Delgado and I had been buddies since grade school. He was Cuban-American with a passion for snook. I was a die-hard offshore junkie. Although I pretended to enjoy my sleepless nights chasing linesiders with my Cuban amigo, I really only did it out of boredom. I should mention that I’m somewhat of a salt who doesn’t smile much, while Delgado is a child trapped in a grown man’s body. While we had very different personalities, somehow we got along extremely well.


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Illustration: David Goldstein

I remember a distinct baitfishing trip when Delgado was unusually euphoric. He was grinning from ear to ear, mesmerized by the shiny luster of the scaled baitfish.

Keeping an eye on my own baits was hard enough, but Delgado was uncontrollable and paid more attention to the baits in the livewell then the ones dangling below his kite.

“These fish are incredible! I can’t get over how stunning they are,” he commented.

“Umm…Delgado, you’ve probably caught 10,000 pilchard in your life. What makes these so special?” I responded.

“I don’t know man, they’re just amazing. Look at the color spectrum on their scales,” he continued.

“Ok. Whatever you say Delgado, just don’t handle the baits for too long.” I replied.

As it happens, our daily lives became so busy that we hadn’t fished together in a while, so I planned a day for us to reconnect.

It was a steamy summer morning and we were geared up to head offshore. Delgado arrived way too early and his knocking on my front door was a rude awakening.

“Hey buddy, you ready? It’s going to be a great day. I’m so pumped,” he shouted through the locked door.

Greeting him at the front door, his eyes were as big as a mystic grouper hauled up from 2,000 feet. It appeared as if he had already downed several cups of espresso…and sunrise was still hours away.

I was excited to get out on the water, but well aware of Delgado’s euphoric state and 24/7 high-on-life mentality…not to mention his very short attention span.

We made our way to the dock and before long we were headed down the ICW en route to the inlet. While I focused on navigating in the dark, I mentioned to Delgado what the plans were. After going through my spiel for a few minutes, I turned to see that Delgado hadn’t been paying attention at all. I had been talking to myself while he fondled the baits in the livewell.

His attention span was that of an infant and when we made it out to the grounds, I asked if he could handle flying a kite. He readily accepted and we proceeded to drift and dream with kites flying high.

Kite fishing requires a keen eye and anglers must make constant adjustments. Keeping an eye on my own baits was hard enough, but Delgado was uncontrollable and paid more attention to the baits in the livewell then the ones dangling below his kite.

“These baits are so sweet. I can’t get over how cool they are,” he continued.

“Delgado! Your baits are flying, pay attention,” I shouted in his direction.

“Sorry, I promise I’ll pay better attention,” he admitted.

Not a minute later and I look towards the stern to see Delgado dip netting sargassum patches and shaking out the sea life on the gunnel.

“Check out these baby shrimp, ooh…there’s a crab!”

His kite baits were now 15 feet out of the water.

“Your baits are dead. Bring in your kite and reset the spread. And pay more attention,” I exclaimed.

Two hours later and it was the same story. Delgado couldn’t keep his hands out of the livewell. Finally, I came to realize and accept that some people are just high on life. No matter what’s going on around them, somehow they are able to step back and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings. Nowadays I fish with Delgado as often as possible, and I have to say that his positive attitude has rubbed off on me. I now enjoy every minute of every day.