Saltwater fishing was one of my favorite activities to participate in when I was on shore duty in Central Florida. My fishing buddy in most of these forays was a fellow sailor named Brady. He was from Pennsylvania, and was pretty much inactive during the summer, sitting in his air conditioned home drinking beer, and looking out of the window. Brady’s beer drinking habit was not limited to the summer; no, he was pretty much soused all of the time after working hours. Most of the time when he came to my house he was half lit, and working on the second half. My wife referred to him as “one-beer Brady”, because he always claimed to have had only one beer.
One fall day Brady and I decided to go to the Intracoastal Waterway, and catch a bunch of sea trout for a Thanksgiving Day fish-fry and beer bust. Our main fishing hole was near an island at Mosquito lagoon, and we expected to limit out with 100 keepers before we went home for the day.
We made the 45 minute trip to the boat dock with no problems, launched the boat, parked the towing rig, and took off to our destination, the Mosquito lagoon. Now Mosquito lagoon earned its name honestly. In the summer time it was a hellish place, the sun bouncing off of the shallows, and the swarms of black mosquitos haunting the marshes made in utterly impenetrable. It was best to keep clear until the autumn or winter when the mosquitos diminished and the weather moderated.
Once we arrived we shut down the outboard motor, and I climbed the casting tower and poled us into position. There was very little wind that morning, and we were right on the edge of a little hole in the shallows, and the fishing was prime. In the first 45 minutes we had boated nice fish. Brady was feeling pretty good about the situation, so he reached into his little cooler and pulled out his first beer of the day. It was 7:25 AM. In the next 2 hours we boated another 18 fish for a total of 36. Now I’m not sure how many beers Brady had in that time, but by 10:00 AM he was lit up like Times Square.
We hit a little bit of a lull with no fish landed, and Brady informed me that he needed to take a crap. We were right in the middle of the best fishing time according to the lunar chart, so I ignored him and kept fishing. A few minutes later he reminded me that he had to go. I looked around and said “Brady, look around dude, there is nowhere for you to go! We’d have to crank up and go back to the dock.” There were a couple of porta-potties there at the dock, but I damn sure didn’t feel like picking up and going back there.
He pointed his fishing rod at the little island and said “just take me over there, I gotta go bad man.”
Since I knew he wouldn’t shut up until he got to go, I jumped back on the tower and poled us in the direction of the island. The water was really shallow there, and I could get the boat within 40 yards or so. “This is the best I can do asshole, get over there and do your business!” I shouted.
“Do you have any toilet paper?” he asked.
“Hell no! This isn’t a freaking rest area.” At that Brady picked up our bait sack full of bait shrimp, dumped them in the floor and shoved the brown paper sack into his pocket. He stepped off of the gunnel into the 6 inches of water and walked toward the beach. I turned back to the open water in disgust and made a long cast toward an imaginary trophy trout. On my second cast I didn’t thumb my reel in time and created a huge bird’s nest in my line. I suppressed an urge to shout curses at Brady, and began to pick out the backlash.
Moments later I heard a horrible wail and the sound of a struggle in the reeds near where Brady went to relieve himself. It sounded like he was being eaten by a large gator, and I wasn’t really unhappy with that. I turned to look to see what the hell was going on when I saw a sight that was permanently etched into my brain.
Brady was trudging through the primordial muck of ages with his pants around the ankles, being chased by a huge cloud of black mosquitos, and a paper sack stuck up the crack of his ass!
I instantly leapt up on the tower and started poling out toward open water. Brady was howling, swatting at the mosquitos, and signaling for me to go pick him up. The water still wasn’t deep enough to lower the motor, so I poled harder and harder. Brady was making some headway though, and he reached the water’s edge about the time I was ready to lower the outboard. He sloshed his way to the boat and pulled himself half way over the gunnel. I got the motor lowered, and cranked her up. Seconds later we were racing across the flat water.
Once clear I turned my attention back to Brady. We had left the mosquitos behind, but they had left their mark on him. His head, neck and arms were covered by bites. I didn’t dare look at his lower body. He was moaning, crying and cursing and demanded I stop to let him get into the water to cool his bites. I warned him against it, but he insisted so I coasted to a stop and he plopped over the side, ass crack full of paper sack and all.
When he hit that salty water he let out a scream and tried to climb back into the boat. I fended him off with the push-pole, and said “clean you nasty ass up and I will let you back in the boat.” He washed his parts up a bit and I let him back in the boat. By this time the bites were starting to swell and he was starting to look like the creature from the black lagoon. I was worried he would go into anaphylactic shock, so I steered towards the dock, and called the marine patrol on the vhf radio, and asked them to send an ambulance to the dock.
By the time we arrived, Brady was nearly comatose. He couldn’t speak or even keep his eyes open. I was glad they were there to take him to the hospital. There was a payphone there on the dock, so I called his wife and explained the situation to her (minus a few details), and went and got back in the boat. Hell I had 64 more fish to catch and I wasn’t going to let a few mosquitos get in my way!
Another story by Mark Lovelace:
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