Six months and a transfer later, we met again when he was transferred into my outfit. Over the next few months we would grow to be best of friends while we hunted, trapped muskrats, and fished together. He was from Iowa and knew his stuff when it came to hunting and freshwater fishing. I was from Florida and complimented the saltwater side of the equation. When my Marine tour was up and I returned from Vietnam, I got out. When his tour was up, he stayed in and made a career of it, retiring in 1987 as a captain.
Did you ever fish or hunt with someone whose every move you could predict? And at the same time, he could predict yours? Well to this day we have that kind of simpatico. When we're in a boat, we each seem to be able to move and act almost without comment and do the things that need to be done - always in the right place with a net or a gaff - always setting an anchor with just a nod - able to move over and under each other when we both have a fish on.
I have dozens of stories about our fishing trials and tribulations, and maybe they will eventually all end up on these archives. But this one trip was something special.
It was 1972, and John had taken some leave to visit me in Miami. We took off for Flamingo in Everglades National Park, where my Dad had set up housekeeping for two weeks in one of the park's fully equipped cabins. Of all the times we had previously fished together, we never had a chance at a jewfish. John had heard all the stories, seen the pictures, even helped me make some leaders out of aircraft control cable. But never had we fished for one. But this trip gave us the opportunity.
We had the tides estimated perfectly as we followed the slack tide from east to west. It was on Marker 6, a five pole pyramid marker south of Carl Ross Key, that we had finally anchored. We hooked a live snapper on the 12/0 hook and handline, and pitched it toward the bottom of the marker. We had just let the rope settle and had a slip knot tied, when the rope began to move steadily out and under the marker...
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