Now, when I was growing up, the family went fishing most any opportunity that my father found. This was not terribly often during our northern years, other than our FLA vacations, but while we lived in the FLA it was pretty regular.
A fishing trip was a family outing and we’d all eat and fish and play around, and it was fine. But fishing was never one of my favorite pastimes…not in the top 10, or 20…or really anywhere on the list. You see, although I can appreciate being still and contemplative, I never found fishing to be that. No, to me it was standing around in the heat, watching a little floating bobber in anticipation…for what? To see a flailing, scaly, poky thing grab a sharp hook and then try to peel it off of that hook?! Not really my bag, I must say.
During our time in Sweetwater, just on the outskirts of metropolitan Miami, we would regularly drive out of town a ways on the Tamiami Trail (so named because it essentially runs from Tampa on the Gulf coast to Miami…which we all know where that is). The Trail paralleled the Tamiami Canal, which, although not as long as the Trail, is a pretty good stretch of water, straight and dark. We’d drive to some random spot out on the canal where there was room to park off the road, we’d break out our cane poles and hang out for a couple of hours and fish. (cane poles are simple affairs with no reel mechanism, just a line on a stick, basically; I guess it makes sense that we had these, as they were easy to use, probably cheaper, and likely more efficient in the sometimes narrow expanse of the canal, with mangroves crowding the opposite shore.)
For me, the only excitement was watching for gators, which were not at all uncommon to see. I got pretty freaked out once when a smallish-medium size gator near the opposite side floated in our direction and then disappeared underwater. But they never hassled us.
Dad would usually have his shirt off and he’d be in his element. He wasn’t a hardcore fisherman by any means, but he sure liked being out there. My brother Scott was pretty down for the fishing too, but it just wasn’t my bag. Standing around, hot and muggy and sweating, watching the green-black water of the canal, swatting mosquitoes.
But my dad loved this stuff, and he wanted to share with his family. Occasionally we’d find our way to some fishing pier and use a rod and reel. Even that did not excite me. But I’m not complaining. I appreciated the family-hang time, and besides, I didn’t have other pressing business to tend to. I was just a kid. We would not go during Sunday football, so what was I missing out on? Not too much…