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Welcome to Chokoloskee Charters
Fish Everglades National Park & 10,000 Islands
Light Tackle and Fly Fishing in the Pristine Waters of the Everglades Backcountry
Over one million acres of sheltered waters, excellent year round weather, fine accommodations, a richly diverse fishery ...

Dennis the Menace

 (Everglades Echo March 2004)

In last week's column, I spouted on about how wonderful it is to have kids on board. They get great pleasure in catching fish and I get great pleasure in watching them.  The effect that getting them involved with fishing has on their lives and personality is usually lasting and very positive. They occupy their time with boating and fishing activities rather than hanging around the “bad” influences in their young lives. I encouraged, and still encourage you to “Take a Kid Fishing!!”  But, beware!!

Many fishing guides do not share my same opinion about having kids on their boat.  I used to just think that they were a bit grumpy and salty.  They all did say, however, “You’ll see. Just wait until you meet him!”  I did not get it.

I had just washed the boat and was idling over to where I was to pick up my party when I saw him.  Even from a distance you could tell that there was something devilish about his ways. Maybe it was the way he tore away from his fathers arm, picked up a palm limb and smacked the little girl who was with him. I am not sure what is was, but it was spooky. By the time I got to the dock, her face had stopped bleeding, however.

He was about four feet tall, had sandy colored hair and freckles. He wore blue jeans, sneakers and a tee shirt that said “Spoiled Rotten; So What?”.  But his eyes … His eyes were green … green like a snake’s.  They seemed to glow at me …scary like.  When we first had eye contact, it sent chills down my spine … I knew that I was in trouble.

His name was Dennis.  I do not remember his father’s name, or the name of the wonderfully polite, sweet little girl with him or her father’s.  I just remember Dennis.

Dennis was laughing at the bleeding little girl as I pulled up … so I thought.  Actually he was not laughing at her.  He was laughing at the fact that he had just stepped in a doggy landmine, pulled away from his father who was trying to clean things up and had launched himself over the side of the dock and was flying through the air targeting my cushions with his shoe.  Aghhh…direct hit! He was laughing at me! 

His landing was a slider, but he didn’t get hurt, because I had reached out and grabbed a snotty shirt sleeve. Before I could get a solid grasp he had made doggy landmine tracks all over the boat. His father just smiled at me as I was washing the deck down, and said, “Isn’t he cute?”.  I thought I caught a glimpse of the other dad’s neck shaking from the chills running up his spine.

I shut the hose down, got everyone on board, pushed from the dock, and Dennis spouted to his dad … “Where’s the live bait? I don’t see the live bait. We are not going to fish without live bait are we?”.  He ran from hatch to hatch opening everything, looking for the bait.  By the time, I could reach him he had scattered on the deck my sun block, bags of jigs, spilled a package of hooks and had sinkers rolling over the floor.  He had removed some large tarpon plugs from where I had them stored and immediately hooked them deeply into the little girls jacket.  We were less than 100 feet from the dock.  His father turned to me and said.  “Isn’t he cute?”.

After, cleaning things up and doing a little surgery on the jacket, we started out again. I guess I was thinking out loud when I let slip something about the virtues of extra-strength duct tape.  Nobody heard me.

“What about the live bait?” I told him if he would like, we would catch our own bait.  He liked that idea saying, “If we are going to catch bait, I am going to throw the net!”.  With some sort of Satanist homing sense he went directly to where I stow my nets, opened the hatch cover, pulled out my new $200 net and in a flash threw it overboard.  The little girl’s father, luckily grabbed the end of the line so we would not lose it, but the momentum of the boat pulled up over the net which proceeded to tangle in the lower unit.  I untangled the net, put it up and looked at the father, as he said, “Isn’t he cute”

We headed out again making it to the point where I could get up on plane.  I ask everyone to stay seated, get comfortable and hang on to their hats. Dennis, launched out of his chair, raced on to the front deck, turned around with his hand on his hips and announced, “I am riding here”.  I had to ask him to get down and take his seat …he simply said …”NO!” … I explained to him that I could let him ride up there because safety and that he would need to get down before we could go further …”NO!”.  Dad just said, “Isn’t he cute”.  .  I am sure that someone had to have heard me about the duct tape this time.

We idled for 15 minutes.  Dennis, bored with the idle, finally sat down and we were able to get on a plane.  There is not enough room in this newspaper for me to tell you it all.  I was a very tough day.  Incidences involving flying cherry drinks, knives, bait guts, stomping live fish, four simultaneous tangled lines, cast nets again, and more hooks in the little girl’s jacket marked the whole trip.  Every time we tried to take off, Dennis was on the front deck saying “No!” and his dad would just smile and say “Isn’t he cute”.

I still love taking kids fishing and still encourage all to do the same.  But the old timers were right …  I now know.  I now understand.  He lives. Dennis the Menace is real.  I had him on the boat. And despite what is dad claims, he is not cute.  He is evil and scary.  He has changed my life … my beard is a bit more white, my hair more grey and my attitude a bit more salty. And, I am afraid … afraid for the rest of us.  If this kid grows up, the world will not be safe.  There needs to be a law to prevent him from reproducing to protect the rest of us.  I am calling my representative today.

By the way, they did finally catch some trout.  I only caught a head ache! Tight Lines!!!

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For more information or to book a charter with Capt. Charles Wright:

CHOKOLOSKEE CHARTERS
"Not Just Another Boat Ride"
P.O. Box 824 Chokoloskee Island, Florida 34138
Phone: 239-695-9107     FAX: 239-695-9108
Email: Captain Charles Wright
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