Dreamed last night of an older girlfriend, super good investing in American and Pacific Rim stock markets, said she giving up on giving me stock market advice and was headed to Key West. On waking, I was caused to think about my recent foray into the stock market for the first time in decades. Wondered if I would write about that today? Found an email from my Key West friend, Rick Boettger, continuing his and my discussion reported in recent posts at this blog. Rick did well investing at one time, and now does other things.
Yes, you had your days of paradise on Little Torch, and as tormenting as your angel-driven foray into Keys politics was, I daresay you found some bonefishing energy there as well. Some grain of truth, Sloan?
Only in my dreams, Rick. I never saw one bone fish when I lived on Little Torch, and I looked lots of times. I never saw one bone fish when I lived in Key West, and I looked lots of times. Looked, I was not fishing, except with my eyes and memories.
Last time I fished the flats was early January 1988 on Key Largo, with my Islamorada flats guide amigo. We trailered his skiff from Islamorada to the marina at John Pennekamp State Park and fished the flats in front of Ocean Reef Club. I think that was when he told me about a federal judge fining Ocean Reef $60,000 a day for dumping its untreated sewage into the saltwater tidal creek that goes in Ocean Reef.
I was fly fishing that day. It was a good fishing day for that time of year. Clear, sunny, slight off-shore north breeze, which made sight-fishing easy. My friend and I talked some about our lust for fishing had waned. We no longer were driven to catch fish for sport. I cast to some small bone fish and got no takers.
Around 3 p.m., we came to a slight cove and up in the neck was a giant bone fish with dorsal and tip of tail fin showing as it fed. My friend stopped the skiff with his push pole, said the tide was falling, the fish would come of the flat soon, we would wait. I should get ready to cast.
Standing up on the bow, I stripped a good bit of fly line from my reel and coiled in on the deck prelude to trying to do a quick double power haul cast to avoid back and forth false casting before presenting the fly. False casting can spook a bone fish. I was not very good with double power haul.
The fish obeyed my friend, started moving off the flat. The set up was perfect. The slight breeze caused no waves that slapped against the boat and made noise. The sun was on the other side of the fish from the skiff, so we we cast no shadow.
As the fish crossed about 50 feet across the bow, I engaged the fly rod and line and my friend said to lead the fish about 12 feet. I released the line and the fly landed dead on the fish's left eye. My friend said, Not quite enough lead, Sloan. No shit, I said. It was dead calm for about 5 seconds. The water exploded, as the old, wizened, trophy fish spooked and bolted to deep water.
I felt like an idiot. I said I'd had enough fishing, let's head in, have a beer. My friend said, no, there was plenty of good fishing time left, we would see more bone fish. I said, no, let's go in and have a beer. He protested again. I said I didn't come out here today to fish. He asked why I came out here? To be with you, I said. Now let's go in and have a beer. That that's what we did. His first name is, yep, Rick.
As time passed, and I thought back to when I fished the flats, and different memorable experiences with Rick, who also fished me and my daughters when they were young, and times I fished the flats myself, poling the Boston Whaler at my father's home on Lower Matecumbe Key, or his older brother's Mako , which he stored for a while at Bud n' Mary's, and then at Caribe marina, in Islamorada, I saw hidden messages to me, which I had not seen back when I lived to come to the Florida Keys and fish the flats.
Eventually, I came to the Keys to live and fly fish, spin fish, and bait fish, but by then it was soul-fishing. Can't say I had much success, lots of big ones never took the bait, lots were spooked by bad casts, lots got hooked up for a while, then threw the hook. I think there were two who got boated and released. I don't know what happened to one, whom I called Aphrodite, she showed up topless at a candidate forum. The other is still around Key West. She's homeless.
Yesterday, Kari reported that while she hung out near the K-Mart shopping center, she saw a guy all aflame with a blowtorch welding something squarish. That went on for a while, then he vanished. That was not a dream. It was yet another of many anecdotal experiences Kari reports to me, which she has and nobody around her has. That one freaked her out. Why'd it happen to me?!, she wailed. I said, Ask God, not me.
Early this month, Kari reported that while she slept, she heard, "Sloan, buy Disney at $5 a share, it's going to go up." She saw me in some bank or something giving someone money for a piece of paper. I sat on that a couple of days, called a childhood friend, who worked all his life for a New York Stock Exchange firm headquartered in Birmingham. I asked what he thought of Disney? He said, a few days before, he and his wife went long in Disney. I said I don't have the money to buy shares of Disney, what are calls selling for? He told me. I said I was looking at paying $5 for a call on 100 shares.
He calculated a bit and arrived at a $130 strike price through January. I said I would use my $1,200 stimulus check, if I ever got it. I didn't know it had already reached my checking account. I told him to buy a call at that strike price and date. Then, I called back and told him to buy 2 more calls. I was willing to put a little of my own skin into the game. $1,600, including commissions.
