Catching Is Different Than Fishing
by Tom Greene

We all have heard the stories about the various ways of going fishing.  This relates back for thousands of years.  I am going to try to explain that there is a difference and why.

I started to tell someone recently about how I caught my first snook over 50 years ago.  I was not fishing.  I was catching and boy did I catch them on Palmetto Park Road.  There was only one boat ramp that you backed your car or truck down to and then you would slide your boat off being careful not to slip on the green slime on the ramp and almost kill yourself.  At that time in my life, I was 11 years old.  The boats all left at 10 pm and I was just standing there, and the tide started going out because it was running real fast to the south towards the Boca Inlet.  Now, at this time in my life I was already an expert, or so I thought.  I was carrying on a conversation with an old man and he said did you ever catch a snook and I had never even been close to catching one.  He then said would you like to?

That night changed my life.  I no longer went fishing, I went catching.  I just sat there and he explained the difference to me and everything I needed to know.  I caught 25 snook in the next couple of hours.  I was no longer fishing.  I was catching one after another and, as I recall, did so for the next 6 nights, one after another, as fast as I could catch a bait and hook it on my line.  I would walk out to the end of the dock, drop the bait in the water, and by now I understood what he was telling me about what to do and how to do it.  As a result, we were catching one after another and I have used this method of fishing all over the world these past 50+ years.

What we had was the current making all of the bait fish in the canal come to me in the millions, or maybe just a few thousand.  They stayed in the current in a big ball, all in one big circle swimming around and around in a tight ball using the sides of the boat ramp for protection.

The man’s name was Dale Flickinger, a true fisherman who taught me the ART of catching snook that night.  Even back then we had a size limit and a catch limit. That I would never forget.  You could keep 4 legal size fish a night.  They had to be 18 inches long from the nose to the fork of the tail, and that night I caught my first 21 fish and he watched and measured every single one and made me release every one.   It was well after midnight before I caught one big enough to keep, all 18 ½ inches long.  At that time in my life we lived on NE 36th Street, 16 blocks north of 20th Street or 36 blocks north of Palmetto Park Road.  At that moment I knew my father and older brother were out looking for me.  I was out catching snook and I have caught 15-20 thousand snook since that night, but that first 18 ½ inch fish changed my whole life.

I’m easy to find.  Track me down or read the book I wrote, “Net Full of Tails,” with many more stories still to come.  Go catching.  It’s a lot more fun.