Sam Demarco. If I had a little brother, I would want him to be him.
Sam picked me up in Miami for the drive to the Keys. Somewhere along the way he mentioned we might have time to look for some peacock bass on the way back to the airport. I was intrigued.
The next four days were a blur of boat ramps, thousands of casts, Cuban sandwiches and Budweiser at various temperatures. Based out of Joe and Lindsay Babino’s house on Grassy Key we had fished long and hard. Tom’s Harbor, Summerland, Ramrod, Colony Key, Cudjoe, Key West; we covered a lot of water. We dealt with the wind and a cold front as best we could. The fishing, or rather the catching, had not been what we had hoped for but as there should be when three friends set out for adventure with no specific plan, there had been some cluster-f moments that became epic memories.
The morning of my return to Boston the wind continued to blow. We opted for a casual breakfast followed by a ceremonial beer (or two) and a bucket of bait at Robbie’s. Joe had been given some Miami peacock intel by Alex Woodsum. We plugged the numbers into Sam’s GPS, said good-bye to Joe and headed north.
We had two hours. It was odd gearing up in a shopping mall parking lot and dodging traffic to get to the water. But there it was. At first glance I was not optimistic. Sam and I walked the edge of the canal for a while just blind casting. Finally we just stopped and watched the water. We both found some peacocks hanging around what structure there was on the bank. They were so close we were basically jigging flies in front of their faces. They showed just enough interest to keep us interested.
And then I saw an orange torpedo moving slowly down the canal. Sam told me it was a goldfish. I had never seen a goldfish that big. Neither one of us knew if it would take a fly. It didn’t matter. Dogs chase cars. And their own tails. I wanted it.
While I chased that goldfish back and forth, Sam stayed on a pair of peacocks who were either bedding or lying up. They only moved enough to keep Sam’s attention. For well over a half hour Sam kept at those two fish. Giving up on the goldfish, I watched him there on his knees literally staring those two peacocks in the face. Persistence paid off. He finally got one to eat one of my nasty orange striper flies.
And then I was back on an airplane. Looking out the window at the day’s last light falling over Miami I wondered if Sam had gone back to that canal, if he was there at that moment stalking more peacocks.
I hoped he was.
From the library
27 January 2016