Wednesday, April 29, 2009

He viewed me from his 1 dark eye as I lay on the bed

Monster on the Wall

Monster on the Wall

By day he was eight feet of motionless stone cold beauty mounted on the wall behind the bed, a magnificent creature frozen in arching leap,having died in a fierce battle fought years before.
To a young boy he came alive at night,rising from a sea of twisted branches and mysterious shapes that danced across the walls in the moonlight.There was an ominous look to his one dark eye and his
cavernous mouth was open wide to consume his prey.----

Monster on the Wall----part 2

I was 4 years old in 49 when I first saw the Monster behind the bed. I was frightened fascinated and tired when they layed me down to sleep,the Monster in quiet patience poised as darkness engulfed the room. I lay below him on the bed.I eased myself below the covers to avoid his icy stare!
When the daylight came I scrambled to the doorway and looked back on his awesome form,even in death he looked alive and hadn't I seen him stir and play with the shadows of the night?
That morning I learned the Monster was a sailfish,caught by my Grandad in a place called Florida.My Grandad described to me the fierce fight the creature had waged,his powerful leaps from the ocean,and how he appeared to dance across the oceans surface on his tail in a frantic attempt to break free.Grandad was proud of his catch and said someday I might catch one.
In the years that followed my dad taught me how to fish and I became as passionhate about the sport as hewas. We fished the rivers lakes and ponds around Va.,and each trip was an adventure.I caught Blue Gill and small Bass and by ther time I was 5, a 3 lb. bass had succumbed to my expertise.
When I was 8 years old we moved from Arlington Va. to South River Park, in Edgewater Maryland.Our house was on Wharehouse cove just off the South River and the opening to the mighty Chesapeake Bay.This incomparable home of my youth was a veritable paradise for a growing boy, a land of adventure,water and a wide variety of fish to challenge an egar angler.
I spent my days catching delicious blue clawed crabs by the bushel,hauling in eels,golden croaker,spot,perch and fought the powerful bluefish in the bay.
Dad surprised me one day and said I could take the rowboat out on my own-to fish the cove. There was such a huge variety of fish to catch-I honestly cannot remember even one boring day at that beautiful place by the water.
We spent 5 wonderful years in Edgewater and just after my 13th birthday dad announce we would be moving out of state--I was crushed untill I found out we were moving to Florida--Orlando Florida, thousands of lakes and the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico-some of the best fishing in the country, alligators palm trees and the memory of my youth---Sailfish-------
Monster on the Wall part #3

We moved to Orlando in the summer of 58 and by the fall had fished many of the pristine lakes near our home,catching the largest bass of our lives.
Our first Christmas in Florida was spent at my Grandparents home in Delray Beach on Floridas southeast coast--a 180 mile journey south from Orlando-well worth the wait it was-- sugar sand beaches-pastel colors--art deco designs--coconut trees flowers of every description--and water as blue as it gets--jeeze what a place--just the weather and appearance put you in a good mood--the mornings were fresh--just cool enough to invigorate-then warmed up nicely around 11.
It was during this memorable trip that I first laid eyes on Boynton Inlet---a channel to and from the sea,protected on north and south by jetties of rock and concrete--this opening to the Atlantic was not a docile one but a churning cauldron of huge waves and flying spray.
The inner portion of the inlet,behind the protection of the beach was amove with the incoming tide.The sun easily penetrated the rich green water and the colorful forms of countless fish could be seen moving in from the open water.
South of the inlet was the harbor,home to the sport fishing fleet, a nest of powerful sleek wave warriors made of wood and glass. Twice daily their engines would roar to life,and they would leave their safe haven and venture to the blue water,where excited fishermen would try their luck and test their skill against some of the oceans swiftest and strongest game fish,King Mackeral,Wahoo,Bonito,Amberjack,and the most prized quarry of them all,the acrobatic powerful Atlantic Sailfish. ----
Monster on the Wall part # 4

The docks that day were crowded with eager fishermen preparing to leave on their offshore charters. The boat captains and their mates worked feverishly loading supplies of ice and bait as their departure time rapidly approached. Relatives and onlookers wished them luck and at one o'clock the once placid harbor was churning as water boiled from the sterns of those awesome craft.The strong lines that tethered the sleek beast were cast aside and in a procession of power and grace the boats moved past cheering waving crowds on their parade to the sea.It was an impressive sight as power and skill met the watery turmoil at the mouth of the jetties.The fleet easily broke the bond and plied forward toward the fish rich waters of the gulf stream.
I could only imagine what those lucky fishermen might experience and hope that someday I might have the same opportunity. I had now seen the waters where the Monsters roamed, the boats that hunted them and was at least one step closer to the dream of catching my own.--more tomorrow----

