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An Epicurean's Approach to Angling

An Epicurean's Approach to Angling

Ancient Greek philosophers strived to establish what they called summum bonum, “the greatest good to which all human effort in life should be directed.” I learned this from a 78-year-old angler who described himself as an Epicurean.

My wife, Leigh, and I had arrived in the Florida Keys in February, having made the tedious drive from Colorado for a two-month stay in Marathon. While fly-fishing from foot along a narrow causeway on Middle Torch Key, I saw a guy poling another angler in what appeared to be a small skiff. The seated angler was tangling with a large fish. I had waded out onto a flat on the incoming tide, trying not to stumble on small coral heads or step on sea urchins. The water was clear and knee-deep. I had a shrimp pattern tied to the tippet of my 8-weight fly rod. I wasn’t seeing fish. Meanwhile, over by the mangroves, those anglers were into another tussle.

Several hours (and no bites) later, I began the long trudge back to my truck, where I spotted the other anglers dragging a canoe out of the water. I wandered over and introduced myself. I asked how they fared, remarking that I’d seen them hook a good fish. “Oh, the first one was a lemon shark. We caught a nice barracuda, too, but the flat…

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