Eye of the Tiger
"Hello Lefty, this is Cindy Garrison. Any interest in coming to Africa with me?" This is how Garrison tried to get her idea off the ground. She called the legendary Lefty Kreh, who didn't know her, and anyone else she could think of to come and cast a fly in Botswana. Finally, she hooked a big name-Ed Rice, the founder of International Sportmen's Exposition, and a well-known personality in fly-fishing circles. "We went fishing and kicked ass," Garrison says. And from the successful trip she planted the seeds to establish Safari Anglers, which still runs tigerfishing trips to Botswana today.
At one point, Garrison held the world record for tigerfish on the fly. Tigerfish are harsh, aggressive predators with vicious sharp teeth protruding from their mouths. In stalking them, she had to endure confrontations with crocodiles and hippos. Hardcore stuff, and a part of who she is.
Yet, there's that another part, the one that shows itself in the Galapagos. Back on the bow of the panga, Garrison is teaching her friend Kelly Cruickshank how to cast a fly. On her first cast with a fly rod in her life, Cruickshank, a banker, hooks a small grouper. "Oh my god!" she screams, and Garrison echoes her. Garrison helps her strip in the fish, and the two jump up and down on the bow as if Cruickshank has set her own world record. The scene illustrates one of the basic themes of Garrison's message.
"It's not true that if you're not an expert you won't have fun," she says of the snobbery that tends to course through the sport. "You just need to be good enough to catch a fish."
This vibe, as much as anything, is why Costa Del Mar Sunglasses brought her to these islands in the first place. "Cindy has this unbelievable ability to inspire people to plug into their passion and follow their dreams," say Al Perkinson of Costa. "It's an important and powerful gift."
On another day in the Galapagos, again trolling for marlin on a shelf far offshore of Santa Cruz, the boat runs across a huge disturbance on the surface. It is a pod of dolphins-over a hundred in all, and they rush over to the boat in a leaping, boiling mass. The dolphins take position on the bow, rising and falling with the water being pushed aside by the boat's sharp forefoot. The captain stops the boat to allow his passengers to absorb the moment, and the marlin spread lies limp behind the drifting boat, the fishing prospects gone bleak. As the dolphin leap and flip mirthfully around the boat, Garrison stands on the gunwale in the cockpit and does what you'd expect her to. She screams, and dives right in.