They say the first taste is free, right?
It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be the first bag of jalapeño chips or a spicy bowl of perfect Cajun Gumbo. Or it could be something more insidious and life-shattering. There will always be someone who will do whatever it takes to set that hook and send you spiraling into hopeless addiction for life.
For me, it was flat fishing. I know. I got off easy. But before you wipe the sweat from your brow, know this. I have never heard of a 12 step program for bonefish anglers and permit hunters. All we get is more encouragement. More misleading emails and small ads delivered, suspiciously, I might add, to our phones and social media channels. Come to the Bahamas! Live the Mayan Riviera! Belize is the bomb! The Seychelles are calling!
Holy hell, the Seychelles.
More than a decade ago, I was invited to fish the wide, wide flats of Long Island in the Bahamas for a writer’s week at a small lodge on Dead Man’s Cay—I had to buy a plane ticket and leave a tip. And I had to buy my own rum. But for the most part, I was just expected to write about my experience.
Not exactly free, I guess. But then, what else was he going to do? So I wrote. And then I came back the next year. And then to Mexico. And back to the Bahamas. And then, needing a fix, I doubled down on flats fishing for carp in the thick, dirty waters of a Snake River bay. And then to Louisiana and Texas for redfish. And to Florida for more redfish. And sheep’s head. And then I saw my first giant tarpon daisy chain.
Listen… I’m not pooping addiction in real life. I have seen it. I’ve seen the damage it does. It really ruins lives. It is one of the most painful things I have seen families go through, and many of us have been affected directly or indirectly. But I also take seriously the lure of salt, especially from the Caribbean flats, which are generally easy to get to if you can muster the means. And you rarely, if ever, leave the sand and salt fully saturated. There is always more to do. Another country to visit. Another hostel to check out.
And then some wise ass says, “Hey, buddy. Ever get a GT?”
So dive in and feed the dragon. It starts with a lot of internet research and ends with the finger on the mouse, which hovers over the button that says, rather innocently, “book your trip now”. Sweat breaks out on your forehead. You know there will be buyer’s remorse…but will it be as bad as what you’ll feel if you don’t click?
So stand up. You walk a little. Maybe do another hour of research. Knowledge is power, right?
And then you go to the keyboard and press that button deliberately. It’s done. The money magically disappears from your checking account. The cheery confirmation email arrives before you’ve even had a chance to think out loud, “What the hell did I just do?” and “What will he say when he sees this charge?”
And then you realize what you’re missing out on to make this trip work. You will need a new saltwater line. At least one. And leader And lead wire (barracuda!). Oh shit, that old 8-weight is… well, it’s old. It’s time to upgrade. And you can’t use an old fishing rod for beginners, for God’s sake. And you need a few new solar hoodies and at least two new leggings. Oh, and new flat boots. Must have these. And that old hat? Yeah…he’s a little lucky. And god knows what else.
At this point you are in the stands of the beast, and the adrenaline is what keeps you upright and functional. Over the next few weeks, as the trip approaches, you’ll be packing and packing your bags in your head. You pick up a new pair of stainless steel pliers because you have no idea where the last pair you bought just before your last trip went. And that little bit of possible skin cancer the dermatologist took out of your knee? Yes. New quick dry pants. No more wading around tropical flats in shorts for you. And, that second little bit of potential melanoma they cut off your ear? It’s time for a floppy hat to replace the cap.
Soon, it’s adding to an awkward conversation with your partner. And when that happens, trust me. He just openly admits the mid-life crisis.
So yeah…that first taste wasn’t free at all, was it? make memory Who was your floor dealer? Who was that insufferable bully that connected your fly fishing spirit to tropical waters?
That person, that deviant, deserves a look at the rim of your new polarized sunglasses (because you’ve looked at too many things that looked like they might be bonefish through the old pair over the years, and they’re just plum worn ). outside). And of course, they’ll have that glow from the seat next to you on the plane. Or on the flats skiff or the panga.
Because misery loves company and floor addicts can’t function alone. That’s why they said, “Hey, do you want to go to the Bahamas?” all these years ago And so they sit next to you at the hostel bar, bemoaning the notorious lack of permission on flats and taking comfort in the fact that they’re not alone, sipping Kalik or Sol as the humidity soaks away any hope of a better day the sun reaches the flats.
Because if it was fine all the time, then you’d think you downloaded it. how are you Then, maybe, you would beat the addiction.
It’s never free. never
So, listen up. Want to go to the Bahamas?