(For newcomers to this column, let me explain: “b.w.” is my beautiful wife — ‘nuf said.)
Spring is a gal you’re courting who seems ready to say “yes” and then needs more time to think it over. Spring is a virginal season that tarries “on the verge.”
Anyhow, when we see on TV what’s happening meteorologically in piteous regions north of the Sunshine State, we take our bathing suits out — but don’t put them on quite yet.
First comes income tax time, then we can celebrate by splashing around.
This time of year in Winter Park back in the ‘30s, I used to take my casting rod and navigate lakes Virginia, Mizell and Osceola in a canoe. Bass were catchable with top-water plugs near the shore and on silver and red daredevil spoons in deeper waters. Bass were more lively and more fun to catch before the summer sun warmed up the waters.
Bream were fun to catch with white popping bugs at the end of a fly-rod line. If you got a 5-pound bass on your fly rod, it was as though you had hooked a whale, and the demand for good rod technique was increased.
My favorite fish to eat was the speckled perch that inhabits deeper waters and takes plugs of both the worm and spoon variety.
In my long years in Europe pursuing an operatic career, I often thought I would return to Winter Park when my singing days were over and take to the lakes again.
My b.w. and I came to Winter Park on our honeymoon some 30 years ago. She wanted to see “the little town I came from,” where I myself had not been for more than 40 years.
Without much forethought or discussion, we bought a house on a lake where I had fished as a kid.
Within the next year, we sold our New York apartment and moved to Winter Park, and I was quickly engaged as distinguished professor of music at the University of Central Florida.
We wake every morning to a bright sunny view of our lake. We sit on a nice lakeside screened porch with friends in the late afternoon. A dozen houses have sprung up on the lakeside where there used to be only one — but I hardly ever see anyone fishing.
Unless the chemical fertilizers that wash down into the lake from people’s yards have somehow made our lake uninhabitable for fish any longer, there may be hiding under the surface bass, bream, perch, pickerel and even gar fish, waiting for someone to cast a plug or drop in a hooked minnow.
We buy our fish these days at the grocery store, and the guy behind the counter may possibly never have picked up a fishing rod.
As one grows older, there seems to be someone doing for him almost all the things he used to do for himself. We are a long way from our ancestors who found their nourishment wherever they could capture it and bring it home.
Fishing is conducive to mental reflection — an activity that seems today to be in the back of the closet along with seldom-used fishing rods.