As I type, I’m only five days away from loading an overabundance amount of fishing and kayak gear into my truck and driving south for a week of chasing rebellious redfish off the panhandle of Florida. The timing is perfect too as Old Man Winter seems to be walking through at a snail’s pace this year.
Don’t get me wrong, winter here in Indiana has been mild this year and for that I am extremely thankful. Lord knows we’ve seen much worse. However, the gray skies and cooler than I like temperatures are wearing on me heavily, and there is only one cure.
I long to taste the salty mist in the air and hear the cry of scavenging seagulls along the shore. I want to feel the cool water of the bay fill my water shoes as I launch my kayak and duck my head as a careless pocket-sized bird darts into the marsh grass right before sunset. I yearn to feel the quenching of thirst and hunger at lunch time that only an ice-cold beer and meatball sub from the local restaurant can provide. I ache to feel the pull of an alarmed redfish on the end of my line as it makes a fierce run to the safety of deeper water, only to be stopped short by the power of a graphite 8wt rod and the drag on a matching reel.
I can’t wait to browse through the local bait shop and grumble about their prices while blowing years of dust from the items amassed on the shelves at the rear of the store in hopes of finding some forgotten talisman of magical redfish-catching power from years gone by. I look forward to hearing the strong southern drawl of the stool-perched bait shop owner as he enthralls the locals with fibs of where the fish are biting and his oversized belly peaks out from beneath his undersized t-shirt.
I wish for the unwelcome sting of a sunburn and the anguish of trying to thread a hook after leaving my reading glasses in the truck. I covet the smoke of a fine cigar lingering in the evening air accompanied by the sound of ice cubes clinking as they hit the bottom of a glass that’s about to be filled with expensive gin, tonic water and a wedge of lime. I crave the joy I experience when my fishing buddy lands an impressive fish and to see his big smile when I net one myself. I also look forward to replaying the memories in my head for years to come as if they were home movies and telling tall tales about the one that got away to anyone who will listen.
Lastly, I yearn for the slightly distant future when Old Man Winter is once again creeping through Indiana nonchalantly and I find myself counting the days until I again head south to visit the salt marsh.
Ah yes, the salt is calling, and I must go.