BSwan (Bob) posted a questioning thread on the Bulletin
Board last week. It concerned music we might possibly
listen to as we fished our favorite waters. For some
reason, I immediately thought of Betty Hiner. Betty and
I have spoken a few times through emails and once on the
phone, and just through these brief correspondences, I
think I have a little insight on her personality. Here
was Betty's response.
"I listen to the music every time I fish. The music
of the water in the riffles, the birds calling, the wind
through the trees, kids laughing, and the fish jumping
and slapping the water on reentry."
Just what I expected from our Betty. This put me to thinkin',
and lately I ain't been doin' much of that. I immediately
emailed Betty and agreed.
I'm not a religious man, spiritual maybe, at least. But
getting close to Nature through her music has always led
me to believe there is more to those sounds than just
One thing I never allowed on any of my boats, whether a
skiff or an offshore monster, was a blaring radio that
would easily mask the calming sounds of the saltwater
flats, or a quiet, fog laden lake, or the vast secrecy
of the deep-blue Atlantic Ocean.
I grew up fishing for bass, bluegill, and other sweet-water
species, and Dad never had any artificial sounds disturbing
his peace and quiet. Well, with the exception of my squeals
of youthful excitement if I happened to hang into a "nice one."
But come to think of it, maybe that was his "music" as I allude,
once again, to a part of Betty's post, "kids laughing." Their
laughter is music, and as silly as it may sound, I'm
self-entertained by my own laughter at times, that inner child
thing. Besides, if I hook into a "nice one," is there anyone
around that would hear me? Perhaps...perhaps Dad is still
listening from over there.
Early morning is a miracle. Poling my skiff just before
sunrise, clouds turned rosy-gold and gray. The roseate
spoonbills, in their entire pink splendor, would begin
to gather with the great white and blue herons, the snowy
egrets, on the grassy shallows searching out breakfast in
the quiet of the early morning. The territorial disputes
sent a loud squawk because of the violation of another's
fishing grounds. Mullet launched themselves from the smooth
film of the brackish waters and the splashes added to the
rhythm of the river's waking.
Offshore, the Huntress' twin voices growled just below in
the engine room; not heard so much as felt, and pelicans
glided just above my bridge as if they enjoyed the rumble
of her engines. The hissing of salty spray as it is cast
out from beneath her voluptuous and curvy bow, then meeting
the smooth surface of deep, blue water, "shhh, shhh, shhh."
And again, the laughter of the anglers as they anticipate
the day's excitement and of what it may bring. The crackle
of the VHF radio was often tuned down, or off, as to not
interfere with the morning's sounds as I listened to a
thousand trips previously recorded within my mind. And
screaming reels, and snapping outrigger clips, and the
furious growls of the twins as I throw them in reverse
to back down on a belligerent billfish. The yells and
screams of the anglers and instructions from my mate, Tim,
as he wires the fish to the awaiting tag...music!
On a quiet lake somewhere in central Florida, Dad and I
waited for the big, blue bream to eat the red wigglers we
offered, and the red-winged blackbird called her mate from
a stand of cattails near where we fished. He would sit there
for hours, silently and still. And just as I was about to
speak, he would hush me before I opened my mouth by saying
quietly, "Listen." And I would, but I would hear nothing,
but now I understand. I now hear what he listened to. It
was the sounds of silence, the music of the day.
Your water's voice is different than mine, but the same.
We are connected by these waters and sounds of Mother
Nature's many instruments..."listen."
"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.