As I poled the little skiff with Ian, my oldest grandson,
and his dad Pete aboard, around the flats looking for that
one special red fish, I thought about Dad and me. A peaceful
melancholy set in, not in a sad way perhaps, but in a way
that silenced the birds and other marine noises that I look
so forward to hearing on my waters of the Indian River. My
thoughts took me back to yesterday when I was nine, and the
excitement of the fishing trips my dad would take me on.
I seek counsel from my wife Linda now and again. She's
brilliant when it comes to the minds of children, I'm not.
I never had any kids of my own, but inherited Linda's two
daughters, and later, seven grandkids that would eventually
come along. April and Pete having four boys and Wendy having
two boys and a little girl, the last born. Linda has a way
of taking me back to my youth and reminding me how to see.
Too often I get wrapped up in the adult that I think I'm
supposed to be.
I had left Ian at home the week before, as his dad and I
fished the flats. I knew his feelings were hurt, I could
see it in his eyes when we returned with our stories.
Something I knew, deep down, that had to be corrected;
a wrong that had to be righted. There's nothing worse than
hurting ones feelings, especially a child, nothing. But as
the next weekend approached and they came to our house, I
hesitated in inviting the boy to go, after all, this was
serious fishing, and teaching Pete to handle the skiff
wasn't going to be an easy task. I believe my dad's spirit
gently nudged me in the direction where I knew I needed to
go, were I had to go. And Linda's lesson allowed me to reach
through that invisible curtain that separates the physical
world from the other side where the wisdom of our foregoers
haunt and yet remains within our reach as we need it.
I walked down to the shoreline of the lake behind the house.
That's where I usually find him. He waits there at times
when I need to ask him for reminders of lessons he once was
able to teach me in person, but through the eyes of a boy I
never understood, or didn't pay attention to.
Clearly I could see myself in my youth. I could feel my
excitement of the upcoming fishing trips. I felt the fear
of making a mistake that could disappoint my dad. But now
I had understanding. Dad was never disappointed; his fears
were the same as mine are now. Being able to see from both
sides enabled me to visit yesterday through the eyes of
today, and more importantly, the eyes of a child.
When they arrived, I took Ian outside to be alone and talk.
The wisdom and understanding of a nine-year-old is incredible.
I explained to him this would be the first of many trips to
these waters I call home. It was time to set tradition, not
only with Pete, but him. The same tradition that was given
to me by Dad when I came of age to understand our waters,
and all that belonged to them. It was time to learn respect,
not of me, but that which surrounds us.
My concentration wasn't on the glistening and clear waters
of the lagoon as I pushed the skiff southerly. I was back
in that old, wooden skiff and my concentration was on that
brown, cork bobber anxiously awaiting the sudden hit of a
bluegill. I could smell the musty waters of the lake and
feel the warmth of a summer's morning sun. I could hear
Dad's voice as he spoke ever so quietly to me, coaxed me
to listen to the sounds of the silence. It was yesterday
once more, where tradition was being born.
'Til next time. ~ Capt. 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.