Monster on the Wall part #5 Back to Full Blog

Monster on the Wall--part #5

My chance came much sooner than I could have hoped for, a year had passed and we were again preparing to visit Delray for the Christmas hollidays but this time dad had a big surprise.MY Uncle Robert and his new wife Gail were chartering a sport fishing boat out of Boynton Inlet and dad and I were their invited guest.I could hardly contain my enthusiasm--and the trip south seemed to take forever.
It had been 10 years since I had first seen Grandads Monster on the Wall and with each passing mile I was closer to a chance that lady luck might shine on me-and make my childhood dream a reality.
We arrived in Delray late at night,stayed up for a while visiting with my grandparents and talked about the next days adventure.
I really had a hard time falling asleep because I was so keyed up.I was awake, envisioning a huge sailfish rocketing into the sky. I was holding tight to the rod as the huge billfish crashed back into the sea,the whine of the drag blended with the sounding alarm clock and I heard a voice saying Ricky wake up,it's time to start getting ready.
The day I had waited for-was at hand,this was certainly no ordinary fishing trip,it was the gulfstream where the big fish roamed--and I would have my chance--we made final preparations and it was time to go.
Dad and I rode with Robert and Gail,the rest of the family would follow to see us off. Robert told us that the boat he chartered was the "My Sweetheart",captained by Homer Adams,one of the most experienced Skippers in the fleet and he often found fish when conditions were not favorable.
We turned onto A1A heading North toward the inlet,the Atlantic waters were blue and docile,only a few puffy white clouds floated high in the sky.We arrived at the inlet,the parking lot was abuzz with activity and filling up fast. We made our way onto the dock past a number of boats and suddenly there she was,The My Sweetheart,long and graceful and pure white--she sparkled in the mid-day sun.
Captain Adams spotted Robert and said "welcome folks,it's a great day for fishing",I could not have agreed more.
The mate then helped us on board,we stowed our gear,then watched the mate prepare the tackle and the special ballyhoo baits we would be using.The Captain invited me to join him up on the flying bridge for the trip out to the fishing grounds.The elevated vantage point was great. I waved to the family as the Captain fired up the engines.The mate walked about the boat walking the gunnels with sure footed ease,casting off the lines.
The boats propellers agitated the water a frothy white and we began to move,the Captain skillfully manuevering the boat from its snug berth.The engines low gutteral throb became a more audible roar as we made the turn into the current and green water of the inlet.We all waved again at family and the huge throng of people lining the seawall,the blue waters of the Atlantic lay just ahead. WE reached the rough water and Captain Adams,sensing my concern just smiled and said"no problem"-he then pushed the throttles forward and the My Sweetheart powered through the cross currents with ease and we were on our way.-------

Monster on the Wall part # 6

The ride to the fishing grounds only took a few minutes.I quickly climbed down the ladder taking my place in the forward swivel chair facing aft on the starboard side. Aunt Gail took the chair opposite me.
Our lines were attached to out riggers, which ran our baits far to the sides. Dad and Roberts lines were trolled directly behind the boat.
I remember wondering how a fish could take a bait skipping so fast across the water. I would soon find out that it was no problem and would in just a few moments be introduced in grand style to blue water fishing.
We watched the ballyhoo skim across the surface,we were loaded up and it was time to get it on and we didn't have long to wait!
A LOUD SNAP--Cracked the air as Gails line released from the outrigger,the slack line disappeared,the sharp hook SLAMMED HOME,her rod bowed with the strain,she SCREAMED the drag WHINED--and the FIGHT was on!!!
The mate shouted instructions as she fought the unseen creature. I didn't get to watch her battle as a hungry Kingfish attacked my bait so fierce'ly that his momentum carried him 6 feet in the air,my line released from the outrigger and disappeared along with the fish beneath the waves.I now had my hands full with the strongest fish I had ever fought.We landed our fish,both Kings in the 15 pound range.
The afternoon had just begun and I had already caught the biggest fish of my life.
Everyone else soon joined in on the action which continued hot and heavy for the next 2 1/2 hours. The four of us boated 28 Kingfish,one Bonito and a pilot fish. I was exhilarated and exhausted and had clearly had the finest fishing day of my life,catching 9 of the Kings,the largest being about 20 pounds.
The excitement for the day was far from over. Robert had been trolling a live Blue runner baitfish in deep water and suddenly had a massive strike,it was a heavy fish.He fought the powerful denizen till he finally turned him toward the boat. Captain Adams shouted from the bridge that it was a big Wahoo maybe a 60 pounder.Our cheers were short lived however as a huge Porpoise took the Wahoo in his mouth and headed North at a blistering speed,the line melted from Roberts reel and then broke,its separation split the air like a rifle shot.
Whew--what a day--and then Captain Adams spoke the words that were music to my ears--" hey folks lets spend the last hour in deeper water and see if we can't raise a sailfish to a bait!

