In Search of Gray Ghosts
Part 3: With a loud tail splash, he speeds off.
By M. B. Roberts
Stanczyk, Gaspeny, and Modra climb into Stanczyk’s 14-foot gray Maverick skiff. Stanczyk backs the boat out slowly, then putters under the bridge that connects the Keys to the mainland. Once past the bridge, he guns it, reaching 28 mph, then 30 mph, then slows as he passes through the narrow mangroves near the Lorelei, the famed Keys waterfront hangout with the big mermaid sign. Then it’s full speed towards miles of shallow open water.
When Stanczyk reaches a spot that he likes, he stops the boat and proceeds to hand out rods to Modra and Gaspeny. He’s in full-captain mode, giving instructions regarding bait (Modra should try a crab this time—he might get a big one on that) as he simultaneously climbs up onto the skiff’s poling platform.
“Man, Richard,” Modra says. “I bet you could navigate these flats with your eyes closed.”
“As long as he has electronics,” Gaspeny chuckles.
Back in 1975, when Gaspeny started guiding at Bud & Mary’s, one of the old-salt guides spotted him fishing on his day off. The guide warned Gaspeny if he kept that up he’d be burned out at 40.
Well, Gaspeny is 55, and it’s his day off. And he’s fishing. With a smile on his face.
“I’ve got the same disease as Richard,” Gaspeny says. “I’m just a little more mellow in how I go about it.”
“Ron!” Stanczyk shouts as he begins to pole the boat to the right.
“At 3:00! See ‘em? Cast!”
Modra casts at the 3:00 shadow. But, he’s a few seconds too late. The fish has moved slightly, and the sound of the bait hitting the water spooks him. With a loud tail splash, he speeds off.
“Dang,” Modra says, reeling in. “I’ll bet he was a hog.”
“Maybe we should try different bait,” says Stanczyk. “C’mon! Hand me some shrimp...”
M.B. Roberts is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee, who has written for a number of national magazines.
This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.