November 23, 2014

A good day for lizard fishing...

The plan was to go fishing that afternoon, catch the incoming tide as it washed through the mangroves, maybe get lucky with snook. But the thunderheads started building after lunch, and by the time we got to the marina the lightning was crashing all around. I have yet in my life to get lucky with snook.

"We could wait and see if it clears up," I said to Hinman, not really all that enthusiastic about the prospect. I've been knocked down twice by Florida lightning. Not direct hits, but close enough once to singe my hands. The other time I was closing a window-a metal-frame window-when I saw the transformer on a utility pole in the front yard erupt in sparks and watched, frozen and dumb, as the lightning danced to the house and along the gutter and down toward the window frame. The next thing I knew I was flat on my back on the living room floor and my sons were standing there, the two of them laughing at me. They were just little kids then. Else I would have swatted them.

So, yes, I have been lucky with lightning.

"Yeah, we could wait out the storm," said Hinman. "Or we could just say to hell with it and go lizard fishing."

Lizard fishing? Sounded like some kind of snipe-hunting scam to me, a fool's gambit, and I don't much appreciate being played for the fool. But a few minutes later, there we were, sitting on Hinman's back porch with a spool of kite twine and a hamburger patty that Hinman had taken out of the freezer and held under hot water until it was soft. There was beer involved, too. Like I said, it was after lunch and the day was already shot.

I watched Hinman cut a 15-foot length of twine. He made a few twists in one end of the twine until it sported a pea-sized knot.

"I could use a hook to catch the lizards, but that would be unsporting," Hinman said. "The knot alone will snag them."

He took a tiny hunk of hamburger and molded it around the knot. He tied the other end of the twine around an index finger. Then he tossed the baited end toward the edge of the porch, near a croton hedge.

"That's my honey hole," said Hinman.

"You gotta be kidding me."

"Just watch," said Hinman.

We watched. Nothing happened. More beer became involved. Hinman shared his theory that this part of Florida is being overrun with lizards.

"We've always had them, but I swear to God there are more of them now than ever," Hinman said. "You got your anoles and you got your skinks and now we've even got these lizards coming up out of Cuba grow 15 inches long and scare dogs. What I wouldn't give to catch one of them on light tackle."

Hinman twitched his index finger and the hamburger bait bobbed along the porch. Yet even more beer became involved. It began to rain harder, and with the rain came more lightning. Hinman reeled in the twine and cast the bait beside a banana tree. We sat and watched some more.

Like all forms of fishing, lizard fishing involves long stretches of tedium interspersed with moments of...

"I GOT ONE!" shouted Hinman.

He yanked on the twine and a lizard-a green anole, if you want to get technical-landed in Hinman's lap. I don't know whose eyes were gaping bigger, mine or the lizard's.

"There, there, little buddy," said Hinman.

He tugged gently on the twine and the lizard disgorged the knot, minus the hamburger. Hinman held the lizard by its tail and put it down by the croton hedge. It sat there, puffing up and shaking its throat flap, reclaiming its dignity before scampering away.

"I practice catch and release," said Hinman. "It's only sporting."

"Not to mention they would be tough to fillet," I said, already cutting myself a length of twine and tying a knot in it and applying the hamburger.

Sometime much later it got dark and the beer was all gone. Far be it from me to brag, but the final tally was Hinman two and me three.

Lucky with lizards, lucky with lightning. Beats heck out of no luck at all...