The Monster on the Wall part #7

We appreciated the run to deeper water,it only took a few minutes but just to relax was a big help--the wind sun and fighting fish had taken a bit of a toll on us.
We arrived at the spot and the Captain said that on the previous day they had raised a large sail but he didn't take the bait.We now had about thirty minutes to troll before we would head back to the docks.
The lines were put out and I was just sort of day dreaming when someone shouted, SAILFISH!!,I turned to locate him,and there he was,slashing through the water towards Roberts bait.Roberts rod plunged forward,he hollered but suddenly his line went slack.This awesome fish would not be deterred as he cut through the water towards my dads bait,again he missed!
The mate jerked the rod from my hand,quickly released the line from the outrigger,reeled in the slack positioning the bait directly in front of the trailing Blue Monster.The fish lunged as the mate set the hook solidly and all hell broke loose.He handed me the rod and I was jerked forward by a force and power like I had never felt--the reel screamed,like some demon from the underworld had been loosed.
The mate hollered --FISH ON--and my rod was bent double and it was all I could do to hang on--the mate said let him run--like I had anything to do with that--he tore 400 yards of line from my reel.
My huge fish blasted from the ocean high into the air in an incredible display and even from such a distance he looked huge and then my quarry made 4 more leaps into the afternoon Florida sky-dancing across the ocean--I really thought he would break free or he would cut the line with his tail.
My dream fish had taken 1200 feet of line and I had not yet retrieved any.He finally went deep and I began the hard work of retrieving line a few feet at a time. I would pull back on the rod with all my might and then push it forward winding in slack as quickly as I could-a chore repeated over and over-till my muscles were nearly shot.Everyone was shouting encouragement-and truthfully it was the hardest challenge I had ever had-to that point in my life--this fish was so strong.I was intent on the job at hand and oblivious to the transformation going on around me.The smaller swivel chairs had been removed and a large fighting chair was put into place in the center of the deck and I was moved to it. It was more comfortable had a big harness which was very comfortable and a large foot rest which really helped.MY hard work began to pay off as I reclaimed line lost in the start of battle. What had been a vivid childhood memory was a reality at the end of my line, 20 minutes had passed and the beautiful sail was nearing the boat--I found myself relaxing thinking I had survived the challenge--but my adversary had other ideas.He viewed the boat with his dark round eyes and began to create his own senario.The mate yelled "He's not ready yet" and then the huge predator charged away from the boat like a runaway freight train,tearing 300 yards of hard earned line from my reel and again capped this marvelous run with with skyward leaps showing amazing power.---

Monster on the Wall part#8

He not only took 900 feet of line but also a bit of my heart. My arms felt like rubber and I was nearly spent.They offered me help but again I refused--he would win or I would-there would be no other way.
The Captain and mate were discussing how unusual this fish was--that most sails were caught in 15/20 minutes--as I began the arduous now painful task of retrieving so much line.I had to fight for every foot as this beautiful fish cut me no slack-his head was turned away from the boat as he fought with all he had.
Gail rubbed my shoulders,they poured cool water on me and the reel and the mate then tightened the drag to put increased pressure on the fish.Once again I slowly pulled in this ultimate challenge to my resolve. I was sick from the sun and drained physically but doggedly kept pumping and retrieving line--until my beautiful Blue Monster from the sea neared the boat once more--the struggle was an hour long and for the first time his long lithe body could be seen below the surface---He was an 8 footer just like Grandads-the mate stood by the transome with gloved hands waiting to grasp the leader when this marvelous Blue Dynamo did what would seem impossible--he lurched away and was at full speed in a second or two--the reel played its mournful tune and the mono disappeared along with the fish--only to reappear 300 yard away--blasting from the ocean like a rocket bound for heaven-in one last almost suicidal attempt at freedom.
This beautiful fish had more heart than seemed possible--and with that last frantic attempt--his head turned toward the boat for the first time--and the mate screamed at me to reel fast and take up the slack or I would lose him.
I couldn't feel my arms anymore--could barley turn the handal--and at last the mate grabbed the leader and pulled him to the boat--and said my God he is foul hooked in the top of his head--making his capture far more difficult--1 hour 28 minutes---They ask if I wanted to let him go--I kept my mouth shut-all I could think of was showing grandad,
there would be no mercy from me this day-but there should have been.

This all transpired in Dec-1959---in 1992 I finally wrote a story about it--this one.
I sent my Aunt in Delray a copy of the story and she contacted Captain Adams home and found out that he was dying of cancer--they went to the hospital and read him the story and he cried from happiness to have been rememberd for what was his livlihood-I am so glad to have brought some joy to him.
I also thank my father for teaching me to enjoy the outdoors,my Uncle for inviting us,may he rest in peace and to all that release their prey to fight another day-- The Codge

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