Fish America: The Water Waits

Bruce Pollock was a plumber in Buffalo, New York who visited the Keys to fish before he had a faulty intestinal patch put inside him that became infected, necessitating 12 surgeries in 11 months, causing him a great deal of pain, and in less medical terms, making his life suck.

Pat Ogburn grew up fishing and hunting in the marshes of Alabama, and wound up working in Real Estate in Mobile. Complications resulting from a surgery caused him a great deal of pain and discomfort over a long period of time. I'll shy away from the details surrounding a bladder surgery, but let it suffice to say this guy is tougher than I'll ever be.

As Bruce continues to struggle with the ramifications of his infection, he has made the full-time move to Islamorada, and he fishes and guides daily in a place he loves. He lives on an island where the sky stretches forever and changes every morning.

Because saltwater fishing, which accounted for most of his angling adventures, was too difficult for Pat in the state of pain that resulted from his surgery, he found solace in the cypress swamps of the Mobile River, and has been chasing catfish, bowfin and bass in the messy, muddy, beautiful Alabama water every week ever since.

Running through water less than a foot deep with sunlight trickling through the treetops, dodging spider webs and watching out for snakes hanging off nearby tree limps in the backwaters of Mobile, Alabama is something you need to experience to understand. It's similar to, but different from, stalking an Islamorada bonefish flat when the sea blends in with the sky in the stillness of first light. You couldn't find two places more different, and I've been hard-pressed to find any as beautiful.

I made my first stop on this trip more than three months ago in Sebago, Maine. I learn something different every time I'm fortunate enough to listen to another angler. The tiny scraps of fishing knowledge that I've accumulated are incredible. But the thing that sticks with me is what each fisherman keeps telling me in different ways. When you find out where you love to be, don't wait for life's reminders to get you there.

The sun changes the Islamorada sky every morning, and Pat tells me no two days on the Mobile River are alike.

The water is waiting.

Photos: Bruce (left) Pat (right).