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

The Pleasure of Fishing: Curious coincidences

Much like the Griswolds, the Parkers learn their way around town

By Bill Walsh

Thursday, August 3, 2006 (Naples Daily News)

Remember the movie starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold where he takes the family on an ill-fated vacation to Wally World only to find it closed?

I think we found a fishing episode that will give that classic story a run for it's money.

The story really begins over a year ago. A nice family from rural Ohio (we'll call them the Parkers to protect the innocent) vacationed in Southwest Florida for the first time and loved it. Among all the other activities on their one week stay, they chartered my boat for a fishing trip.

They had a good time and the trip was nothing out of the ordinary except for one thing. They were fascinated with the number of rental boats on the water that day and asked all kinds of questions. They wanted to handle the boat and fishing trip on their own but you could just sense a great hesitancy.

Even assuring them that the process was safe and that the rental folks "had never lost anyone" you could still sense a fear.

"What are you guys afraid of?" was the question I finally asked.


Upon inquiry they acknowledged that Clark was the nickname they endearingly gave their dad, which was short for Clark Griswold, a.k.a. Chevy Chase, on vacation.

One of the daughters volunteered that on a family vacation to a Midwestern lake the prior year, the throttle on their dad's small rental skiff got stuck open and terrorized the other vacationers on the lake with an episode of what they affectionally called "Bumper Boats." The boat-rental company eventually took the keys away from him.

And as they continued on, that was just one of many hair-raising episodes that "Clark" created for them. With that, I kind of dropped the rental boat thing¤...¤no use putting the family in jeopardy again.

That was almost a year ago and I had completely forgotten the trip and the issues. That is until the phone rang two weeks ago: "Remember us, the Parker's from Ohio?¤With the father that we nicknamed Clark?" The light went on.

"Thought you guys were going to rent a boat this time around"

"We did. That's why we're calling you," was the unexpected retort.

"What happened?"

'We'll tell you when we see you. Do you have any dates open later this week?" they asked with a sense of urgency.

Just so happened that I did have an open morning later in the week, booked them and couldn't wait to hear their story.

As we started on our charter trip, Mr. Parker just sat there in sort of a catatonic state as his kids and wife related the detail of the ill-fated rental-boat trip.

They rented a comfortable, safe pontoon boat and had received precise instructions and charts from the marina staff to which Mr. Parker had eagerly nodded that he totally understood.

Once on the water, the family explained, he became an entirely different person. Like one possessed by water devils and the Ancient Mariner.

His first trick that morning was to roar into Capri Pass and out into the Gulf going hellbent due west looking for Keeywadin Beach which, unfortunately, was due north. As he passed the Sea Buoy other boats waved at him to infer his wayward course. "Clark" just waved back.

The kids said they must have been three or four miles at sea before he recognized that he was heading for Mexico — not Naples and turned around.

He finally found the Intercoastal Waterway markers to Naples and revved the boat to make up lost time. Then he saw what he thought was a short cut across the flats and within minutes put the boat aground on a sandbar.

"Clark", true to form, put them all in the water as he stood at the helm and encouraged them to "Heave to, me hearties" till they were back in the channel.

They all thought that maybe this was the end of the antics as they finally made it to the beach for a little shelling. As they neared the beach, "Clark" seemingly recalled the instructions to put the pontoon firmly on the beach lest it drift off in the strong tidal current.

His approach must have reminded those watching of a military amphibious landing. He hit the beach at no less than flank speed catapulting his son into the air and onto the picnic gathering of the folks on the beach from the boat alongside. Fortunately, there were no injuries, just apologies and embarrassments.

The girls went shelling and Dad and his son finally got a chance to go fishing from the stern of a well-beached boat.

"Clark" practiced his long-range casting. His tosses were well out into the navigational channel parallel to the beach. He was unconcerned and proud of the distance casts. That is, until he hooked the bimini top of a passing boat and watched helplessly as his lure and line melted away while the hooked boat just drove past without acknowledging his frantic calls to stop.

The kids were exhausted from laughing but they had to tell one more story. They had finished their excursion fishing the Capri Pass a.k.a Catfish Heaven. The cats were big and non-stop and "Clark" was rather adept in flipping them off the hook and back into the water. That is, until he flipped a big one too energetically and it landed in his daughter's handbag perched up on the helm.

Envision the mayhem as they tried to get the catfish overboard and remove the slime from the daughter's belongings.

Our ensuing charter trip was dull and uneventful in comparison. We caught enough fish for a family dinner and there were no incidents.

That was enough to make a mediocre day a roaring success. Even "Clark" felt that we had reached Wally World and it was open!

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