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Captain Bill Walsh
Dawn Patrol Charter Fishing
Marco Island, Florida
Phone: (239) 394-0608
In business since 1992 !!

The day a fishing trip became a communal event
By Bill Walsh

Thursday, December 28, 2006 (Marco News)

One of the "Ten Thousand Wonders" of sportfishing is that you can do it all by your lonesome and still enjoy the event immensely.

Now, fishing as a party of one, certainly may not constitute the majority of fishing trips, but I'll bet it makes up a good 20 to 30 percent of them. The next time you're out, check out the number of people you see that are solo.

Try that percentage of loners against the number of singles banging the little white ball down the fairway heck, hardly none, as the starters join 'em up at the first tee. Then, of course, there is tennis where going it alone is an impossibility; as it is with bowling, softball, etc., and most other sports.

So fishing has a distinct advantage as to the number of options available for participants enjoying the sport alone or together.

But I'll bet most never heard of it going the other way making it a shared or, in essence, a communal event.

Well, a trip last week was just that!

The players in our little drama were two wild-and-crazy guys from Naples. Recently released from the bondage of corporate toil, Jack and Harry (names changed to protect the innocent) were spanking-new early retirees. They were like kids in a candy store with all this leisure time and money to finally do all the things they dreamed about, for all those years, at the corporate staff meetings.

Their focus was centered on fishing at least for the moment.

Of Midwestern venue, our heroes had put in their hours jigging walleye lakes; pulling flashers and J-Plugs for salmon on the Great Lakes and even had credits for chasing pike and muskies and evading skeeters in the Canadian wilderness during many a summer.

All that, but nary a whisp of experience with fishing the salt. But they were here to learn all they could of this new world and attitudinally, were as loose as a goose.

As witness to that fact, Jack made it clear that he wanted to catch a snook. He had heard and read all this banter about the legendary snook and wanted to partake. Before I even had a chance to respond, Harry cut in and told him, "Cool it, Jack. Just catch you a sea trout or something and I'll draw a black line down the side with a magic marker and we'll call it a snook. How's that?"

"Real funny," Jack retorted. "Captain, I'm dead serious about getting a snook!"

After that, I didn't have the guts to tell Jack that our chances of catching our snook were slim on this particular afternoon. After all, the water was decidedly murky, the incoming tide was extremely weak and, to top it all off, we had no live bait.

But off we went. The first hours were spent untangling lines and extracting lures from bushes and trees. Harry told Jack that if he crossed his line again, the captain would present him with "The Master Tangler Award." Comedians, huh?

Time rolled on and we hadn't done much that is, until Jack tried to remove a mangrove snapper by grabbing him by the lower lip a la smallmouth bass. With a primeval scream, he found out what the "snapper" name was all about as the fish's fangs penetrated his thumbnail. Harry didn't even laugh at that one at least until later.

Then Jack hooked up and landed a nice, albeit undersize, redfish with much ado and flourish. He swept up the fish for photos and posed him so the fish would look world-record huge, or so he thought.

Then Harry deftly grabbed the fish and they switched roles Harry the catcher and Jack the photog. To top it off, Harry posed the fish exactly the same way. These guys were actually sharing (and taking credit for) the catch. This was a communal event!

And that ceremony took place again and again with small snapper, a wayward flounder and a misguided puffer fish. No matter who caught what, they both got credit all with rounds of guffaws and raucous laughter.

Then the coup de grace: Harry caught a snook. They both marveled and acted like they had just won the Super Bowl. But this really wasn't a snook to get excited over. It was just over a foot long just a little baby.

That made no matter. There was Jack with photos; Harry with photos both staging for max fish size, with me urging speed so we could get this little guy back in the water. We slipped the snook back in the water and these guys high-fived again.

They both had a ball jostling with one another as we finished the trip. Keeper wise, we had a handful of snapper, but, more importantly, they had two digital cameras loaded with pictures of themselves with each other's fish.

We wound up the afternoon with good humor, handshakes and nods of satisfaction all around. They had accomplished their mission(s).

The culmination went down a couple of days later when Harry copied me on an e-mail he sent his kids/grandkids, then submerged in Midwestern whiteouts, transmitting the pictures of all "his" catches quite boastfully. The staged fish pics looked goofy with Harry's hands bigger than the fish.

Two days later, I got an e-mail from Jack doing exactly the same thing with the same fish!

Sure hope the kids don't end up at the same New Year's Eve party, showing off the pictures of their parental fishermen!

Capt. Bill Walsh owns an established Marco Island charter fishing business and holds a current U.S. Coast Guard license. Send comments or questions to

Fishing Marco Island, Everglades, Naples, the 10,000 Islands, Florida