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The three that didn’t get away
Andy & Opy going fishing
Growing up in Miami, Florida
Growing up in Miami, Florida was pretty great.
Water was everywhere. The Atlantic Ocean was less than three miles from the house I grew up in. The Gulf of Mexico was only about seventy five miles to the west. Lake Okeechobee (one of the largest fresh water lakes in the United States was only fifty miles to the north) and there were rivers, canals and smaller lakes everywhere. In fact there was an enormous lake less than two blocks from my house with a man-made island in the middle of it with a single coconut palm tree.
I used to love the outdoors. I spent as much time with my buddies as possible, surfing out at Bakers Haulover Beach and fished the pier there as well.
One of the fun mischievous actions I would often participate in was the catching of baby lemon sharks and then tossing them in the “brackish water” lakes in my neighbor hood. My buddies and I would get up on close by bridges and laugh our heads off as these wealthy folk would go for a swim in their “lake front property” and then suddenly see the fin of the shark. Oh the pandemonium which ensued. Part of the fun was that many of these people were known for “skinny dipping” and oh my, how they panicked. Don’t worry, nobody was ever hurt; neither the people nor the shark.
Sharks do quite well in brackish water, lemon sharks are relatively small and somewhat harmless (although they do like to “nip at toes”) and if the shark didn’t eventually make its way back to the ocean through the tributaries, Game and water control authorities would take it back.
I also grew up within fifteen miles of the Florida Everglades and did all kind of things there. I had an uncle with a cabin there and we went out there and did hunting and fishing of everything you can think of. But that’s for another story.
One of the most popular places to fish was a canal which ran directly from the great Lake Okeechobee. It was great fishing but difficult to access and known for rattle snakes, cotton mouth water moccasins, coral snakes, alligators and Alligator Gar Fish. If you could deal with all of those possibilities and could afford a box of earth worms or some Missouri minnows and a pound of bacon, you could catch lots of Cat fish, Blue gills (we call them Bream there) and even Bass. My Dad and I would often go and catch enough for a pretty good fish fry. As we say in the South, Mmmm good; yes sir-ree Bob. (I know terrible English).
On one particular Saturday, my Dad and I headed out early and found a great spot. Gators were diving in so we knew there was fish but they didn’t swim across for us because they knew there was a very busy highway behind us. Gators aren’t that dumb even if they’re brain is as small as a walnut.
I was about fourteen years old and beginning to think I knew everything about everything; a typical teen. Dad kept telling me over and again, “Watch out for Gars and snakes”.
Hub 1 of 30 in the Hub Challenge
I got a big one
Almost immediately upon putting our “Cane poles” with hooks and bobbers in the water, the fish started “bitten” (that’s biting for those of you not fluent in “Southern-eze”) and oh the fun we were having.
But then it happened, my “bobber” went down and started moving, fast and I pulled back on the poll but could not stop the movement. I yelled out to my Dad, “I got a big one, I got a big one”. Dad said, “Cut it loose, you can’t pull that up with a cane poll”. I continued arguing and saying, I could and struggling with the poll while Dad was telling me not to fall in and try not to lose the poll.
Finally, I pulled with all my might and yanked up hard on the poll and at the end of the poll were several fish and three large Cotton Mouth Moccasin snakes. I was frightened beyond description and just hoping none of the snakes would fall off the hook and onto me. Cotton mouths are extremely poison and death occurs pretty fast. My Dad was watching the whole thing trying to tell me to throw the whole thing in the water. He was almost paralyzed with fear himself. He knew I was in a real predicament.
In an effort to rid myself of this very dangerous situation, I tried to throw this mix match of snakes and fish into the canal but due to the weight of the snakes the whole thing went in the opposite direction and ended up in the middle of the busy highway of “Tamiami Trail” (a highway which runs from Miami to Tampa, Florida). Traffic was stopping and thank God, a large truck ran over the snakes and killed them.
I was never so glad to lose a fishing pole and go home in my life. My Dad and I took the fish we caught and got in our car and headed home. We laughed all the way home.
My Dad now almost eighty two years old enjoys telling this story to this day. He always enjoys telling me that, he told me so.
That’s the story of the “three that didn’t get away”.
©Copyright 2012 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III
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