C.J. refurbishing boat lift bulks

Loretta Geotis watches from the porch as her fishing columnist husband refurbishes boat lift bunks.

Well, I’ve done it again. Christmas Day has come and gone. Some people I know took my suggestions for Christmas gifts and I got gift cards to spend at my favorite tackle shops. Now, that sounds like a great thing, doesn’t it? Well, it is … unless you are an obsessive-compulsive fishing tackle gadget freak. Here’s what happened. I opened a gift cards for $25 and later opened another for $50. I have been holding on to a store credit for $10 so that brought me up to $85. Then, I thought about the jar where I keep fishing money. Fishing money? You know, the money that people chip in when they go fishing with you to help pay for expenses: fuel, chum, bait, ice, outboard motor oil, lost fishing gear, lost fishing lures, hooks, tackle, boat repairs, registration, rods, reels, did I mention fuel. Anyway, there was $30 in the jar — I’m up to $115.

Wow, $115 that I am supposed to spend on fishing gear. How cool is that? Hey, what about if I added some of my rolled-up coins to this growing treasure trove? My wife says that I’ve spent those rolled up coins ten times already. Perhaps she’s right. It seems like I never get to fulfill the promise of replacing the money I just spent with the rolled-up coins. Oh well, I’m OK with this process. I’ve bought some of my favorite things with those rolled up coins, and the best part is I still have all the coins, so I can spend them again. And again. And again. And again. So, add $60 to the kitty, and voila — $175. And I might as well throw in some regular old money, say $50 and now I have $225 to spend on fishing equipment. Woo-hoo. I love the way I think.

So, what should I buy? I love Iland Lures, but I’ve already got a bunch of them. I love Williamson’s line of Vortex butterfly-style deep jigs. I’ve got a bunch of them too. Billy Bait’s mini-turbos? Got ‘em. Cy’s Flies, got them too. How about a new rod or reel? Not too long ago I did a count of all my rods and reels. For those of you who did not read that story, I am not going to repeat the number. Why any one person would need that many rods and reels, even I can’t figure out. But, I can honestly say that each and every one of them has a specific use, and purpose, and my life would be totally miserable if I were to give up even one.

What about something for the boat? I just redid the console on the EP2, replaced the gauges and switch panels, fuse blocks and lots of wiring, so I don’t need anything there. I’ve got three tackle boxes and two lure bags. I could always use more, but I’m not even close to really needing one. I could use some new fishing shorts and shirts, but ever since I was old enough to understand the Christmas gift idea, I knew Christmas shouldn’t be wasted on clothes. Especially for a man. So, that’s out.

What a quandary. By now the $225 has grown to $250. I don’t know why my mind expanded the amount like that, but it did. Maybe accrued interest? Who knows? Who cares? I’ve got two-hundred and fifty bucks to spend on fishing stuff. My only problem is I don’t know what to buy. Then, it struck me. I need some hooks for yellowtail fishing. I’ve been using smaller hooks and lighter fluorocarbon leaders lately when fishing for yellowtails. I’ve actually been using No. 6 or even No. 8 bait-holding hooks. They are small, very small. I can’t see them well enough to tie them to a leader or put the bait on them without my glasses. I don’t think this has anything to do with age. I think these hooks are just too small for anyone to see without visual reinforcement. And, obviously, they are too small for the yellowtails to see, because they gobble up the tiniest pieces of bait never shying away like they do when presented with larger hooks. That’s what I need, fish hooks.

Immediately, I went to my bookcase and pulled out a portion of my collection of saltwater-fishing equipment catalogs. I sat down at the computer and started an online search for No. 8 hooks. I buy locally whenever possible. But, I have found it much easier to research equipment and/or methods online than in person. So, usually, by the time I walk into my favorite local stores I know what I want, how to use it and have a rough idea how much it should cost. After concentrated and exhaustive research, I found that 40 No. 8 bait-holder hooks cost approximately $5. Even if I buy 80 of them, I am not even close to spending my budget amount — which I now perceive as $275. Oh, what the heck, let’s just round it off to $300.

In the deep recesses of my alleged mind, I suddenly remembered that I have wanted to change the bunks on my boatlift. There’s flight of ideas for you. And ... 60 minutes later I have my boatlift partially sitting on the seawall; tools and hardware scattered about like sugar ants on the trail of discarded Christmas-shortbread cookies left on the kitchen counter. Loretta is upset because I am tight-roping out to the end of the lifting arms with a handful of tools and no life jacket. I explain that I don’t need a lifejacket because if I fall in the water, I will just swim back to the dock ladder. In that tone of voice that says, “I love you — but you’re an idiot,” she asks, “What if you hit your head and go unconscious?” I hadn’t thought of that. My dad used to always say, “Don’t start vast projects with half-vast ideas.” I guess he was right. The boatlift project turned out to be much more involved than I had hoped. I need some more materials and the stores are all closed so I will have to finish that project in the morning. Effectively, the tackle purchase has come to a screeching halt. At least my spending frenzy is on hold. I guess that’s a good thing. I really can’t guarantee just how much that original $75 might grow overnight, but it doesn’t really matter. Because, after all is said and done, life is good in the Florida Keys, life is very good in the Florida Keys.

C.J. Geotis is a life-long fisherman who followed his dream to live in the Florida Keys more than ten years ago. He lives in Marathon with his wife, Loretta. His e-mail is fishstoriescj@comcast.net