I began my fishing journeys when I was a mere
three years old. It all started with my dad
teaching me to squeeze a piece of light bread
into a dough ball and pinch it onto a size eight
hook. We were on the shoreline, or "bank" of Lake
Cannon in Winter Haven, Florida, four miles east
of where I grew up.
I can still smell the freshwater; the outboard
engine smoke, and I can still hear the sounds
of puttering outboards attached to the transoms
of old, then new, wooden skiffs.
I caught my first three-inch bluegill that afternoon.
With that little fish, a man who I called "Daddy"
for not nearly long enough, and I, began a journey
that I am still traveling today.
The journey has taken me far from home and returned
me safely many times. I have met many colorful folks
and have been lucky enough to call some of them "friend."
There have been a hell of a lot more good and happy
times than not. And, on the other hand, there have
been sad times, also.
One of the saddest times in my life was losing
the man who taught me right from wrong. He taught
me the rules of life. The rules of honesty and
dependability was his way of life, and I knew he
did his very best to teach me this, even though
he was a man of few words. He only had a third
grade education, but as time passed, I realized
he was one of the wisest men that ever graced
the face of God's green Earth. I still speak with
him, outloud mostly. He still teaches me lessons
I have yet to figure out on my own. His presence
is felt strongest when I am on the water, whether
salt or fresh. He is my guide. He will forever be
at my side.
One of the happiest times was a little over eight
years ago. I married my best friend, Linda. I had
no idea what was coming. I knew her for over three
years before any inkling of us ever becoming more
than just friends was thought possible. Boy was I
in for a surprise.
It is only fair that I introduce her to you. She's
the major part of my life; my equal and my soul mate.
Linda had never been in a boat, let alone sight-fished
for red fish, trout and other species of the salt.
She took to it like a retriever on a duck! I can't
get her to pick up a fly rod, but she out-fishes all
of my buddies, yeah, and me, with light tackle. We're
talking about fifty-three plus pound red fish on eight
pound tackle. But that's not all that impressive. What
impresses me is that I was her teacher; then, I became
her student. She taught me patience. Something I used
to have until I began running big boats and guiding on
the flats. Simply put, she taught me to "smell the roses,"
so to speak. I will be writing more about Linda in the
I must cover in this introduction what I hope to write
about. I really don't know yet. How's that?
I will make you some promises, though. I will never
intentionally hurt anyone's feelings. I promise to
write the same way I speak. I will write mostly from
the heart. I will write about good, ol' southern
cookin'. I will write about things that happen to me
that I think may amuse you, because they amuse me.
I will write mostly about life; about growing up
in central Florida before the plastic mice and ducks
with first names. However, I won't get "techy." I'm
not a fly fishing purist. I fish to catch fish. I fish
to empty out and clear my thoughts. I fish for
fellowship with my friends. I even keep a few fish,
from time to time, for supper.
So, sit back. Pull up a chair.
Welcome to the Florida I love...the Florida of "Back
Then, and Now."
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.