Blog #48 The next few days I will tell those of you that are interested some fish stories. Like all fish stories, there will be exaggerations and outright falsehoods. But that’s what makes a fish story so much fun.
Here goes…For our 10th wedding anniversary, Meegan and I went down to Islamorada to celebrate. She had looked into the Keys as a possible family vacation spot, but we had never been there before. We would be there from Thursday through Sunday, so there wasn’t a lot of time, but we like to explore and we were excited. We flew into Miami and drove a couple hours down to the top of the Keys. I had called in advance to set up some fishing. I had been referred to a guide by the name of Vic Gaspenny by Jack Kammerer. Gaspenny was a legendary Keys guide. Unfortunately, I was told by the guy on the phone that he was unavailable, as if I had the nerve to ask for the royal jewels. But there was another guide that he could get to take us out. His name was Vinnie Biondoletti. “Be here before 7.” We were excited to fish. We knew only what we had seen on TV, neither of us having any experience. In Islamorada there are two different kinds of fishing: Offshore and Backcountry. Offshore is where you head out miles to the deep ocean channel and try for big fish such as Sailfish, Marlin, Swords and Dolphin. Backcountry is the hundreds of square miles of water between the Keys and the mainland of Florida, butting up against the Everglades. The water is shallower and a wide variety of fish are found in protected channels and around hundreds of small mangrove islands. There is one large game fish that patrols the Backcountry, the Tarpon, but it is a seasonal fish and in late October they aren’t as plentiful. We would try for anything that would bite. We didn’t care. We just wanted to get out on the water in a boat with someone who would take us. We arrived a half hour early and ordered sandwiches at the marina to take with us on the boat. The guides were all there, readying gear, dumping ice into coolers and loading fresh bait. Being a Backcountry guide, Vinnie’s boat was a 17 foot skiff, with a 150 HP outboard motor and a flat deck in order to move around. Backcountry guides keep their skiffs in a covered boathouse, similar to a horse stable, the boats elevated on lifts above the water overnight. There were others like us there. Families down on vacation, going out to try fishing. Experienced and inexperienced. Dads with sons and daughters. Guides bantering back and forth. Their loud voices echoing off the boat house’s cement pillars. Comrades about to head out in different search parties for the day. Pelicans were bobbing up and down in the soft current. The sun still was hiding in the east. The morning air cool and thick with salt. Vinnie greeted us and asked if we had sunscreen. He had bottled water in the cooler and placed our wrapped sandwiches beside it. He helped Meegan into the boat and asked me to untie the line at the bow. The motor idled and he asked, “Well, what are we looking to catch today?” “We don’t care, we don’t know anything about fishing. We’re just happy to be here.” He smiled, as I am sure he has a thousand times before, the thought running through his head and, probably in not in terms of endearment, “Newbies”.
To be continued….
Quote of the Day: “There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” — Steven Wright
Today’s Playlist from Jimmy Buffett:
1) Havana Daydreamin’
2) Woman Going Crazy on Caroline Street
3) Come Monday
4) Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes
5) It’s My Job
Books to Read:
1) The Longest Silence by Thomas McGuane
1) A River Runs Through It
Yesterday’s Trivia Question: What is Albion College’s nickname? ANSWER: The Britons
Today’s Trivia Question: Fort Jefferson is a massive but unfinished fortress. It is the largest brick masonry structure in the Americas, and is composed of over 16 million bricks. The building covers 16 acres. Among United States forts, only Fort Monroe in Virginia and Fort Adams in Rhode Island are larger. Where is Fort Jefferson?