Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The One That Got Away

A fish tale unfolds before my eyes here at Canaveral National Seashore in New Smyrna Beach, FL. I sit
in the middle, not euphemistically, either. My beach blanket and I are
center court, watching the fisherman on my left lob envious glances at
the one on my right, who fails, repeatedly, to return the glares.

He can't.

He's too busy.

The guy on my right has two lines in the surf. He's busy working them
both as bam BAM fish hit his lures as soon they hit the water.

The angler on my left stands with his fists buried in the waist of his
cutoff jeans, eyeing his one line, almost sadly, as it ebbs and flows
as steadily as the surf inhales and exhales.

He looks back at the other guy, the one who keeps catching fish, then  
stomps through the sand to go talk to him.

Of course, I don't know what was really said, but here's what I think
happened. Unsuccessful angler asks successful angler, "Hey, buddy,
what's your secret?" Successful angler says, "Take a look!" And then shows him how he's using two
lures, one at the end of his line and one about four feet into the line.

It's the second lure that's catching the fish. (I can see some of this
happening, as one guy points to the lures and the other guy nods.)

OK. Back to what I know happened. Unsuccessful angler trudges back to
his pole, reels it in, measures up four feet and attaches a new lure.
He casts off.

Successful angler keeps catching fish. Unsuccessful angler stands
for a while watching his line bob steadily with the waves, then sits
down on his bait bucket and pulls out a newspaper.

It must be a good read because Mr. New York Times doesn't see what I
see. His pole jiggers, turns left, then right, then it bows like a
willow in the wind. HEY MISTER! LOOK LOOK LOOK!

He just keeps on reading. And soon, the dance is over and the line stops wiggling.

When successful angler packs up his stuff and leaves, unsuccessful
angler notices. And checks his line. He notices the missing lures,
packs up his bags and leaves, too.

And so I wonder, and I wonder if he wonders, too, how big was the one
that got away.

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