That's when I told my friend about Kari's dream, and I'd had dreams that seemed to tell me to buy Disney.
I told my friend that Kari also said I should buy Publix, which is mopping up. My friend said that was a great idea, but Publix is closely held.
As time passed, I wondered if had thrown that $1,600 away? Then, I thought, well, $1,200 was given to me by the national government for doing nothing. I was not making money, I had not asked for the money, I had not paid taxes in decades. Why give me $1,200? Buying 3 Disney calls was my contribution to restarting the national and local economies. If I make a profit, Yay!
Kari told me yesterday that she heard on radio news that Disney is opening its theme parks this July. Who knows that in the fuck is going to happen? Yet, if Donald Trump, the Republicans, the MAGAS and Dr. Judy Makovits have their way, all aspects of Disney, theme parks, movies in theaters and online, and even its cruise ships, should do very well in the coming months. As, I suppose, might COVID-19.
We live in strange times, my friend.
My God, what a superb column. I know you have to make sure to include it in your daily e-publication. Taught me more than I never knew about flats fishing. My first year here, a tennis acquaintance kindly treated me to a quick evening of pulling in mangrove snappers. So complex I knew at 48 I was too old to learn. I'd be a free-diving spear fisherman, takes more athletic ability (no way I could do it now) but dumbass stupid, just point and shoot (well, you have to chase snappers, wait until they turn to take your shot, but that's it for tactics.)
I bet you'll hit it big on Disney. Cynthia and I pulled out of the stock market in 2006, except out of honor for a small amount of her dad's legacy stocks. Following my "quit winners" investment philosophy, which has served us well.
Never tried spear-fishing, only did some snorkeling to look at the beautiful underwater world. Caught lots of mangrove snappers about 800 yards out from my father's home on Lower Matecumbe Key, using live shrimp. An old sailing ship went aground there, wrecked. The huge ballast stones piled up there on the bottom. Great hideout for minnows, small crustaceans, attract predator fish like mangroves, black group (on west wind, for some reason). Even caught a hog nose snapper there one day. Occasional yellow tail snapper. Lots of grunts. Better fishing on high tide and at sun up and dusk, when less light on water. Used spinning tackle for that.
Was fishing over that wreck one evening and looked down westerly and saw a big mud cloud headed my way, figured it was a school of small jack crevale, which tear up the bottom in shallow water as they feed. There were three of us in the Whaler. Shortly, we were tied into something much bigger than we had been reeling in for dinner. All we could do to keep whatever it was from wrapping the monofilament line around the sunken boulders and breaking off. We got two into the boat. Mangrove snappers weighing about 3 pounds. Biggest I had ever caught.They ate real good. They said at Bud n' Mary's later that sometimes mangroves school and forage like that.
I stopped investing in the stock market decades ago. Perhaps In hindsight, I would have made a lot of money if I had held onto stocks I had inherited. Fundamentally, Disney is a great buy. However, we have Senor Corona mucking things up, states, counties and cities going bankrupt, or nearly, since they can't print money; ditto lots of private businesses; unprecedented unemployment applications. Imagine what it would be like today, if the Republicans had been able to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. While, Disney is hoping for a bonanza, thanks to reopening America.
One correction. In 2018, I called a "marker" on school board member Andy Griffiths, who had grown up fishing in Key West, then became a fishing guide, then had his own fleet of fishing boats, which he eventual sold to his captains and that became his retirement. He had had said some years ago that he would take me bone fishing. Thus, the marker. We went out from his home into the back country. Maybe half hour run. We fished several flats, saw no bone fish. I figured we were out there for other reasons. I enjoyed being alone with Andy. I complimented him on putting trade school classes back into the high school curriculum. I have college and two law degrees. Ended up sleeping nights on a bench in the KWPD front lobby. Worked hard then, too, but didn't get paid money, so it wasn't really work, right?
One other thing comes to me. Back when I still was nearly ordinary and lived in Birmingham, I had lunch one day with my father. We did that about once a month. We got to talking about the Keys, which we both loved. I mentioned my flats guide amigo, Rick. My father grumbled that Rick had raised his 8-hour day rate to $200. So had the other flats guides, but I simply said that works out to $25 an hour, and I bill $75 an hour, and Rick is a hell of a lot better fishing guide than I am a lawyer.
In the 1970's, when I was a perpetual student/Peter Pan/bum in SF and Berkeley, when people asked me "What do you do?", I'd answer with the put-down, "What do you mean--for money?"
My ex-wife and I got a ride from Andy too, but not for fishing, but to relax on a temporary sand bar after a forgotten hurricane in the early 2000's. And you're right, it wasn't about the sand bar either.
For many years I wanted to be a flats guide, came close once to making the leap, chickened out. Fate can be cute. I ended up in the Keys trying my hand at deep sea fishing.