Fishing With Bobby Whitehead 2010

Fishin' With Bobby Whitehead

Bobby Whitehead and Steve Nellis were my best friends growing up in the Panama Canal Zone, especially fishing. Stover Jenkins, Billy Boatwright, Fred Bales, Charlie Gustafson, and a few others were in that same league but we did different things together.

Somehow I missed the usual school functions, dances and events. I was too busy fishing and hunting and jeeping and boating and skin diving. Panama was an adventure unto itself. Besides, I was very shy back then and fishing with my pals was easier. Girls would come later.

Bobby lived in Ancon only a few houses away from me. He was born 20 days after I was born in the same hospital in the same jungle. We were destined to be best friends. Then we both moved to La Boca ( the "mouth" of the canal) and the proximity to the water drew us even closer together as we walked the shoreline almost every day from La Boca to the Balboa Yacht Club to go fishing.

We'd catch black iguanas on the rocks along the way, and sometimes catch a lot of fish once we got to the yacht club. We always caught some. We let the lizards go so we could stalk them going back home, but we always cleaned the fish for our moms.

There is no way to express the depth of this song other than to listen to it. Both Bobby and Steve were intuitive fishermen. They knew just what to use for bait and how to wiggle it. They never wore shoes except to school and while riding motorcycles. It was all I could do just to keep up with them. Of course if they were alive today, they would probably say the same about me. We were something, but I wore shoes...

I miss my two best friends every day. They were incredible characters. Life changers. Goodbye old pals. Here's to you...

(and to Stover, and Courtney, and Johnny, and Paco, and CJ, and Lou, and Tommy, and Cos, and Conrad, and Al, and Buddy, and Andy, and Boat, and Bales, and Charlie, and Jim, and Kurt, and Eddie, and Rob, and Hugh, and Dee, and Daryl, and Bedsworth... I won't list the girls.... )



Fishing with Bobby Whitehead


I was born on the edge of the jungle, where tigers and crocodiles roam

And I hunted and fished with my father and friends, Panama was my home

I would fish on the rocks of the channel, with a tow-headed boy of my youth

Chasing iguanas and catching large sharks, and the fish literally jumped on our hooks


Fishing with Bobby Whitehead, man how that boy could fish

Through all kinds of weather my barefooted friend, fishing with Bobby Whitehead


We had a friend who was smarter than both of us, Steve Nellis was his name

Steve's brother shot himself right in the head, and Steve was never the same

Both Steve and Bobby died very young, in their fifties quite surprised

Steve died of drinking, Bobby by accident, and I wonder why I'm still alive


Fishing with Bobby Whitehead, God, how that boy could fish

Through all kinds of weather my barefooted friend, fishing with Bobby Whitehead


Now I've told my kids all kinds of stories, about Bobby and Steve and me

Crazy tales the three of us did, and I swear every one of them's real


Fishing with Bobby Whitehead, man how that boy could fish

Through all kinds of weather my barefooted friend, fishing with Bobby Whitehead

Yeah, fishing with Bobby Whitehead, God, how that boy could fish

Through all kinds of weather my barefooted friend, fishing with Bobby Whitehead

Fishing with Bobby Whitehead


© Mark Darden, written in Morehead City, NC, July 4, 2010
First few tracks recorded by Bill McDonald in his studio in Asheville NC
The rest recorded and mastered at Cedar Lane Tune Shop, Stovall NC in 2011