Gandy Boat Ramp - Salty Sol Fleischman Boat Ramp
We’ll meet you at the Gandy Boat Ramp.
That comment by a voice on the phone is the same one almost anyone fishing Tampa Bay has heard or said to their friends at least once or twice before a day of fishing. The ramp is located just about in the middle of the bay on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge. The bridge, built before World War II by a local guy named Bud Gandy, has a long history and is itself a major fishery. The ramp, which has itself been there for many years, is a common place to launch your boat for a day of fishing.
Sol Fleischman Boat Ramp
Who the hell is ‘Salty’ Sol Fleischman? He was one of the very first outdoor writers who focused his life on the same fish we target. He has an artificial ramp named after him, but this ramp is actually his ramp (in concept, at least), and he was the guy who created the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, of which many members of our team are members.
Sol did as much for making fishing happen here and for getting the state identified as a fishing capital of the world as anybody. For that reason alone, more people should know who he was. And is.
Part of Our Community
Like we said, the ramp is a place where a lot of people meet. While I was there with a camera on a tripod, an old guy walked by. I can call him an old guy because I’m one too. I figured him to be in his 80s.
“What you doing here?” he asked with a Spanish accent. Cuban, to be exact.
“I’m 86. I’ve survived cancer three times. I’m waiting for my son so we can go fishing.”
I could tell it wasn’t the first time. “That your kid?”
Nelson Rodriguez Sr–the older of the pair–was so happy, so alive, so committed to spending the day with his kid and to finding out what I was doing with the Nikon on the tripod, that it brightened my heart to talk to him.
In Spanish, I said to the younger of the two–a very handsome guy roughly near my own age–“Cubanos?” He answered that they were, and that they were legal. That their family had always been here legally. I laughed and said I appreciated his comment, but the dad-son thing was what had me tickled. I could feel us touch in that way that family–and understanding its importance–does to a guy.
“You speak good Spanish,” the younger of the two said.
“I can find the bathroom if I need to.”
Good day. And remember, the next time you’re going to meet someone at the Gandy Boat Ramp, call it by the right name.