I skipped a year. And I caught grief for it. No Year in Review for 2017, I made sure I did it for this year.
2018 had ups and downs. A bad Red Tide affected business. Great fishing with the Red Tide never touching my areas I go. The passing of my father. That was the biggest event of the year. It took me about six months to get used to the idea. An acceptance thing I have never faced before, I lost my biggest resource. He got me through the house buying thing before his decline and demise. He made it 84 years. He led an impressive life and did it right to the end. I was still adjusting to no more Grandpa Taylor, 20 years out, and this one really changed the world. My father was truly the only who who understood me. My mother wouldn’t like what I was in to and doing. My father would express in eloquence, the understanding of the essence of how I was trying to live. He supported it. Now, he would criticize. But I can’t remember him ever telling me I was wrong. I always had strength after I talked to him. Now I have to summon it on my own.
My mother has done well. That was a big loss for her. Together more than six decades, it is something she hadn’t experienced but she did just fine. She is making plans to make another change. A move to Ohio. Her sisters are there. The rest of the family is there. There is just plain more for her there and it is a good idea. Christmas was the first really tough day for her. I understand that. It has been a year of big change for her. I dedicated my book to her. My mother is literally the nicest person you have ever met (if you have had the chance). Ah, if I could have been more like her, wouldn’t my life have been easier? She’s 83. It’s harder. But she’s still doing it. My hope is that her move to Ohio is one of the most fun things she has ever done in life. Leaving where she has been for 47 years: That’s no small thing. Sara and Mary Ina are there. All the cousins are there. It is where she is from. Kind of a full circle thing: I’m looking forward to seeing the good things that happen.
I had three other friends from my age group that died. Two from cancer. Just not their good luck. It’s life. You never know when cancer is going to take you. It could happen to me tomorrow. If it does: I lived my life the way I wanted to. If I live to be 80, fine. If I drop dead tomorrow: That’s all right too. I did it my way. Easier that I have no wife and kids: It would be less of a loss if I stroked out. But it’s not what the doctors say. They’re telling me I’m going to live a long time.
Fishing is the big thing. The web site. Charters. I did fewer charters than I have in many years. A longer than usual slow season, I did more in early 2018 than the second half. Many repeat clients. Great pompano action the second year in a row. Flounder finally got better (after two years of wondering). Trout: Always good. Redfish are closed for the first time in 20 years. Their reasoning? Red Tide. Redfish have been in trouble years before the Red Tide. Snook also closed are even worse. We face serious issues without serious people in charge of making the decisions. It’s tragic. Anyone who lives here and knows fishing, I don’t have to tell them. All fishing is tougher, not just snook. Human pressures are obvious. The future: Uncertain. The ecosystem does pretty well if we give it a chance. We don’t have anyone in charge leading a charge to give it a chance. There’s me. Scotty Moore pushes me. I act. I got their attention. I try. I feel like I fail but in reality, I’m doing something. It doesn’t go for nothing. But it is frustrating. Solutions are just not a regular thing.
The fishing was decent. No question: It isn’t as good as it used to be. No one wants to hear that. But face reality: There are millions more people here than there used to be. Some of the new people are fishing. The number of people fishing increases but the resource stays the same. The resource suffers. We suffer from a lack of people in charge to make correct decisions on resource management. If Dad were alive he would tell you, “If Neil was in charge, things would work better.” He said that regularly. During my battles, most of which he told me not to do, he said that he admired me for one really simple reason. I was right. And because I was right I wasn’t backing down. He was amused. I was aggravated but he was entertained. In success, he gave me compliments I never got from him before. Having my father happy with me was enough to throw a party. I am sorry that he is gone but I tip my hat to him on what he did. AMAZING. Where he came from and where he ended up? Wow. Just wow. I am just sorry for my Mom that she lost that. They were together for longer than anyone really. He just ran out of time.
Red Tide knocked it down for all of us. Hopefully dwindling and maybe even over: It was bad. The guys an hour south: Lost their big snook. They were most of the big snook we had. The future of that species is in great peril. Lots of small fish, in 20 years that species might be back. With different management decisions the ability to come back would be 1000% better.
Kayak Fishing Skool in it’s 14th year: A new location? My house served the last time and worked all right. My house is the host site in 2019. The grill and firepit active: People should enjoy my place as the host site.
