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In the pale dawn I was a little fuzzy as I listened to the wind rattling the palm fronds against the house. It was blowing northeast at 20.
An hour later at the dock the Chairman and I met with Gil Drake. I knew from his reputation that he was a world-class fisherman and guide. It was apparent that he was also young, strong and serious to the point of somber intensity. He had fished his whole life—in the Bahamas, the Keys, and other places most of us had only read about.
It was important for me to establish a rapport with Drake. I didn't want to come off as another sun-glazed tourist. I wanted him to know that I was a true believer in all of this. We talked while we loaded the boat. Drake glanced at my old Shakespeare spinning reel hanging from a 6½-foot Wonder Rod, which was made by the same company.
"There's a real classic," Drake said.
"Had it all my life. All my fishing life, anyway."
"Still fish much?"
"Oh, not like I used to, but, you know, whenever I get the chance, I'm out poling around the flats."
"There are reels now that are built much better than this," he said. This was to enlighten, not to criticize.
"Well, maybe one of these days I'll own one—if I ever wear this one out," I said.
I sensed his amusement as he stowed the rest of the gear.