Nonfiction / Memoir / Fishing
Date Published: June 26, 2022
Publisher: Mindstir Media
The crew welcomes you aboard the Twister, one of the finest fishing vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, as the search is on for the big ones that legends are made of. Blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, swordfish, and more are waiting to be caught, just so long as Bob and his friends have the strength to reel them in.
Told in a fun, engaging style, this book combines elements of drama, heroism, and skill with humor and some educational points about the sea and its inhabitants, with plenty of surprises along the way.
The stories will make you feel like you are out on the water yourself getting ready to land that next great catch you'll be talking about for the rest of your life. Experienced seamen and land lubbers alike will enjoy this peek into one of the good parts of life with all of its promises and perils.
The use of the word Tales in the subtitle is a play on the word "Tails" that matches the Goliath Grouper on the front cover. When you look into the mouth of the Grouper, we hope you'll want to look inside this exciting collection of tales.
About the Author
A FLICKER IN THE WATER (Inside The Tales) is my second published work. The first one being a book of poems called “Eagle Claws For Freedom’s Cause”. The latter being so well received it provided the impetus to write this second book. I have always enjoyed the outdoors especially deep sea fishing and wanted this book to focus on those stories. I was born in New York City and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania where the most popular outdoor sport was Whitetail Deer Hunting. Maybe I will write about those stories in a future book. I now live in Florida, where I still enjoy sports of all kinds. Hopefully one day soon I will get to see the Tampa Bay Rays win the World Series. But for now, I will keep myself busy pursuing then writing about landing the “Big Ones”.
Inside the Tales
The water was brightly lit, reflecting
the Tuna’s iridescent colors off of their elongated muscular bodies as we
arrived at sunset. Getting to the offshore oil rigs, our fishing destination
had been no easy journey.
An eight-hour trek through an
unpredictable yet calm sea. On the way we had managed to land a bull dolphin.
In Spanish they are called dorado. An apt name that perfectly captures the
golden essence of their beautiful mul-ticolored skin tone with differing
vibrant shades of blue, green and striking yellow capped off by a flat squared
bulging head creating a color combination as diverse and beautiful as any fish
in the sea. Most know them as mahi -mahi, a Hawaiian term that means “very
strong.” The bull, a male had a companion with him, a female called a cow. Male
lions are the kings of the jungle, but in the world’s oceans females wear the
crown, reigning supreme. Captain Mike had made the trip many times before, but
even an experienced seaman cannot help getting those little butterflies in the
pit of his stomach as the departure time draws closer. The excited anticipation
of what could happen good or bad when leaving the dock is a
different-yet-no-less-satisfying feeling than a successful trip’s return. Filling
the coolers with ice, rigging bait, setting the rods and reels
to the proper length and drag are all necessary tasks to be done ahead of time,
because as any fisherman knows you want to be ready when you get that
make-or-break strike. Which as every fisherman who has ever told tales also
knows happens each time you put your baits in the water. Doing these required
tasks for the Twister’s crew team would be Troby (known as Drawbridge to his
friends). Drawbridge was an experienced fisherman who had more stories to tell
than Popeye the sailor man, only he did not derive his strength from spinach.
Drawbridge was a jovial fellow with the look of an experienced fisherman
written on the lines of his face, who like many seamen had an unquenchable
thirst for the suds, which often led to some amusing and at times
not-so-amusing circumstances. There was never a bridge Drawbridge did not want
to cross or a fish he didn’t like to eat (once comparing the taste of a tiger
shark’s liver to a chocolate bar). Drawbridge’s father had been an airline
pilot for a major airline, before becoming an early settler in Destin while it
was still known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”
Drawbridge spent a lot of his childhood
traveling the world through the air.
Choosing for himself as an adult to
travel by water. Also joining the crew was Gary, a local kid who had grown up
fishing the local waters. Bob Jr. a former ballplayer who enjoyed all aspects
of the seaman’s experience from preparation to scrubbing the boat down after a
long run. Bob Jr.’s favorite baseball memory was of a home run he hit in a
championship game. “I still don’t know how that ball traveled so far. It felt
like the ball slipped off the bat, it must have gotten caught up in a favorable
wind current.” In baseball like at sea it’s better traveling when the currents
are in your favor.
Bob Jr. hailed from the mountains of
Northeast Pennsylvania. He and Bob Sr. fished for bluefish off the coast of New
Jersey every summer. Bob Jr. likes to retell the story that brought him of age
as a fisherman, the first Bluefish he reeled in by himself at age nine. The
warrior in him came alive, refusing to hand the rod off. “It was going to be
the fish or me,” he likes to say. Bob Jr. had taken a renewed special interest
not wanting to call it outright pride in his gaffing. Line up the gaff to the
fish then give it a quick short snatch instead of lunging at the fish. He would
say, “You won’t get them all but your batting average will
definitely improve. His love of gaffing was born out of a near miss of a 100lb.
wahoo that had somehow managed to slip off the hook after repeated gaff
attempts (by others), the shockwaves of which felt like a harpoon had lodged
itself in his heart, needing to be carefully removed. Bob Sr. was the boat’s
principal owner. Bob Sr. is not your typical sit in the chair, content to reel
in the fish kind of a boat owner.
