On a foggy February morning, I took two of my saltiest friends out fishing for shad on the St. John’s River. Neither of them understood why I strayed in the winter from my true love, the Indian River Lagoon, in search of a bait fish for two months of the year. Neither could imagine how fishing for said bait fish could be any fun. A funny thing happened on the way to the fishing hole, though.
Along the banks of the most haunted river in FL, lurked pteradactyls and other creatures from a long ago world. The fog laid upon the water like a thick blanket upon a cold and scared child. Imaginations ran wild, and each stroke of the paddle took them into that place where I go each time I set foot on the River of Ghosts. By the time a reflection of the sun could be seen through the thick fog, we had made it to our destination and had started fishing. There we were, three friends joined by another in his boat, fishing side by side and catching fish in the fog. Laughs that would normally travel forever across the flat swampy area were sucked in by the fog and those secrets told never made it to ears they weren’t to make it to.
My friends learned what great fun shad fishing really was and in the midst of the morning, the words came out of Chuck’s mouth and I knew he was dead on. “This is what I imagine fishing in heaven to be like. Up in the clouds, on a neat little river, with good friends and fish biting.” And so it became that my saltiest of friends will now be joining me each year as I stray from the comfort of the IRL and make that journey down the St. John’s River for two months of the year chasing the shad run.
~ Tammy Wilson