We lived in Eastern North Carolina close to the coast at the time. We were only there for a year, but in that period of time we made life long friends with our next door neighbors. Sam and Edie were both school teachers, and Sam had a license to guide surf fishermen on the Outer Banks. To this day he beats me fishing no matter where we are.
We moved back to South Florida at the end of that year, some 30 years ago, and every year since then Sam and I have fished together at least once each year. It was on one of these fishing trips that this story was rooted.
Sam had tinkered with some custom rod building in the past and had watched me repair and re-wrap some guides on my rods. On one trip to Florida he offered to build me a custom spinning rod, which he did and brought with him on his next trip down. It was a Lamiglass blank with an Aftco reel seat and Fuji guides, a nice super-fast taper spinning rod for 15 pound line.
We fished the day he got there out of Flamingo in Everglades National Park. We did not have a lot of luck and ended up just trying to stay out of the gale force winds that we were trying to fish around. Throughout the whole day I tried to pick the new rod up and fish with it. Sam refused to let me do that. It was his desire that the rod be broken in right and that could only happen if a fish were caught on the very first cast I made with it - not a trash fish mind you, but a good fish, like a snook, or a trout or a redfish. He wanted to wait until we really got into some fish so the chances of a fish on the first cast were the greatest.
The day lingered on with virtually no fish, and we ended up in East Cape Canal on the southeast tip of Florida. This is a man-made deep canal that was dug in the 30's in an attempt to drain the water off the marshes to reclaim the land - a South Florida land boom mistake.
Tied to a mangrove tree, we sat and discussed the merits of fishing on a bad day. A guide from Flamingo came up the canal with a fishing party of three and tied up about 30 yards from us. They began casting and catching redfish on the undercut bank caused by the outgoing tide. In a matter or 20 minutes they had caught and released about 20 reds. We sat and watched - and then it struck me. The new rod!! now's my chance. But before I could get the rod ready, the fish quit as fast as they started, and the guide left.
We sat a while longer, talking about all our fishing experiences together and then decided it was time to make the 30 minute run to the dock for the 2 hour drive home.
I figured I may as well try the rod anyway, because I was still dying to use it. I tied on an old yellow bucktail jig that was laying in the boat. I didn't even bother with a leader. I walked to the back of the boat and cast the jig up stream into the feeder creek next to us. WHAM - the fish hit on the second crank of the handle - a nice 4 pound seatrout!! I was never more surprised in my life. And as many years as I had fished in East Cape Canal - I had never heard of any trout being caught.
I still have that rod after over 20 years, and I still fish with it occasionally. But mostly I just admire it and think about things like friendship, and caring - and a 4 pound seatrout that was in the wrong place at just the right time!
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