The Car Bodies
I got up before the alarm clock went off. I knew that I didn't need the alarm clock because I was going fishing this morning. It was a Wednesday, a rare middle of the week- day off and I wasn't going to waste it by laboring around the house. The sun wasn't even up yet. I was going to be a member of the dawn patrol. I quietly got up, so as not to wake up my bride of nearly 30 years. For a big man, I can be pretty stealthy. I knew she had that honey-do list for me, and if I woke her at this hour, it was just going to get longer.
I had gotten my fishing clothes together the night before and put them into the garage so I could dress in there. But before heading there I had to go pee! I felt like I was carrying a 50 gallon aquarium, but I wasn't going to use the master bathroom...no way. I didn't want anything to cause my queen to stir. I went to the main bathroom down the hall. I didn't even want to turn on a hall light for fear of waking my true love. I felt my way along the hallway. I knew that there were only five sneaky paces from my bedroom door to the main bathroom. What I didn't count on was the SQUEAK of a **** dog toy that was in the hallway! I froze in my tracks, much like a deer caught in car headlights, and I listened, straining to hear any evidence of movement. Whew! All I was hearing was my own rapid heartbeat and her nightly dream of being a lumberjack in the Petrified Forest with a dull saw.
After finally relieving myself, I started back down the hall, having made a mental note of where the squeaky dog toy was so as not to encounter the noise bomb again. I opened the hall door into the living room and there were my three dogs, lying on the couch, so sweet and innocent, their wagging tails thumping on the couch in unison. One of them was the culprit that left the toy in the hallway. I would have to deal with them later. I was worried now, because I had to run this gauntlet of dogs. When Bella see us get up in the morning she does this tail wagging, jump on you, whining "I am so happy to see you" thing. And to compound things, this causes Bailey to start barking! The little one, Boo just comes and licks you. This was going to be scary. Much to my chagrin, they stayed on the couch, just lifted their heads to see who it was, and then went back to sleep. I guess it was to early, even for them. They just got a pardon from the noise bomb incident.
I opened the door from the kitchen to the garage and the cat jumped own from its nightly perch to the washing machine which scared the bejeebers out of me. It startled me so bad that I slammed the door into the rack that held the mop and broom which caused the to fall against the freezer, making more noise. Then to top that all off, all three dogs came running to see what the commotion was about. They could sense it had something to do with the cat. Quickly, I went to the cabinet that held the dog cookies we would give them for a snack. I gave the dogs two cookies apiece and told them to go lay down. The bribe worked, for all three made their way back to the couch and lay down.
Finally, I got dressed and got the rest of my gear together. I slowly opened the garage door, but only half way, to keep the noise down. I am not sure if it was worth it though. For one whose girth was a bit larger than a normal person, this was a lot of bending to do. After a couple more grunts, I had everything out. As quietly as I could, I closed the garage door and locked it. Now all I had to do is wait for Leon. Leon is my neighbor down the block.
While waiting for Leon, I made a mental note of all my all my gear. Rod and reel...check...tackle box...check...landing net...check...ice chest with drinks and food...check...wallet with fishing license...you know that sick feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize something was wrong...I just had that feeling. To compound that, I didn't have my keys either! What the heck was I going to do? Panic was setting in.
"C'mon now...think!" I thought to myself. I toyed with the idea of taking my chances and fish without my license, but the fines are pretty stiff and I certainly didn't want to burden the woman, who is my breath and life, to worry about it. I had to get back into the house, but how was I going to do this? "C'mon...think!" Then it dawned on me...the doggie door! Yeah, that's the ticket. I opened the gate and walked to the back door. This set the dogs to growling. The growling stopped when they heard my voice begging them to be quiet. I had to lie on my back and stick my head and arm thru the doggie door to unlock the back door. This may not seem like a difficult task, but you try it with three dogs licking your face! The door opened and the doggie door flap knocked off my hat and glasses. Boo thought it was time to play so she grabbed my hat jumped on my belly and thru the open door.
