fill my soul's need to cast into waters that are still too cold. Spring is coming.

Robin Robins have invaded the yard and ferret out worms and bugs. I watch from the front room's window. The new, small green buds have begun to burst through the cambium, signaling the onslaught of exploding growth of the new season. It just isn't quite here, but we begin to stir.

The young mallards have now grown and paired. The drake is adorned in metallic greens and shows definite interest in the brown hen. He's a handsome one. She ignores him, looking away as he courts. She teases and swims off, looking into the waters of the lake, but keeps a flirty glance to the rear, making sure he doesn't loose interest.


Squirrels have been showing up again. They seem to yawn as they scurry to the backyard feeders in search of peanuts we have left for them. They fuss and flitter around, then run away as quickly as they appeared when the hawk strafes the openness of the side yard looking for them. They flatten themselves against the oak and pine bark. When he leaves, they curse him for his stealth. He hasn't been successful, so far.

Peach Buds

The peach tree is coming out. She has decorated herself with beautiful, light and golden-green leaves and contrasting, double-pink blossoms, then she seductively dances in the breeze, alone and desirable. No one watches her, but me. I long to taste her fruit of summer. We have a date, unless the squirrels find her first.

I notice the distant sound of a lawn mower as the guy across the lake tries to rush the season into coming too quickly. The smell of newly mown grass perfumes the air, but he's premature in his efforts, and the meager spits of cuttings aren't impressive. The smell is nice though, and takes me back to a youthfulness of prior springs when I walked behind my dad and tried to match his giant stride he left for me in the fresh, grass clippings. I linger in those thoughts for a while.

The signal has yet to come, but I check the neighbor's orange tree for the first signs of new blossoms anyway. I want the blooms to come and fill the air with the sticky-sweet aroma; intoxicating the honey bees, intoxicating me and then, in an instant, Mother Nature will give the bluegills her nod to commence with the fanning of the beds and the copper-headed breams will come to front stage and blast the Accardo Spooks from their nesting areas in the shallows of the lake behind the house. I long for the orange blossom's March redolence.


A flash of red flicks by me, and the male cardinal settles amongst the sprouting buds of the oak, then cocks his head in my direction. Questioning looks come from his tiny, dark eyes as I hear him call to her. She answers from across the street, not too far way. They know what's coming, and they seem as anxious as I do for that magical instant of a new beginning to spark. I watched them last year, and I'm glad they came home to us. The pair is just another of the many facets of proof that spring is nigh.

The squeak of the wooden gate contains a certain musical richness, as I return to the backyard. Its sound reminds me of the past spring, and the voice of the gate's hinges have completeness; sounds that are worn and not so new; a familiar calling that needs to be there in that particular gate, and I refuse to quiet it with oil.

Again, I lift my gaze upward. He's back and is calling for the fish to rise as his mate carries a large branch to sturdy up last year's nest. He pauses fifty feet and remains motionless above the smooth lake. His wings fold back behind him, and he interrupts the silence as he pierces the film. I wish for his success, and he proudly shakes off the water and exits the lake with a nice bass. His mate cheers him, and so do I.


Spring is coming, and we are anxious.

See y'all next week. ~ 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.

Previous Flats Dude Columns

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice