Familiar waters…

I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to drive all over Florida and even to Louisiana to fish unfamiliar waters.  It is always a great challenge to learn to fish a new area, meet the usual suspects, and get a feel for the local flavor.  But no matter where I travel to, I always find myself missing my home waters in the Florida Keys.  Once our water warms, the pristine crystal clear flats are inhabited by the world class game fish of the silvery kind… 3 of a different kind to be exact.  The sight of any big bonefish, tarpon, or permit cruising in front of the bow of the skiff is enough to make any fly chucker grin from ear to ear.  You stand there replaying scenes of presenting your fly to your target and watching the whole scene line up like clockwork.  We are in Islamorada, you can get the perfect shot off and the fish may veer off its projected path, mud passed your fly, change it’s intended coarse, run for the hills, or present one of it’s many not so friendly gestures back at you.  But there are many times when it just happens, when your efforts pay off even in the most adverse conditions.  These are the moments some of us live for, both the rejections and the successes.  They both keep us coming back for more.  Luckily, I live here and am able to trade a desk in for a Maverick Mirage skiff, a pen for a push pole, and a closed in office for the open waters of the Florida Keys.

I took a busman’s holiday one day this past weekend and no 20kt wind was going to stop me from picking up a fly rod and punching a crab fly into the wind.  It had been a while since I got some real bow time on my skiff in the Keys.  More and more, it just seems that I find myself in the back pushing the skiff and playing the role of fishing guide.  It was never always like that.  I started off as the dude in the front listening to what my guide had to say.  That role has changed these days, but it is always a breath of fresh air to take the bow from time to time and be reminded of how it feels to have all the pressure dumped on you when a group of big bonefish stampedes towards the bow.  It is a great feeling of accomplishment to be the guide and to set your anglers up for their shot and be able to watch the entire episode unfold.  But today was all about the role reversal.  I got my time on the bow of my own skiff admist the bonefish who fought the 20 knot winds as much as we did.  My buddy Tim and I swapped fishing/poling duties on the bow this day.  We fought that nasty wind, but also fought to stay connected to the bonefish that ate our flies.  Out of the 4 big bonefish we hooked, I did managed to land one nice weight fish on an experimental crab fly that I had been working on.  This bonefish tried all the tricks of a pinball wizard, it zigged, it zagged, it charged the boat several times… but luckily (for me) I was fishing a new Nautilis G9 Fly reel with a wicked fast retreive ratio that allowed me to keep up with these suicide dashes for freedom. 

Islamorada bonefish on Fly

We made this a short day and returned to the dock content.  Along the way back to Key Largo, we saw an unfortunate familiar sight; another careless boater had grounded himself on a sandbar.  The water had only receeded half way so that boat wasn’t getting out anytime soon.  First time and even experienced boaters really need to pay attention and follow the marked channels when navigating though even the clearest water.  It’s certainly not too much fun to stand next to your boat dumbfounded as it is sitting sideways on a sandbar only to have some a-hole like myself motor passed you taking pictures. 


Anyways… This weekend allowed me to catch up on tying flies and catching up with tons of things on my to-do list.   So I am stocking up my tarpon box waiting for the train to roll into town… and I wait patiently…

Tarpon from last May 2010

Until next time, stay tuned…