Thursday, April 28, 2011

How to Catch a Seagull

During our first year of marriage, Cheri and I lived in Daytona Beach, Florida.  We rented an old house on the Halifax River for a few months.  The house didn’t have central air conditioning, but there was one room that had a window unit.  The kitchen was from the 1950’s, and had a top loading dishwasher, something I had never seen.  We kept the windows open, and the breeze would blow in from the river, making the house pretty comfortable at night.  But sleeping with the windows open, we could hear the noise from the Daytona Speedway, and there was a noisy party cruiser that came down the river pretty regularly.

The house had a large, beautiful back porch, with steps down to a walkway that led to a long boat dock that was part of the property.  Being newlyweds, we didn’t have the money for a boat, but I did have my fishing tackle.  I didn’t have anything fancy, and had no experience with saltwater fishing.  I would get some fishing tips from the locals that came into my Sherwin Williams paint store that I managed, so I tried my hand at fishing in the evenings.

Most of the time, I would use shrimp or mullet as bait.  Sometimes I could see a school of bluefish swimming along the water, but I never caught any of those.  I had great success in catching catfish and stingray, neither of which I wanted to catch, but it was better than nothing.  The stingrays would fight like bass as I reeled them in, but each time I caught one, I would lose a hook.  I wasn’t about to try to get the hook out of its mouth.  I just cut the line and somehow managed to slide the stingray off the pier and back into the water.

One evening, John, a friend from college who lived in Winter Park, was visiting for dinner, and we were fishing off the end of the boat dock.  I had put a mullet on my hook and was casting the bait out into the water.  While the bait was soaring through the air, a seagull swooped in and caught the bait, hook and all.  He tried to fly away with it, but I wasn’t willing to depart with my rod and reel, so I starting trying to reel him in. 

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever caught a bird this way, but they are stronger and more stubborn than most fish, and the battle was on.  As I was trying to reel him in, John and I were discussing how we would dislodge the hook from the seagull.  John was a part-time deputy sheriff, and decided this would be a good opportunity to use his revolver.  As he ran to his car to get his gun, Cheri made it clear that she wasn’t going to have any of that.  She didn’t want John to shoot the bird, and also didn’t want to have to dispose of a dead seagull.  So before John came back, I cut the line and let the seagull fly away.

I had never thought of fishing for birds.  I had tried salting a bird’s tail when I was a child, but I found out that was a load of bull that someone told me.  A mullet and a fish hook worked pretty well, though.  I can also tell you how to catch an owl, but that’ll have to be another story …

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