I really like to fish, and fortunately the Florida Keys are the perfect venue for that. And I like to share my fishing experiences. To me, being with friends is what it’s all about.
But the best part is that, many times, you come away from a day on the water with more than fish for the table. Some of the experiences can leave you laughing so hard that your sides practically split.
For example, about two years ago I took Larry Kahn, the editor of the local “Keynoter” newspaper, out on my boat in the Upper Keys. We trolled near the Islamorada hump (literally an underwater mountain) and encountered a school of small dolphin.
Okay. Hold on a minute, Mabel. We’re talking about dolphin fish, otherwise known as dorado or mahi mahi. No, we don’t catch Flipper in the Keys. Flippers, a.k.a. dolphin mammals, are well protected and completely off limits to anglers.
Anyway, as I reeled in a small dolphin fish, I could see others behind the boat.
“Larry, take this pilchard and put it on one of those rods,” I commanded, handing him a baitfish and pointing to three fishing outfits that were positioned in forward rod holders.
It seemed to take Larry forever to affix the dead bait to the end of the fishing line. By the time he did, the dolphin had departed and we only caught one.
We commenced trolling again, with Larry driving the boat. After I set the lines, my eyes drifted to the rods positioned in the forward holders. I saw the dead pilchard dangling from the top of one — and then broke out in uncontrollable laughter.
“What’s wrong, Andy?” Larry inquired.
I retrieved the rod with the dangling pilchard. Of the three available rods, two had pre-rigged monofilament leaders with hooks, specifically for casting to schoolies. But one had a snap swivel (the fishing version of a safety pin) that I had rigged to quickly attach a pre-rigged trolling feather for blackfin tuna.
Larry, who in a story for the “Keynoter” once compared his own angling prowess to that of Ernest Hemingway, had avoided the rods with fishhooks and had guided the snap swivel through the pilchard’s lips and closed it.
“Larry, how the heck can you possibly expect to catch a fish without a hook?” I roared.
He pondered for a second and said, “You know, I thought I wasn’t doing something right.”