County Lines by Bob
The Gulf Stream is a warm current in the Atlantic Ocean that parallels
the eastern coast of North America from Florida to Newfoundland.
The stream then splits into several branches that reach Iceland
The clear aqua hue created by the flow of warm water is visible
from the ocean's surface.
The Vikings followed this path to the so-called New World. Then
they sailed southward, stopping and heading inland along the way
to trade with the natives of what is now known as the United States.
The Vikings understood the value of the warm-water ocean current.
They relied on the Gulf Stream to provide an abundance of food.
Fishing in the Gulf Stream will spoil you, will make fishing in
any other place less than adequate. I was six when I first dropped
a line in the Gulf Stream.
I've fished in hundreds of other places since then. None have measured
up to the Gulf Stream. Down with the bait. Up with a fish. Big fish.
Anything less than five pounds is a minnow.
When I was little, I got seasick a lot. The roll of the waves.
The smell of gas. Swaying back and forth, back and forth.
Sometimes I would vomit and vomit until I thought nothing was left,
then it would flow again. Death seems preferable when you're seasick.
Dad wouldn't bring us in when my brothers and I were seasick. We
had to tough it out.
Once while seasick I asked Dad to do me in. Pointing toward a 12
gauge loaded with slugs to kill sharks, I said, "Please, shoot
The king mackerel were running. Dad was removing what was at least
a 20 pounder from a plug riddled with teeth marks. "You'll
get your sea legs one day," he said. I didn't care if I did
or didn't then. But he was right.
Pinchy and I recently went fishing in the Gulf Stream. Being from
Tennessee, she had never been ocean fishing. I advised her to take
Dramamine to ward off seasickness. She popped two. I didn't need
We chugged out of port from Sebastian, Florida on a deep-sea fishing
boat at two a.m. The captain said we would be fishing in the Gulf
Stream at sunrise.
Most of the other passengers were from the North. I knew many would
be selling Buicks as the trip progressed. With heads hanging over
the side, they would be retching "Buuuuick! Buuuuick!",
as what used to be on the inside chummed the water.
I laughed when the first mate demonstrated how to use a rod and
reel. "Stop it," Pinchy said. "Stop it."
"I can't help it," I said. "Let the line down.
Reel the line up. You're only dealing with two directions. Some
of these people probably are from New York. But even a monkey could
operate a rod and reel without instructions."
Twelve miles out, we lost sight of the lights on shore. I enjoy
the feeling of being completely disconnected from land. To me it's
comparable to the emptiness experienced while meditating.
The physical world is transient. To contact the divine, you must
let go of everything that connects you to you. A freeing occurrence
that prepares you for death, when all that you were will no longer
Slices of purple and gold light were edging over the horizon when
I dropped my line in the Gulf Stream. The swells were two to four
feet. More than half the passengers were hanging their heads over
the side, selling Buicks.
I looked at Pinchy. Her face wasn't green, not even a little.
They raise tough women in Tennessee. No doubt about that.
I walked around, checking things out after catching a reasonable
number of snapper, grouper and sea bass. No need being greedy. Greed
leads to lack as surely as night follows day.
As the boat swayed and rocked, I traversed easily about. Many of
my fellow passengers were stumbling around, grabbing anything close,
including me, to steady their movement.
Sea legs result from applying the Taoist principle of going with
the flow. The standard reaction when a boat moves one way, is to
move the opposite. This creates imbalance. When the boat rocked
upward, I raised a foot.
When the boat rocked downward, I lowered it. When the boat swayed
left, I moved left. When it swayed right, I moved right. Balance
comes from flowing with, not struggling against.
The universe dances to the rhythm of Yin-Yang, to the tempo of
opposing forces flowing in the same direction.
After a satisfying eight hours of fishing in the Gulf Stream, the
captain hoisted anchor and steered a course toward port. As we entered
calmer waters after passing through the inlet, I was struck by an
ancestral beat from my Viking forefathers.
Grabbing two fish from my catch, I scrambled onto the bow and held
a grouper up in one hand and a snapper in the other.
Families in fishing and speed boats yelled and waved. I yelled
and waved my fish back at them.
As we pulled alongside the dock, a gang of half-drunk, sunburned
tourists shouted words of admiration for my fish. An old salt in
a wooden V-bottom with an ancient Evinrude gave me a thumbs up.
While we were hosing the saltwater off our rods and reels, Pinchy
said, "I didn't know what to think when you grabbed those fish
and started acting like a wild savage."
"I wasn't acting," I replied.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570