I was tired. The boat was all washed from the heavy salt build up. I backed Katie,
that's what I call her, into the workshop and headed for the house. I put my wallet,
clippers, a penny and quarter on the table, undressed and went into the bathroom.
The shower would feel good, so I stepped in and turned on the water. As the first
drops hit my face, visions of the day's activities came into focus. The spectacle in
the lagoon weighed heavy on my mind. I thought, how unsporting of these guides
to herd the school into a tight formation and then pick them off like ducks at a
shooting gallery. Each man waited his turn to take a shot throwing his bait into
the fray of copper forms. The redfish were confused. They turned and raced
around in a tight pack. They moved so fast, I thought they would turn to butter.
Twelve boats closed in with their bows only 50 feet apart. The Reds were scared,
nervous, and skittish. Who wouldn't be?
I usually stay away from the congregation of guide boats. Most have promised
monster fish to their parties, and will go to extreme measures to ensure hook ups.
I remember the guide with arms outstretched to the heavens yelling in Herculean
fashion, "YES, YES!" How difficult was it to hook up under those circumstances?
He might as well have had those reds in a big barrel and thrown in lines with baited hooks.
We stayed back and off, away from the group. I guess in a way we were mesmerized
by what we saw. My fly anglers were in shock. They couldn't believe the display
of greed. The circled anglers didn't appreciate the hunt - they were at a slaughter.
Like what was done to the Bison, as they were eliminated on the plains. It's a chance
you take when you go fishing. You don't always catch fish. My fly anglers knew this.
Maybe this is just a fly fishing thing. My mind drifted again. I was transfixed on
recalling how my party hooked up, chased them for 45 minutes, and then lost their fish.
That was ok. They understood. You don't always bring them to the boat. They
knew there was more to fishing than just catching fish. There was nature all around
us to observe and appreciate. Fly-fishing brings out a reverence in you. It fills your
spirit and your heart.
Today we heard the shrill cry of a red-tailed hawk. They are a familiar sight in the lagoon.
Ospreys have a similar cry. They travel in pairs hunting for fish, which they consume for
their young. They take only what they need. In many of the mangroves, dead trees
stack up along the shore where saltwater laps the oysters and small coquina like stones.
The water forms ripples over them and makes them blurry, if only for a micro-second.
Once on the flat you notice the wavy, reddish-yellow marsh grass. The leaves have a
special purpose and allow oxygen to be trapped inside. Rays like to bed down in their
blankets of grass. The fish know this, too. There is much life and activity in the marsh.
Listen. You can hear the water, the wind; your senses are sharpened. It's crazy to
upset nature's balance.
Take the sport of fishing. By its nature, stalking fish, sight-fishing, blind-casting or just
taking your chances in finding fish is part of the sport. Sure enough, people who pay
guides want to catch fish. So there is a responsibility on the part of the guide to put
these people 'on' fish. But there is also a responsibility to respect nature and naturally
occurring activity. That's my point. I wanted to go to each boat and tell them to stop
Rounding up a school of redfish takes the 'sport' out of fishing. It traumatizes the fish.
Wake up people. It's time to start acting like human beings, not some spoiled yaa-hoos
who have to catch fish. I'm sure the guy who goes home to show off his trophy to his
friends won't tell them how it was done. There will be some extravagant story on how
he bagged this huge fish.
To you guys in the circle, it's too bad you weren't with me instead. You might have
learned the meaning of restraint and protection of the species. I know I'm harping
now - but it needs to be said. I'm not bragging, just stating fact. Hope you're listening.
Open your eyes and mind. See the unspoiled Florida in all its naturalness. Where else
can you see up close, bottlenose dolphins, manatees, eagles, osprey, pink spoonbills,
ibis, night herons, ducks, wild pigs, alligators, and other wildlife as well. We might
even catch fish, and then we may not - but you will remember the experience, the
richness of the day and come back again. Now, where did I put that towel?
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.