14 years also with the Times. Twice a month now. I took over Doug Hemmer’s spot when he died. I am starting to get nominated for awards for my other writing. I discourage that. I don’t want awards, I just want to do what I do. I’ve been published in the area of 25,000 times. Who can say that in their life? And this week: A true published author, my first book is in print. They have the draft for the second book. The third book will follow pretty fast. Projects that sat there for a long time: I was ready to put them to bed. My work is complete. It’s solid. I have written the best Kayak Fishing book that has ever existed. Book #2 is Fishing Tampa Bay. Book #3 is the one that might pay the mortgage for a decade. That one I want to manipulate for a while but it is almost ready too.
How many people really care that I wrote a book? We will find out. Initial orders ahead of printing are actually pretty decent. I’d like to mow through sales to reach that break-even point pretty fast. I’d like to use what happens after that to launch the second book. With a standard effort the third book is going to be coming up fast. That one is the one that could be worthwhile.
No “when guides go on vacation” for two years either. I haven’t taken a vacation, something I expect to change this year. No word yet on what Hurricane Michael did to my vacation spot. I need to find Mark’s phone number to call him and find out. He built that house well and he was just a few mile away from the dead center of the storm.
It took me my whole life but I finally got banned from a Pub. I chalk it up to a vendetta started by jealousy. It is a jealousy I’ve experienced enough times in life. This guy just wanted me to be gone. After all the business I brought in there for ten years I was treated like a substandard human being. They don’t realize the extent of it but there are enough people who value the person that I am, it is a pretty good boycott. Others aren’t necessarily boycotting but they aren’t happy that they don’t see me in there anymore. Onward and upward, I just found other places to go. Honestly, it didn’t hurt me any. Deprived of some of my friends, what are you going to do? If I’m not wanted somewhere: I don’t go there. Do what you want. I am not leading the boycott. I want to be left alone. The interesting one is the six foot seven 300-pound guy from college who isn’t happy about it at all. He is planning on coming down and he did not appreciate the disrespect. I told him not to. It appears he might not listen to me. His choice. To be honest, I would like to pull up a chair and watch.
Forget that stuff: I bought a house. My house is probably more of a baseball museum than anything else. And I don’t even have all of that stuff displayed. First time home owner: I wish I did it earlier for sure. Owning a house is the way to go. It has been about ten months. I moved in, the place was rough. I spent four months just killing weeds. No one that ever lived here planted anything. I put bushes and plants everywhere. To eliminate dirt situations, I put in a deck. The moves coming up: A roof for the deck and a door going from the house to the deck. It is really coming along. Conclusion of the projects I desire: It will be ready for big league umpires here at spring training. This will be party central for umpires.
John Veil is in like his sixth year of fishing with me. From Annapolis, Maryland I believe John does it right. He likes to fish and in his retirement, he’s going fishing as much as he can pretty much until he can’t do it anymore. He is going strong. Not only did he put in like 30 trips with me again, he’s already booked for January and February. Generally good luck with weather for John this year, it seemed like the bite was always better the day before he got here. But he did all right. Routinely he brings his fishing buddies along. Those guys have enjoyed my new house. I like to entertain.
Disappointing human beings. There were a bunch of them. If I told the stories you wouldn’t believe it. Surreal some of it. If my father were still alive, some of it wouldn’t stand. He would be very unhappy with one situation. Alas, I can handle it. As it goes with me: I eliminate the problem and I move on. So many of these issues over the years. I don’t ask for anything. But a little respect would be nice. I believe the strength of my personality remains the biggest problem. Well, the best I can tell, I’m not going to change. One of my best friends who got me talking one night (was extremely bothered with the stories) said to me, “The last thing we need in this world is for you to change. Just get rid of them.” Done. In life, some of that is easier than others. But it is a good way to live. You want to treat me one way: I don’t like it. It’s over. Period. Not everyone can do it that way. I can.
I became a hockey fan last year. I liked the game for decades. I took to this local team. They have the best record in the entire league. I’d enjoy it either way but they are looking like a championship team. Baseball cured me of being a real fan. They lose: It doesn’t affect me any. I do enjoy watching them win, which happens a lot.
Moving forward: 2019 will be more of the same. The house continues to improve. Fishing and web site stuff will just keep going. To me: Every day is Thanksgiving. I have had nothing but greatness in my life. A great family. Success. I went toe-to-toe with big leaguers. I made a place in the fishing world where now, people want me to be involved in anything that is going on. In a year of loss, you have to remember what you have. I cannot complain. I never found that good-looking rich woman, but I’m not out of time.