Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

March 21st, 2005

Yer Gonna Put Yer Eye Out!

By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson
Being born and raised in the south, I was subjected to a lot of sayings my folks, and others, uttered to me that made about as much sense as a side-saddle on a sow pig. See, there's another one of those little anecdotes. These same sayings may have been used by northern parents, also. However, I wouldn't know that since I've only visited as far north as Ohio.

Okay, let us analyze the little phrase I just mentioned. "A side-saddle on a sow pig." Although it would be quite amusing to see a saddle on a pig, no matter the gender, it would be an event that I probably wouldn't buy a ticket to watch.

As long as we are on the subject of sow pigs, here's another that took me a long time to i nterpret. "It's like makin' a silk purse from a sow's ear." When an adult rattles off something to a kid of five or six, it is taken very literal in the child's mind…we have to be careful saying things to a kid. I have seven grandkids and I should know full-well, by now, these kids think in pictures. What we say to them is taken exactly as what we say. Am I makin' sense here? Okay, think in picture form; forget about being an adult for a few minutes. I know it's hard, but stay with me.

A pig with a brown, leather saddle being ridden by an adult with the left ear missing from said pig, and the rider has this nasty pig's ear hanging over their shoulder, adorned with silk, gold beads, and…I'm losin' it. Way too much caffeine this morning!

The most all time favorite thing a southern adult says to a child is; "Yer gonna put yer eye out!" Now that's a statement that will conjure up images in a kid's mind that can produce nightmares late at night, or the rest of their life. I'm sure this quote is spoken in all modern languages of the world, and probably used back in the middle ages.

Of course, I know why parents say this now. Heck, I whipped it out on one of my grandkids as early as this weekend. He was runnin' around the yard with a stick for Pete's sake! (There's another...who's Pete, anyway?) What else would I, or anyone else, have said? He just looked at me with that "huh" look and kept right on doin' what he was doin'.

Back when I was twelve, or so, we never worried about anyone kidnapping kids, or causing harm to us. My mom and dad pretty much let me go anywhere as long as I was back home before dark.

I set out on one of my fishing trips to Lake Mattie that was not too far from home. I loaded up my trusty bicycle with some bread, a cane pole, hooks and split-shot. I arrived at the lake, which at that time, was surrounded by orange groves. The bread was supposed to be used for dough balls to catch catfish or bream; I probably ate the bread because I remember quickly running out of bait.

It was the hottest part of summer, and I was out of school. I started looking for any type of bug or worm to be sacrificed to the fish. I managed to find some poor dragonfly, captured it and quickly impaled it on my size eight hook.

I remember standing on an old cypress tree that had fallen into the lake and flipping the hook, line and sinker next to the stump of the tree. My rig consisted of a twelve foot cane pole, a length of eight pound test mono line, a cork, a split shot and the hook. Oh yeah, the dragonfly.

As soon as the cork settled, it shot under the water and I reared back on the pole. A mouth the size of Godzilla's came from under the log and the bass relentlessly tried to shake my arms from my body via the cane...for about three seconds. The hook broke off, and the split shot, sharply and instantly, nailed me right between the eyes. I can still feel that! It was like being shot with a pellet rifle! After my eyes stopped watering, I figured I had had enough of that bass, and I imagined he was surely holdin' his sides and laughing as he waited under the stump for the next unsuspectin' idiot to go bear huntin' with a twenty-two!

I returned home and my mom immediately freaked out when she saw my goose egg and red whelt between my still watering eyes. My dad pushed my head back, took a look, gave me that famous smirk, shook his head and said,"Yer gonna put yer eye out." ~ 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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