"Boo" I shouted in a loud whisper, "come back here!" All I could see was the tip of her white-tipped tail wagging as she ran around the back yard with my hat. Then Boo came to me..."Good Boo" I said. "Give daddy boy his hat." As I bent down to retrieve my hat, off she goes again, dragging my hat in the morning dew. "**** it Boo! Get back hear!" I said in a bit louder voice, but not enough to wake my sleeping beauty. Bribe time again! I walked into the living room. Bailey and Bella were on the couch again. I quietly opened the hallway door and went to the bedroom door to listen. I could tell that she was still in the forest sawing away. I grabbed and twisted the doorknob of the sometimes-sticking door and said a silent prayer..."Please Lord. If it is your will and you want me to go fishing today, don't let the door stick." Slowly the door opened, and quiet as a church mouse I went to the dresser to retrieve my wallet. As quietly as I went in, I turned to go out. When I got to the door I heard a giggle and "Have fun today!" I nearly passed out! My knees buckled and my heart was pounding! I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
"But...but...how did...I was..." I stammered.
"I talked to Diane last night and she told me what you two had cooked up" she said.
"Well, I'll be..." I said. I made a note of telling Leon that he needs to keep his big mouth shut sometimes.
"Thanks honey. I love you!" I said. And with that I was off. There was a decidedly different pace in my steps now. No more sneaking around for me! No siree! I was the man of the house and I was going fishing!
I went out the front door of the house this time. Didn't have to repeat the grunt thing of the garage door again.
"Where are you Leon?" I wondered as I looked down the block. Headlights at his house...he was on his way. I loaded up my gear into his truck, all the while I was giving him an earful about keeping his big mouth shut.
"I didn't mean to say anything, but you know how Diane is. She knows how to get anything out of me. We were just sitting there talking about the kids and out of the clear blue she asked me what I was doing today?" "Without thinking I said "Vic and I are...." and I stopped right there, but it was to late. You know how she is. She finally drug it out of me" he said. "I am sorry. Did you get into any trouble?"
"No, but I know Lynne is laughing right now at the "trying to be stealthy" show that I put on" I said. "Let's go fishing." I said.
We were off to the magical area of the car bodies. We passed all the businesses along bait row and crossed the bridge over the Intra Coastal canal. We turned east and headed down the Blue Water Highway to the car bodies. We turned onto the beach at the number five access to put the high beams of the truck on the water. There was barely a ripple on the water and when the light hit it, the mullet went crazy. We saw one big explosion in the water, with the mullet flying everywhere. What an adrenalin pump that sight was. We turned to each other and smiled, be cause the day was starting out good.
We made our way to the car bodies and got things ready. Normally, we would have bought a pint of shrimp each, but today was strictly artificial. We looked resplendent in our wading belts, festooned with all types of equipment, from extra artificials hung on our pith hats, to the landing nets and stringers tied to our belts. We were ready to do battle with the unsuspecting trout.
I started throwing topwaters, a black Top Dog, while Leon was throwing a white Bass Assassin. Leon struck first with a nice trout that looked to be about eighteen inches long. He struck again, but the trout was too small.
"C'mon Vic! What you waiting on?" Leon said as he set the hook on another trout.
****, I can't let him kick my butt like this. If I didn't get a strike on this retrieve I am going to change lures. One more cast...zzzzzzzzzzz out it goes with a small splash. Twitch, twitch, pause...twitch, twitch, pause, I could hear the rattles in the lure. It was making the clicking sound every time it was twitched. Twitch, twitch, sploosh...I felt tension on the line and set the hook, the battle was on. All I felt was the power of the fish and heard the thrashing and splashing as the fish fought on the surface of the water. After a few minutes of battling the fish, a nice fat twenty-four inch speckled trout was in hand.
"Man, that is a nice fish!" Leon exclaimed.
"Whoooo weeeee was that a blast! This is a small fish for the Car Bodies." I yelled. "I need another one, maybe even bigger."
"I am going to let this one fight another day." I said as I released her. "The smaller ones make better eating anyway."
I made another long cast. Again, twitch, twitch, pause...twitch, twitch, pause...then another sploosh, with the same results, another fine trout. This trout was about seventeen inches. It went on the stringer this time.
The eastern horizon had an orange glow to it. The sun would be up soon. Things slowed down for me on the black Top Dog, so I switched over to a clown colored She Dog. Leon switched over to a pumkinseed/chartruse Bass Assassin. Leon strung a couple more trout and all I could muster was a few weak blow-ups on the She Dog. The sun was well up in the morning part of its daily journey. I looked around and several more fishermen were trying their luck.
The water clarity was remarkably clear for this section of the Gulf. It took on a bluish hue, which was a rare sight for the local fishermen. There were explosions all over the water. The mullet was scattering in all directions as the predators slashed thru the baitfish. You could see their dark bodies chasing the mullet. The fishermen were witnessing a true feeding frenzy.
