Friday, September 30, 2011

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing go together so firmly that, at least in Florida, both are regulated by the same government agency.  You can get a freshwater fishing license, a saltwater license, a hunting license or various combinations of all them - by the year or lifetime.  (As one wise-ass said, "at my age, pretty much everything I buy can be a lifetime supply; every membership a lifetime membership").

I've mused before that I grew up fishing, not hunting, I think largely because my dad was injured in WWII, and was not able to handle hunting.  I remember fishing on saltwater piers and bridges when I was no more than 6 years old.  When I got old enough to drive, I'd spend summer nights on the local fishing piers and fish all night, coming home a little after day break and sleeping all day.  In the tropics, even the fish take a siesta during the daytime heat.

Always the do-it-yourself kind of guy, I built most of my fishing rods, made a lot of lures, learned how to tie flies, make bucktail jigs, and fix everything I had.

I've owned a couple of boats during my life.  My first was a 20' Dusky, a south Florida-manufactured center-console boat, bought used when it was 10 years old, IIRC.  A deep vee hulled, offshore fishing boat, I set a lot of personal bests on that boat.  I owned it from about '80 until '84, when circumstances required I sell it.  A year or so later, it was replaced with an Alumacraft 16' - an inshore boat we used in the bays and inlets.   We had that from about '86 through about '91. 

You probably know where this is going... Mrs. Graybeard and I have been thinking about going fishing once the fall fishing season starts up.  Which ought to be real soon now; in fact, it's kind of overdue.  Our daytime temps have still been touching 90 degrees every day, but it finally looks like "fall" might come here this weekend.  Saturday night is forecast to be 60, instead of mid-70s, and a high of 80 on Sunday, instead of 90.  There's no boat, but we live close enough to Sebastian Inlet, one of the best-known fishing spots in Florida, to make it reasonable to fish there whenever we want.  I think we'll be giving it a try sometime soon. 

It hadn't occurred to me how much things have changed since the last time we went fishing until we tried to remember the last time we went fishing.  When you try to figure out if monofilament (fishing line) is still good, the manufacturers typically tell you to replace it every year or so.  When your line is old enough to vote, there's no question.  In the last 20 years, fluorocarbon line has come onto the market, but the big new thing is braided line.  I don't know how to use those, so I stuck with good old nylon monofilament: old school line to go with all my old school tackle.

So all the rods have fresh line.  One rod had a broken guide, and without replacement parts had to be put aside.  I found that by going on autopilot, I remembered how to tie a Bimini twist and all the other knots I needed to rig all my tackle.  All of the old lures are still good, all of the old reels still work, with a little cleaning and a touch of oil here and there. 

Unless a lot of prognosticators are wrong, fishing will be a good survival skill.  Quite possibly within the next few months. 


  1. My dad taught me both hunting and fishing as a kid. I'm not too much on hunting anymore because it's so damn expensive. But, to this day, I still get a bump in my heart rate thinking about the wily 5 lb. bass.

    As you well know, even if the catching ain't so good, the fishing always is.

  2. That's true - we've spent many days just catching and releasing "fun fish" like ladyfish and jacks.

    I've got to say, though, in the last 20 years, the fishing regulations have gotten to where you have to carry a card telling you what you can and can't keep, how many you can keep and how big they have to be. Minimum sizes are one thing, now there are slot limits where a fish can be too big or too small. Quick: is that a Nassau grouper or a gag grouper? Different rules all the way around. Spanish Mackerel or Cero Mackerel? First one has a limit, the second one doesn't.

  3. Every bit of that second paragraph is saltwater fishing, right? I've only done one fishing trip in saltwater, for reds down in the Gulf. Red whats, I couldn't tell you...drum, maybe? Black spot on the tail? Shalow water? Spirited fighters, fun fish. Lots of regulations on them, as well. It was confusing. But a damn good time whenever we got into a run of them.

  4. Yes, all saltwater. I think for some reason, I thought you were someone I had swapped email with who lives near Tampa, on our west coast.

    Red drum are called reds or redfish over their entire range, I think, along with a few extra names. They are good fighters and fun to fish for. It used to be "common wisdom" to keep a small one or two to eat and release the big ones, but then some Louisiana chef got famous for blackened redfish and the species got put under big pressure. Now we have tight limits, one fish per person per day, between 18" and 27" long. I believe the idea is that by the time they are 18" long, they've spawned once, and over 27" long they become big contributors to the annual spawn.