Bob Sr. likes to get his hands dirty with
everyone else. He once caught a giant albacore tuna off the shores of Barnegat
Light New Jersey on an old party boat called “Doris Mae” that won him the day’s
pool prize. The pool prize was a potluck all the day’s fishermen contributed to
before heading out for the day. Barnegat Light was known for their catches of
bluefish in the summer and cod in winter. Bob Sr. had been on such a hot streak
He caught a 42 lb. red snapper three
pounds shy of the Florida state record and a 60 lb. grouper all within ten
minutes of each other. Having grown up in Cuba, Bob Sr. spent much of his
childhood on the ocean; he learned how to swim before he could walk. In the
tradition of fishermen of that day he started fishing with an old school hand
line. The crusty fishermen, many of whom made their living with their hand
lines developed hands so calloused they felt like sandpaper to the touch. But
their hands were really tender when it came to working a fish. As a ten year
old in Santiago de Cuba, Bob Sr. caught his first fish on a hand line, a tarpon
who at the time weighed as much as he did 80 lbs. within view of the EL Morro
Castle, the stately looking fort sitting at the mouth of “La Bahia de
Santiago.” Bob Sr. put a rope through the fish’s gills, threw the fish over his
shoulder, the fish’s tail dragging on the ground behind him. The experience
would come in handy (literally) years later when he had a three-sided treble
hook get stuck in his finger when he brought a kicking bull mahi on board. Each
time the mahi kicked the treble lodged itself deeper and deeper. After subduing
the fish, we used a wire cutter to slice the steel hook pulling it out of his
finger. Bob Sr. didn’t flinch. We bandaged his finger, applied some ointment
with a dose of hydrogen peroxide, and continued fishing without skipping a
Little did Bob Sr. know his recent hot
streak was about to continue. This was no ordinary bottom fishing trip they
were embarking on. No, sir, this time around they were after
one of the sea’s toughest competitors. Tuna are known as being finicky feeders,
and on this day they lived up to their well deserved reputation. Arriving at
dusk you could see their stout bodies pro-truding from the water in a way that
said, “yeah, we know you’re here. Now see if you can catch us.” Tuna are so
unpredictable many times they don’t even let you approach them without going
under water, losing themselves in the depths without a trace to be seen. There
hasn’t been a depth finder made yet they haven’t been able to outrun. To catch
them, we tried, then tried, then tried again. Nine long hours had passed since
the tuna began teasing us. Up to now they were winning the battle of wills in
the depths of the 5,000 feet we were fishing. They gave us no indication that
they were even still around, seeming to have disappeared. In the interim a few
cases of beer, which would have tasted much better with some freshly caught raw
tuna fish as a side dish, had been consumed. Innate in the fishermen’s nature
is the pleasure of believing the fish always tastes better when it’s caught
with his own hand, the pursuit accomplished.
Drawbridge had on a past voyage had a
harrowing experience with a boatload of beer. Drawbridge was commissioned with
delivery of a vessel from Destin Florida to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, California,
where he and his team were going to fish in a marlin tournament. In years gone
by Drawbridge had won first prize in this tournament, leading the pack weighing
in a grander blue marlin. The boat’s owner was a builder who built condominiums
all along the Gulf coast. Drawbridge was always proud, not boastful, just proud
the winning grander he landed was measured by girth and length being hung in
the entrance way of the first condo his boss built. He could be heard saying
from time to time, “Oh yeah, when my dad helped settle Holiday Isle, he never
dreamed his son would leave a lasting legacy to carry on his family name.” On
this current excursion things would take on a decidedly different twist. No one
really knows how or why, but legend has it the boat Drawbridge commandeered was
loaded with cases of beer from bow to stern with only enough space to walk from
the bridge to the bathroom through a narrow aisle down below. He and his
girlfriend Gail set sail in what was thought to be balmy, ideal conditions,
feet up enjoying a brand new day’s sunrise. As is often the case, Mother Nature
makes plans of her own on short notice, rarely if ever consulting anyone about
them. Crossing the Florida Straits at nightfall can be delightful with a
following sea allowing tired hard working engines a temporary reprieve.
The vast current propelling the boat
forward. Going against those same currents can often be a challenging if not
downright horrifying experience, as Drawbridge and Gail would soon find out.
EL Morro Castle overlooking the bay of
Santiago de Cuba. Santiago was once the capital city of Cuba. The fort was
built to protect the city from pirates in the 1600s. Today it is used as a
museum, culminating each day at sunset with a ceremonial firing of the cannon.
This is where Bob Sr. caught his first tarpon with an old fashioned hand line.
The view overlooking Santiago de Cuba
from atop from El Morro Castle.
According to UNESCO, it is the best
preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.
The view is not too shabby either!