I changed my lure once again. This time it was to a red/white mirror lure. I cast it as far as I could and started reeling it in, with a short jerk every so often. Bam! A hit! I fought the fish briefly before it came off. I made another sizzling cast. As the lure hit the water, I looked over at Leon. His rod was doubled over as he fought another fish. Leon was having a grand day. I turned back to my own fishing and started to reel the mirror lure in, jerking it on occasion. Bam, another hit! A double hook-up for Leon and I. Leon brought his fish in. A nice red fish in the 24-inch range was put on the stringer. I brought in a nice 19 inch trout. Man! What a great day we were having!
We both cast in unison this time. Leon was working his Bass Assassin and I was still with the red/white mirror lure. It seemed that the fish was waiting on that particular lure that I had cast, because, at that instant the lure hit the water, the fight was on. The first thing the fish did was to make about a thirty-yard thumb-burning run of the twelve-pound test line I had on my reel.
"Hey Leon! I got a big one on!" I yelled!
The fish came up and began thrashing about on the surface, kicking up water and foaming the surface as it fought against the pressure of the line. I turned the fish and what a scary moment that was. The fish was now swimming towards me and I was trying to reel up the slack line to keep pace. Then it did an about face and ripped off another sizzling run. It seemed that the fish was trying to head to Cuba. I was glad to have my Ambassaduer Reel with me on this outing. The Curado would have been spooled by now. Once again, the fish turned and started swimming towards me. My line was very slack and I had trouble trying to keep up with it. Finally, I got the slack reeled in, again putting pressure on the fish. There was something odd feeling this time. I could feel the fish on the end of the line, but the pull was not there. We went back and forth like this for quite a while, neither of us giving up.
There were a few people standing around me now, for I had worked my way back upon the beach.
"Whatcha got?" asked one fellow.
" Don't know." I replied.
"I betcha you got a stingray on there" he said. "It's probably sucked to the bottom."
"I don't think so." I said. "I can pull some line, just 3 or 4 feet and it will pull it back."
"Twang the line!" someone else shouted.
What ever I had on the end of my line was not budging. I could feel it on the end of my line and I couldn't gain any line, but the fish wasn't taking any line either. This went on for another twenty or thirty minutes and I was getting tired.
"You want me to try it for a while?" Leon asked.
"Naw, I will be alright" I said, "but did you bring your mask and fins with you?" I asked.
"I always carry them with me" was his reply. "Why, want me to go take a look?" he asked.
"Yeah, if you don't mind." I said.
"Sure bud, not a problem."
"Hey dude, be careful. I don't know what is on the end of this line." I said. He smiled and gave me the thumbs up sign.
When Leon walked out to the edge of the water with his fins and mask, there were a few snickers from the assembled crowd. Leon used the line as a guide to where the fish was. He went down into the water, and after a bit he came back up. He paddled in that one spot for a bit, took another deep breath and went back down. He stayed down a bit longer this time, longer than I expected. I was beginning to worry; when I saw his head pop up out of the water. He made a beeline straight to the beach, not stopping once. I was impressed. When he got to where he could walk in, he took off his mask. I could tell by the look in his eyes that there was a big fish down there.
"Well," I said, "what did you see?"
"Hold on…while…I catch…my breath!" he said. His chest was heaving in and out at a rapid rate, from the exertion.
The crowd was a bit bigger and had moved in closer to hear what Leon said.
"Well?" I asked.
"Man you got one big red fish on the end of your line," he said as his breathing was still a bit labored.
"How big is the red?" someone asked.
"It's the biggest danged red I have ever seen, and I have seen some monsters diving around the rigs" Leon said.
"Why can't I get it in?" I asked.
"Well," Leon said in a slow drawl. "It's the craziest thing I ever saw!"
"You gonna tell me, or what" I asked?
"Just you hold on now!" Leon said. "The only way your gonna get that red outta there is with a wrecker."
"A wrecker?" I asked! "Now tell me how the hell is a wrecker gonna do me any good?"
The gathered crowd was all-abuzz now. "He needs a wrecker," was the murmur going thru the crowd.
"Your gonna need the wrecker because that fish has done swam into one of them cars and rolled up the windows!" was all he said.
Victor J Martinez Feb. 7, 2005