When the trip was booked I was told they just wanted to catch some fish, see the sights and would be down in late February.
The 12th and 13th had been very cold with heavy north winds. Day 14, D-Day dawned clear, cold, cloudless. High bluebird skies barometric pressure days directly after a Florida cold snap usually means tough fishing for a day or more.
Arriving early, I prepared the boat dockside and stored eight rods vertically in their holders. It's been said I'm a bit OCD when it comes to clean and orderly boats and I'll admit it's true. When you grow up with little you learn to appreciate what you have.
Capt. George Tunison
Moments later, a large black limo rolls up to the docks at Matlacha Park. The driver gets out and opens the back door. Instantly, a very excited 12-year-old springs from the limo carrying two large bags of newly acquired lures, gadgets and gear in one hand and two spanking new very expensive rod and reel combos in the other.
As his father called out to him to slow down he sprinted straight to the dock, brand new fishing shoes caked full of launching ramp grime, grit and sand and asked, "Are you our captain?"
Before I fully finished saying "Yes" he jumped over the foot-wiping mat I placed on the dock, entered the boat skidding across the deck and in the process almost blinded my one remaining good eye with his rod tips. Ended up with a nice red open scrape in my right eyebrow and felt lucky.
Within 45 seconds he had made two muddy circuits of the boat and was now pulling my $300 outfits from their holders and replacing them with his new $500 outfits that had not yet been spooled. At that point he dumps the contents of the two bags on the deck and asks me coldly, "When can we get this stuff ready?"
It's a six-hour booking. At this point there are five hours, 56 minutes remaining. Taking a deep breath I tried to gather myself as I held a rag to my brow and shook hands with Dad, who informed me that, "My son would like to start out by catching some tarpon. If we can just get him three or four I'm sure he'll be happy! He really wants to use his own things so if you could make that happen it would be great."
After explaining that I already fully explained previously about the seasons and what to expect, certainly not tarpon, he still agreed to go. Spending the next 20 minutes rigging his equipment we got underway hoping to find some trout.
Ten minutes into the first fishless drift I could see the boy getting agitated. Fifteen minutes he was very upset and angry and starting to lose concentration. Assurances from Dad did nothing as he got angrier. Finally he got a bite and missed it.
With a loud scream he turned beet red, threw the rod in the water then fell to the deck while Dad begged him to stop. which only agitated him further.
Finally gaining some control Dad whispered urgently, "We should go."
We headed for the dock where the limo waited. The boy jumped from the boat, turned and screamed, "Thanks a lot, jerk!" and ran to the car.
Dad stuffed five $100 bills in my hand as I gathered their highend gear. "Keep it!" and in a flash was gone.
Five hours left. Went fishing.