3 fisherwomen and a barbie

With temperatures in the mid 70’s, steady breezes from the south, and waters begging for fishing, our day at Boca Chita Key transformed into “Island Time”. Let me explain how “Island Time” works. You wake up in the AM….look at your overstuffed inbox, stare at your ambitious workout schedule, spin thru the many phone calls that you need to respond to….and then walk away. Those demands can wait. Shhh….I didn’t say that. For now, time stands still. Should we go for a leisurely walkabout on the island, or just make “boat talk” with other mariners? Should we make plans for a potluck dinner…or figure out the best fishing hole? Or, should we just play with a hermit crab?
It doesn’t take much to perk up my curiosity when seashells start walking by themselves. Linda and I discovered a small seashell attempting to run from our path, so we had to get to know this little creature. Meet our new friend Cliff. Cliff, the hermit crab. How did Cliff get his name – you ask? Just as we discovered him, a femme boater, wandered in our path looking for her husband Cliff. Cliff apparently had wandered off. She said she had hubby on a short leash….but he escaped anyway. We think Cliff was trying to hide under this little shell. Of course we said “no”, we hadn’t seen her husband Cliff – as we held him on a large leaf behind our backs.

It took a bit of time getting to know Cliff. He had one large claw…and hid under his shell any time he saw Linda’s hand whoosh over his eyeballs. After 1/4 mile of walking, with little Cliff….we came to an understanding. If Cliff stopped trying to walk on the palm of our hands….we’ll stop screaming and dropping him to the ground. It seemed to work.

Now, it was time for Cliff to meet our hubbies, and fellow boaters. We released Cliff on the picnic table in front of our boat. Paddy was the first to meet Cliff and had had never seen a hermit crab before. I’m pretty sure he is excited about this. We proceeded to introduce Cliff to any boater who passed by. Cliff got a LOT of exercise trying to get away from us. There goes another 2 hours. It’s all good. It’s “Island Time”.

Eventually, the lady who had lost her hubby Cliff….found him. And we released our Cliff back to Boca Chita nature. hmmm….now what should we do? Oh yeah — let’s go fishing!

3 ladies. One barbie doll fishing pole. And a dingy. Everyone had something to contribute…and nobody had a clue about fishing. I had the pink barbie doll fishing pole, huge work gloves from Home Depot, an official Florida fishing license….and snacks. Linda had a bucket for the fish, the dinghy…an anchor…and knew how to start the outboard motor. Karen had a container filled with live shrimp and crab bait….local knowledge about the best fishing holes….and a makeup kit. We were ready to catch some fish.

After some debate about what constitutes a “fishing hole” – we agreed to drop anchor in the strong tidal current between Boca Chita Key, and Sands Key. The first challenge, was getting the live bait out of the container. The scene was predictable. The shrimp jumped….we screamed. The shrimp jumped again….we screamed more. Linda suggested we should start with dead bait…and work our way up to the live bait. Karen found a dead shrimp….and we squinted our eyes and looked away – while Karen baited the hook. With a dead shrimp.

Linda made the first cast. Nothing. Linda cast again….and wowie zow….like magic – a whopper of a fish took the bait. Our dingy was a buzz with excitement….the fish was dangling off of the barbie doll pole….and Karen was busy providing instructions and simultaneously looking for her makeup kit. It’s important to look good for the pictures. Captured on video

It became obvious that SOMEONE would have to touch the fish. In my view, anyone who knows how to start the dinghy outboard motor…should be the one to handle the fish. So, Linda man’d up….and with the huge Home Depot gloves….she grabbed the fish in one hand….and apologized to it profusely for the next 3 minutes while she attempted to remove the hook. It was quite the spectacle. Karen snapped a picture…I filled the bucket with water….and Linda dropped the fish in the bucket. The fish proceeded to splash and jump wildly. We all screamed….and repositioned ourselves as far as possible from the fish frenzy in the bucket. I grabbed Karen’s life jacket…and placed it over the bucket. At least the fish can’t jump out now.

It’s now my turn with the fishing pole. Karen baited it for me – with a nice dead shrimp. I cast it into the fishing hole. So I thought. Karen told me I didn’t need to cast it so far. Linda said I was reeling it in to fast. Karen though I should let the bait sink more. Someone wanted me to jerk the line more. Yikes! Suddenly, our dingy was filled with fishing experts…and my days of carefree casting were over. The fish did a good job eating the dead shrimp bait….without getting caught on my hook. So, it was time to hand the pole over to Karen.

Despite the fact that the fish are biting…AND we had a visual on some VERY LARGE fish below the surface – Karen wanted to relocate to another fishing hole. Okey-dokey. We relocated to another fishing hole….and not a nibble. It was at this moment — that I understood the art of fishing. When you are catching fish….then it’s about the fish. When you’re not catching fish….then it’s about the “fishing stories”. And, we had no shortage of stories.

As we continued to fish, dish out, or receive instructions, get the hook stuck on rocks, reposition to new fishing holes, gradually work up to using the “live” bait…and peek at our (I mean, Linda’s) miniature trophy fish for the next 2 hours — the only thing that was missing — was catching any more fish. It didn’t matter. We returned to the Boca Chita Key harbor….proudly displaying our ONE fish….and describing for anyone who would listen….the “big one” that got away.

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