Friday, February 04, 2005

solo blogtrotter

They should call Marco Island the Windy City. Partly because of the wind and partly because half the winter population is from Naperville and Lombard.
I've only missed a few nights of fishing in 4 weeks, many nights alone in the cold wind, but tonight I may not even go take my evening pier walk. I think the wind just wore me down. Yet, even though it's midnight, I don't know if I can stand to sit and watch TV or read in my room when I know the water teems with life.

My fascination with salt water stands unabated. I spend hours just staring at the water. Last night, a Manta Ray cruised by me like a u.f.o., followed by a flock of stingrays maybe 20 thick, flying like birds underwater, spooked by something, scattering like an explosion went off between them. Minutes later, something I'd never seen before, a spotted stingray, like a flying leopard bird u.f.o.. Snook and trout were feeding in the water lit by the streetlight on the bridge. They come up from the bottom in flashes of gold and bronze and silver, smash and grab, but you can't see what they're grabbing, as the food of choice seems to be glass minnows, so tiny and transparent that the water could be thick with them and you wouldn't see it. Some nights the water is a bubbling cauldron of fish; minnows, ladyfish shooting all over the place like exploding firecrackers, the rolling trout, the skipping and hopping shrimp, the shimmery, wiggly ballyhoo, the squid floating gently in the current until they attack something, fatheaded mullet scared at the slightest movement, crabs floating by on the current, all their legs churning franticly as the tide forces a change in location for them. On the railings of the pier stand great blue herons. A stunningly beautiful bird, huge, posing in the audobon classic regal bird way, natures perfect model, tasteful in slate grey and brown and white, watching the water with cocked head with the grace of a princess. Until you walk too close and they take off, honking like the smokers hack tinged guteral ejaculations the goose of a baritone bombay taxi bicycle horn, it's flight starts with that noise and a clumsy liftoff, it's huge wings taking a few long agonizing seconds to get up to speed, just to circle around and land 20 feet further away.

And then there's the fishermen. Talk about regal and clumsy and smokers hack and quiet grace and kindness and selfishness and generosity.

The tourists come in the daytime, pulling up to the bridge in cadillacs and lincolns and conversion vans with Illinois and Wisconsin and Iowa plates. They won't come at night or stay late because the hispanics and asians and banjo players and snook fishermen come at night. Then, at 11pm, when most of the beer drinkers and social fishermen go home, the serious fisherman come in, the tires of their pickup trucks crunching on the gravel along the bridge at the hours when decent people are asleep. Me? I stay for all night shifts, watching people come and go as I stay rooted in my spot on the railing, casting over and over, waiting, very tense and really relaxed, wild with anticipation whenever my bait starts drifting through the lit up area of churning activity. And every 50th cast, something slams it and fuels my presence there for another hour. It's tough work but someone has to do it.

Not worth mentioning are the drunks and the surly and the snobby. Worth mentioning are the kind and generous people. Last night I had no bait and the nearest was 20 miles away. Everyone was catching fish on shrimp and I had none. A guy I met last year, a black man originally from the bahamas, told me to take as much as I wanted. Shrimp here are the most expensive of anywhere in the state, 4 bucks a dozen compared to 2 bucks most other places, so this was no small offer. I offered to pay him to no avail. I caught a huge trout. The night before there were two retired guys from boston. They were catching fish on a certain type of jig and I was catching nothing. They insisted I take one of theirs, showed me some new knots to tie it with and coached me on the proper technique. Relationships out there are temporary, but it felt really good to have some pals, even if for only a few hours, to fish with.

At 3 a.m. this morning, out there alone in the cold and the wind, an old man limped down the catwalk, pulling a shopping cart behind, with tackle boxes and rod holders and 8 fishing rods, more than I own, and he's bringing them all with him. He was stooped and weathered wrinkled and could barely walk, but at 3 in the morning, as my back and shoulder were screaming at me to stop, he was starting his fishing day. "ha you see enna snook"?, he asks as he walks by and I reply in the affirmative. "gon' fish fo snook until daylaht then go fo sheephead" he explains after I remark on how many poles he had. Moments later, a dark tanned old man with a thick european accent races up the walk. "haf you seen any ladyfish?", he asks in a rush. Ladyfish are a pest. Big, voracious, inedible fish that strike hard, then race in every direction at lightning speed, smell bad and crap all over you when you pick them up to take the hook out. I assume he wanted one for bait. He told me to leave it on the pier for him if I caught one. A rusty old ford pickup pulls up. A guy wearing a t-short and shorts gets out and comes down to get some bait. It is in the 40s with a 15 mph wind coming out of the north. He yells sharply,"F**K, it's cold! All my clothes smelled like shit so I washed them and I ain't got shit to wear".

I have casted for hours, trying to get another big trout to match the one I got much earlier. Finally something strikes and strikes hard. It takes me under the bridge and somehow I turn it's head and he shoots out into open water again. I see it and it's a big snook, only in season for a few days now. I see him as somehow I get the upper hand. My line is light, as I was fishing for trout, and I'm an idiot, which might be the most important point. Snook is the real reason and the season and I wasn't prepared. He shot for deeper water and broke me off. "F**K!" I yelled to no-one at all as the waving tendril of my broken line flutters in the breeze. Everyone all night was trying to catch a snook and they all walked away emptyhanded. I somehow floated a shrimp into his face on one of my thousand casts and blew it.


Blogger jeffrey said...

solo blogtrotter... (smile)

what happens to the fish/hook when the line breaks? (theoretcally, i guess, since no one is there to see)

7:49 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

As soon as I stop lauging I'm going to the book store to buy something from this Author....does anyone know what else this solo-blogtrotter has written?

10:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What else has he written? How about a fine fiddle tune?

7:29 PM  
Blogger AM said...

If you're so fascinated w/sea life I wonder why you haven't written about snorkeling ... have you tried it?

5:41 AM  
Blogger steve rosen said...

In case you're wondering, I removed a couple of entries because they were linked to advertisements. I appreciate the comments, and feel free to link to a personal non-commercial website.

2:36 AM  

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