Have you ever sat in the stern
of an old tarpon boat, feet
planted firmly before the chair,
fishing pole across your lap, just studying
that rod tip for any sign of movement?
Have you watched the sunset from the waters of Boca Grande Pass, watching dolphins play by the
boat and pass crabs swimming by? And have you been sitting there, lulled by the rolling waves, until your rod
is violently rocked by a slam from a silver king? It’s just the best, isn’t it?
How you answered those questions is important, because tarpon fishing is one of the best things about
living around Gasparilla Island. I have seen far too many people who never gave a flying fig about fishing get
up from that tarpon chair a changed person after catching a big one. Maybe you’ve caught a big catfish
before or a nice gag grouper ... but if you’ve never been tarpon fishing, you just don’t understand.
As we roll full on into silver king season please take a minute to appreciate our local guides. These guys
sleep maybe two hours out of 24 for weeks on end, because between catching
bait, getting ice, hosing down the boat and picking up and dropping off clients they
are exhausted. Anyone who thinks it would be “fun,” needs to understand that
fishing can be hard work, but for the guides whose fathers and grandfathers and
great-grandfathers before them drifted the Pass for a living it is nothing but love.
This is the time of year when we get to take a breath. The snowbirds have gone
for the most part and it’s not yet completely beastly hot. If you’re lucky enough to
have a friend with a boat, pester them: It’s good to remember we only get to
experience about half of Florida’s beauty from land.
This is the time when I get to do some sitting and starin’. Some might call it
meditation, as do the monks at the Sarasota Forest Monastery in Englewood, but I
prefer to call it what it is. The best places to do it are out on the water or in the woods, where you can just
zone out and listen to the wind in the trees or the seabirds. One minute turns into 20 quite easily, and when
you are done you realize you’ve scarcely taken a breath and feel much more revitalized.
I hope you enjoy reading about the little monastery in the woods, and if you have any interest in furthering
yourself on the path to self enlightenment, you are welcome to visit there any Saturday for some quiet meditation.
I will leave you with words from The Buddha and a hope that the impending summer season is good
to you. Be kind to yourself and to others ... there’s no reason not to.
“We are shaped by our thoughts;
we become what we think. When the
mind is pure, joy follows like a
shadow that never leaves.”
10 GASPARILLA ISLAND May/June 2018