FISH AMERICA: Heatstroke and Aimless Wandering

My main challenge at the moment is the heat. Down here in the South, it's hot. I mean they have a different kind of hot than a kid who has spent his life between the latitudes of Utica, New York and Hoboken, New Jersey is accustomed to. I mean like dripping-sweat, can't-escape-it, am-I-in-an-oven heat. Everything black on my jeep is somewhere between scalding and melted between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. I can't say for sure without an autopsy, but I think a stickbug I found on the hood of my jeep died from heat stroke. You can blast the A.C. for twenty minutes and wonder how you're still hot. If you're so hot you want to jump off the boat, think twice, the water temperatures are around 90 degrees in some of the Florida bays I've been fishing. There are nights when you put the pedal down, thinking there must be an edge to this heat somewhere, and if you go fast enough you can find it, but you can't.

But it's worth it, because it's twice as incredible as it is difficult. Some days, between fishing expeditions, you just look at an atlas, and find a place that looks as if it has the potential for breathtaking beauty, plug it into the GPS, and go. And most times, you're right. Pictured here is Anna Maria, Florida, which looked like it was about as far as I could get into the Gulf of Mexico without getting a four-stroke and a bilge pump for the Jeep. I found this pier, where it looks like the Southern sky might just stretch straight into forever.

And it's bizarre. Thanks to the incredible hospitality and kindness of Laura and Robert Day, I spent two nights absolutely spoiled in Apollo Beach, Florida this week, enjoying amenities like homemade breakfasts and Key Lime pie. But for two weeks prior I spent all but one night in my jeep, and you develop an odd sort of rhythm and comfort that you never imagined you might. And waking up in a bed has never felt so strange as it did Saturday and Sunday morning of this past week. And watching a TV from a couch has never felt so surreal.

So far, I've learned that you can get used to anything, and the amazing almost always outweighs the arduous.