Batfishing in the Rainforest: Truth and Tall Tales about Fishing, Traveling and Life
Don’t let the title deceive you, Batfishing in the Rainforest is not just about fishing (for bats or otherwise) nor does it take place in the rainforest. Randy Wayne White’s book is rather a collection of tales that range from comic to tear-jerking, from adventure to absurdity.
These are travel tales that read as though they were being told over a campfire or a cold beer at the end of the day. Spending years as a fishing guide in Sanibel Island Randy spent his off hours traveling and writing.
Working from dawn to dusk out on the water and crafting his tales into the late hours of the night. The book is a reflection of his diligence and patience. Randy’s voice, smooth and distinctly southern, imparts a sense of place and poetry into each story.
Batfishing in the Rainforest is a book about nothing and everything, moments in life worth remembering and the tales that make a man a legend. It is not that Randy’s tales are extraordinary (though sometimes extraordinary things happen in them) but rather that Randy imbues the ordinary with such light. From the famous dog who fishes for cement blocks to a time he had to rescue two naked, and embarrassed, patrons from a remote beach.
Filled with wit, wisdom and a touch of nostalgia, whether you’ve ever cast a line, or not, Batfishing in the Rainforest is a wonderful read to get you in the mood for outdoor adventure or a cross-country road trip. You may even learn a thing or two about fishing without even meaning to.
Excerpt from Crocodiles at Home:
I would have seen my first American crocodile several years ago if the photographer with whom I was traveling had not screamed, “There’s one!” his shout of pure terror inspired addled wading birds to flight ( I could see the birds hanging around in the canopy of the trees I was trying to climb) and caused the croc to submerge, not to reappear.
We were canoeing the upper fringe of Florida Bay, the giant back-water of islands and grass banks that divides mainland Florida form the Florida Keys, which is the last protectory of this country’s rarest of big reptiles: the saltwater croc.
The northern boundary of the bay is, perhaps, the least-traveled water region in the state, and we had paddled most of the day along its monotonous vein-work of swamped mangroves when, halfway up a creek, noticed an odd smell, like cow manure, then an elevated area: a clearing shaded by hardwood trees. I caught an overhanging limb and peered over the rim of the bank into the clearing. The place was one of those leafy caverns, all shadows and sun patches, ripe with egret skins.
The photographer whispered, “something lives here,” which was obvious enough, though his tone communicated it better: “Something dominant lives here,” which was my reading exactly. Even now I don’t understand why I decided to get out of the canoe and have a look. It wasn’t to impress the photographer – photographers cannot be impressed. It had more to do with the aura of that clearing. It was like coming upon a troll’s den in the wilderness: a secret place that smelled bad and where bones were scattered everywhere. Who could resist?
I stood in the canoe long enough to convince myself the resident crocs was not around, then set my sights on the far edge of the clearing where there was a tree big enough to support my weight. The farther I got from the canoe, the faster I walked toward the tree. Almost exactly midway between the canoe and the tree was a large mound of sand: a crocodile nest, I would learn later, but, feeling pressed for time, I didn’t stop.
That’s when the photographer saw the croc, and that’s when he yelled. No, he didn’t yell. He screamed: “There’s one!” To which I, already sprinting, must have called back, “Where?” for just as I leaped for the lowed limb – and missed- I heard: “The damn thing’s right there!” I don’t know much about the American crocodile now; I knew even less then, for Crocodylus acutus is seldom written about and rarely seen.
Almost everyone knows that Florida has alligators; very few know that, long before the Spaniards arrived, saltwater crocodiles inhabited the peninsula (though there were not described scientifically until 1869), and still inhabit remote regions of Florida Bay. What little I knew of saltwater crocs came from reading about Nile crocodiles, which for centuries have added spice to beach sports, and visits to Australia where, in the northern territory, the animal feed on bush creatures and fish when they can’t get a tourist.
Once, when I was fishing for barramundi not far from Broome, a big croc surfaced within casting range of our little boat: a mindless-looking creature, all dragon’s tail and teeth with sleepy slits for eyes that were black with purpose. If we hooked a fish, would he try to take it? I asked my guide. “ Only if he can’t find a ways to knock us out of the bloody boat first,” the guide told me, then offered this humorous anecdote to illustrate:
“A croc took a fisherman up Darwin way last month. Bit his head and shoulders off. Tourists tried to drive the damn thing off with sticks and stones. Funny eh? Croc’s name was Eric -- least that’s what the locals call it. ‘ Eric digested poor so-and-so,’ Bloody odd name of a croc if you ask me.”
Excerpted from Batfishing in the Rainforest © by Randy Wayne White. Excerpted by permission ofthe Lyons Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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