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Fishing Florida Bay For Prozac

Blame it on the bonefish faction.

I admit, it was a fisher of bonefish who put the unfortunate idea into my head, who led me into the perils of lobster politics. He predicted that the lobster mini-season would pile up human fatalities. Indeed they did. Five dead. I was impressed. Those five fatalities represented five times the average number of Florida game hunters killed every year as they stumble around the woods with powerful semi-automatic rifles.

The premise was correct. But the reaction, from mini-season devotees (just now sober enough after their lobster hootenanny to peck out an e-mail) was unkind. Lots of salty language. Several references compared my intelligence to the spiny lobster. Thanks to that damn column, my special status as an esteemed beloved folk hero of the alcohol-impaired was seriously damaged.

I should have known not to listen to a some, what? I'm not sure of the term. Bonefish fisherman? Bonefisherman? Bonefish angler? Whatever the correct term, they are well known as the manic depressives of water sports.

For hours, in pursuit of their passion, they remain dispassionately erect in the bow of little boats, in water so shallow that you can spit into the water and raise a cloud of dirt, hoping for a glimpse of an elusive, inedible ghost-like fish, the mythical Albula vulpes, which may or may not exist. I've never seen any evidence. But they just stand there, while the ultraviolet light sizzles their retinas. No moving around the boat. No gulping beer -- the can might drop and frighten the fishies. No laughing aloud. They just stand at attention on their boat looking about as joyful as mourners at a funeral, as reticent as secret service agents guarding the prez, about as much fun as watching C-Span sober. Venturing onto the water with someone obsessed with the gray phantom of the mud flats is like going to a Ingmar Bergman movies with an geek cinema aficionado.

To think, in a moment of weakness, I was unduly influenced by a bonefisherman's complaint about mayhem called the lobster mini season. I knew. I should have known, anyway, that the that the real reason bonefishermen despise the mini-season, and its mass invasion of drunken, hapless divers, has nothing to do with the self-inflicted dangers or the damage to the reefs or the crowded waters on those two mad days or the general rowdiness when they come ashore. Its that bonefishermen hate anyone who might send a ripple across the glassy surface on Florida Bay. They hate any unexpected sound. They hate anything that splashes. They hate the wind near as much as they hate people. They hate anything that might send their notoriously antsy fish zipping away.

I'm assuming bonefisherman have some smidgen of humanity. They might, for instance, tolerate a sleeping child locked in a sound-proof room. Other forms of the species are merely irritants. Besides, bonefisherman, on those rare and perhaps apocryphal occasions when they claim to actually catch a bonefish (no evidence exists other than some possibly photo-shopped snapshots), they proceed (supposedly) to unhook the fish and toss it back into the water.

Lobsters guys, meanwhile, keep what they catch. Good eating. Especially with a Jack Daniels chaser.

No wonder bonefish fisherman develop that incessant faraway stare and that glum outlook. They're consumed with lobster envy. 


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