“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” —Henry David Thoreau
God, I love fishing. I dig fishing almost as much as hunting (almost). I love it so much that I moved to a place that is one of the top angling spots in the world: Miami, Florida. And you know what? I milk these waters as much as a working man can.
My fishing roots extend back to Texas and my rowdy childhood when my dad used to take me and my brother fishing on the many lakes, ponds and rivers the Lone Star state has to offer.
Our stringer was typical of a freshwater 60s and 70s Texas catch: perch, crappie, black bass, white bass, channel cats, carp and gar. It was way cool for this little redneck. Yes indeed, Bob-Dawg, I dug it all.
For example, as a young punk I took insane pleasure in:
• Buying fishing gear. Very cool. • Practicing my casting accuracy in my backyard (which still serves me well to this day) • Reading Outdoor Life and getting pumped on its fishing lies … I mean … stories • Experiencing the inability to sleep the night before getting up and declaring war on the fish • Buying bait at freaky bait shops run by guys I swear worked as extras on the movie Deliverance • Arriving at our strategic and wild location and having the privilege of watching and listening to that which is untamed waking up and beginning its tooth, fang and claw survival of the fittest exchange with Mother Nature. Life and death in its purest form, Nancy boys. • Taking a crash course from my dad and other gents regarding different lures and the various ways to present them • And then, of course, the entre, actually catching a fish and grappling with my gigantic aquatic monster which was, in all reality, a pound-and-a-half bass. (I didn’t care, though, because as far as I was concerned, I was Ernest-Frickin’-Hemingway’s character Santiago, and that little bass was my Marlin.) • And lastly, basking in the great satisfaction later that evening of watching adults eat what this rugrat provided. I am iron man. Dun, dun. Dun na dun dunna dunna dunna dun dunna dun. As a young squab, the whole fishing enchilada, from soup to nuts, represented what Bryan Adams called, “The best days of my life.”
With the busyness of college, getting married, raising little girls, making money, and kicking ass, I got out of the fishing groove until I moved mi familia to Miami where I became a fishing kid again and quickly returned to my angling roots.
After a couple of years of getting settled in, weeding through the rip-off charters and bad captains, I landed on two Capitans who are worth their weight in gold. After the Lord blessed me with those two leads I quickly called my dad to get his butt on a plane to bend some rods South Florida style. And oh my God have we crushed the fish.
Not only has pops been a part of many insane hauls, but my wife and my two infamous daughters have, as well. Matter of fact, my girls grew up catching big game fish on light tackle twice their body length without daddy’s help. That’s how they roll, boys. Grow a pair or go home.
In addition to my familial fishing trips, we have had the pleasure of fishing with folks from all over the world and from every conceivable walk of life: from diplomats, bestselling authors, pundits, big name rock stars, Fox News contributors, missionaries, attorney generals, terminal cancer patients, and good buddies at church, to at risk teens without hope and without a clue. We have always had an amazing time, sharing in our mutual addiction that we seek no cure from (i.e. the screaming reel).
The fish we have caught, of which I have the pictures and videos to prove, include: giant bull sharks, lemon sharks, great hammerheads, black tip sharks, spinner sharks (the most enjoyable shark to hook), dusky sharks, sailfish, dolphin, goliath grouper (and their many cousins), permit, bonefish, giant barracuda, tarpon, snook, speckled trout, jack cravelles, amberjack, ladyfish, blue fish, snapper, tripletails, yellow jacks, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bonita, tuna, red fish and a couple of things I didn’t know what the hell they were.
We have caught them all: small, medium and large. In the gorgeous ultra marine blue seas of the Atlantic, to the gin-clear flats of Biscayne Bay, down to Key West, to the murky fish-rich waters of Chokoloskee, the Ten Thousand Islands area, and the gorgeous, uninhabited sanctuary of Flamingo.
Yep, I blame fish for a lot of the great times in my life. Check it out: All around the personal pursuit of my finny little friend, my life and my relationships have been greatly enriched via stretched monofilament and high-pitched Diawa drag screams.
Which brings me to the point of my column. As much as I have been there and have done that from a fishing standpoint, as you can guess from my eight-hundred-word gush above, I can’t imagine not fishing for the rest of my life nor my kid’s kids not being able to be anglers should they so desire. Fishing is one of the cherished liberties and activities that keeps me giddy about the great American experiment.
That’s why when I hear crap that Obama and his “progressive” ilk want to ban fishing, it gets me … uh … how shall I put this … um… angry. Yeah, that’s a good word. Not only are they upending this nation on many different economical fronts but now they’re talking about the recreationally and economically disastrous move of banning fishing? What’s next? Are they going to ban apple pie? Blonde-haired girls? Chevrolet? No, they own Chevy now. What about baseball?
For those who say, “Ah, it’ll never happen in America,” that’s probably what some folks in Ontario thought before the World Wildlife Fund and the International Fund for Animal Welfare completed their successful campaign to convince the Ontario government to shut down one of the best managed big-game hunts in North America, which crippled many small businesses and the tourism economy of communities across northern and central Ontario.
My advice to fishermen everywhere is to refuse to be silent and scream now via phone calls, emails and faxes to your reps as loud as your Penn reel would wail with a 50lb kingfish strippin’ off its line.