"You know Tim, the soul's just like an
Easter egg. Until some little kid dips it
in color, it's just a plain, old egg." Tim,
my first mate, and I were gathering dock
lines and stowing equipment after a good
day offshore chasing sailfish and dolphin
with three quite funny customers. They had
made our day.
On any given day, especially the days when
I ran the Huntress, the forty-eight
foot Buddy Davis sport-fisherman, a lot of
preparation and attention was given to the
boat, the gear, fuel, and any of the other
facets of operation for a safe and enjoyable
trip for the crew and customers. We had to
make the day count for the anglers, for one,
hoping for a return charter, and secondly,
and most importantly, to enjoy the day and
the company of each other. I never could
understand why a skipper and crew had to be
in a foul mood and display an unwritten rule
of rudeness to the folks that paid the bills,
and vice versa. Whether it was on my
eighteen-foot flats skiff, or other vessel,
I always saw it as a team effort between crew
and angler. This was a way of life, and still
is, and the color of the day should linger
forever in our souls.
Sure, there were customers who came and went.
Some we had a lot of fun with on the boats, and
when the sun was setting in the west, many times
I sat on the fly-bridge, or casting deck, staring
at another one of the Master's beautiful paintings,
reflecting on the day, asking myself the question;
Did I make the day count for that person, or persons?
Did we seize the day?
Life is capricious, disappearing right before
our very eyes. When we least expect it, that
special someone we expected to be where we
left them is gone. We never got to say what
we wanted to say to them face to face. As
David Brin once said, "Why must conversations
always come so late? Why do people always
apologize to corpses?" You may ask, what does
this have to do with fly-fishing? Everything,
it has everything to do with life
and living and fishing and being.
People walk into and out of our lives everyday.
Some of them become closer than others. I met
Johnny Walker back in 1997 through another
fly-fishing website. He had called me and wanted
to come to Florida to fish with me. I figured
he was another customer. I was wrong. John
became part of our family immediately. Seems
as though we shared the same ideals, goals and
thoughts on many different subjects, and as we
conversed on the way to the river, we realized
we were more alike than we could have imagined.
I spent part of this past weekend with John.
He's from Texas and works for a defense
contractor and, as luck would have it, the
Orlando office is working along with the
Texas office, so his trips have become more
frequent. I don't miss a chance to visit with
John. Some trips are spent on the water, some
not. But each and every time John comes down,
we spend golden times conversing about life,
enjoying food shared at our table, and we even
spend a little time fly-fishing with each other
either on the lake behind the house, or on the
We have often talked about death and what it
means to us. We both agree that when the time
comes for our departure from this place, we
want it to be a time of celebration of life.
And, in order for it to be a celebration of
life, we agree that we have to "live" life.
We have to breathe in the colors that surround
us. He and I were sitting out on the new pool
deck Saturday night watching another sunset.
I said I had missed too many of them, but I
swore I would stop in my tracks, whereever
I was, and never miss another one.
That same morning, as we drove around the
dike road that borders the Indian River,
the sun was just rising and we slowed down
to take in the waking of the river. This
has become tradition to me, and now to
John. The roseate spoonbills where everywhere
that morning, appearing more numerous than
usual. Their pink-coral plumage matched the
streaks of early-morning sunrise. The
alligators were out in abundance, seeking
to perhaps catch one of the snowy egrets
being a bit too careless. In the distance,
just over the water, an osprey caught a
glimpse of an unaware mullet and dove at
Mach speed to harvest breakfast for her
new babies that awaited her arrival from
their nest atop the old radio tower.
We fished that day in an angry river. Wind
caused us to force our back-casts as we waded
clear waters that were empty of red fish and
sea trout. And later we would laugh at each
other for having sore wrists and achy shoulders.
Another day not wasted, but spent adding color
to our souls.
As I have said before, it's been a rough
year loosing so many of our friends. But
we have only lost them in a physical sense;
we still have their spirit and their color
of life. They have added so much color to
our souls by their ability to live each
day if it were their last and sharing
their experiences and their lives with us.
I'm not sure how to end this story, other
than to say;
"Today is here now. Tomorrow isn't ours yet,
and may never be. The color is there. Seize
it, take it and add it to your soul, then
blend those colors talking, loving, sharing,
laughing and, sometimes, crying."
See y'all next week. ~ 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.