I believe that we truly have some of the best fishing here in South Florida but at the same time, the most challenging fishing compared to most other famed destinations in the world. Those who want to target the famed species on a fly rod will have their success measured by either luck or skill acquired from much practice and time on the water. Some have a natural fishiness to them but most have to put in their time to understand the fishery. Having a good understanding of this fishery and being able to put in work to get it done will make the difference between success and disappointment.
Even with the absence of tarpon, this has without a doubt been one of the most epic summers of fishing I have experienced. I spent most of my Spring on the back of the boat pushing anglers around, chasing tarpon, but the time has come for my off season. This time I take back the bow and hone my fishing back to how it should be. My home waters of Biscayne Bay, Islamorada, Key Largo, and Flamingo have provided the perfect arena for what challenges lay ahead. This time on the bow has really helped me appreciate many things I used to take for granted.
I almost forgot how good the bonefishing in Biscayne Bay was, until I spent one morning there throwing at bonefish with a stronger will to chase down and drill flies into the grass.
The summer doldrums bring forth days when the air is thick, winds are non existant, and tides are slower. These are excellent days for chasing redfish on a flyrod in Flamingo. I got to spend quite a few amazing days fishing the flats of Flamingo with great friends. Recently, my buddy Tim Mahaffey and I released 30 redfish on fly in a matter of 2 hours of fishing before moving on and breaking off a 50lb tarpon on fly. We then spent the afternoon trying to accomplish what I used to think would be a near impossible feat.
So what do you do after an already epic morning of backcountry fishing? How about trying to break a 3 year permit curse? Days before this fishing trip, Tim and I were putting together a game plan. I suggested a morning of redfishing and possible pooning. Tim suggested we try to catch me my first permit on fly that afternoon on our way back. Sounds like a solid plan that would come to fruition.
Those who enjoy fishing for permit have got to be gluttons for punishment. The experience completely screws with your head as feeding this fish is not like anything else you chuck a fly at. The major draw to Permit fishing has got to be the hunt. When you try to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to make it happen. Yes, this is a glorified jack, but a glory fish with a forked
tongue tail nonetheless. Who would have guessed a fish can cause such grief as well as give me cases of temporary insanity. I spent countless evenings analyzing flies like Merkins and other crab flies picking apart what the main draw was within that fly that made a permit bit it. I debated about what kind of presentation would work best, stripping a fly or dropping it. It was like trying to figure out what piece of the puzzle I was missing when a fish ether snuffed my fly or chased it. Catching a tailing permit on fly in shallow water is without a doubt the pinnacle of saltwater light tackle fly fishing.
I have been trying to catch a permit on fly for the past 3 years, given the limited bow time I actually have to fish for them. I have hooked and lost 6 permit in the past 3 years but as luck would have it, I hooked lucky #7 yesterday. I fought this fish carefully, fearing that the fly may come out, knot may slip, or line may break with every tail beat. It was one of the most nerve wrecking moments of my life. Minutes later, the fish was boat side and Tim grabbed it’s tail handle with grip of the jaws of life, and we have my first permit on fly in the boat.
There is no way in the world I could begin to explain the excitement and feeling of accomplishment felt. This is euphoric bliss…
Back on the water the next day… I joined my buddies Paul and Capt. Carl Ball out on the water the next day to share with them the incredible redfishing that Flamingo has to offer. I recently introduced a new fly pattern I developed known as the “Flash Bang” into my fly arsenal and it as proven to be the deadliest redfish fly I have ever used in the Everglades. The results speak for themselves.
So until next time…