i've been fortunate to do quite a bit of fishing lately. the following took place between mid-may and yesterday.
i can't think of an analogy for tarpon fishing. you usually get three shots and then it's your buddy's turn. an hour can go by before you get one shot sometimes. and more often than not, the shot's over in five seconds. sometimes you get two casts at a fish or a pod, but it's definitely the first one that is your best chance at hooking a fish. if you're unsuccesful, you are then faced with one to sixty minutes before your next shot to think about what you did wrong, or why the fish simply didn't eat the fly. you feel like you've failed an exam that counted for three quarters of your grade or if you got rejected on a date from your crush. but as soon as you get your eyes on the next fish approaching, all that just happened is forgotten. i am not good at tarpon fishing. i wonder if i should be more pissed off at all the shots i missed. i mean, it's not everyday i get to go tarpon fishing. it takes time and money to get there and more time and money to get a guide to get on the water. if you really wanted to, you could put a dollar amount to each shot, each cast. i don't know what good that would do, but i guess you could do it. so maybe i should be more upset i didn't hook more tarpon this season. but what would good would that do?
also known as 'home'. while washington's feeling more and more like home, i think maine will always be home. i get excited when the plane touches down in any place, but it's tough to beat touching down at portland international. it's literally 10 minutes away from friends and fun. tough to beat that. portland's still awesome. everyone that lives there still is too. camp is north of there though. and what a camp it is. a six year work in progress, this place is amazing. parts of it are 100% done, while others are 10%. i want to show all my friends this place. oh, and there's a trout pond 100 yards away. and man, did it go off that night. it had been quite a while since i found myself on a pond with native brookies gulping hatching bugs. there were five of us across three boats that evening and wouldn't you know it, the only two fellars who had rods bent all night were the old man and me! ha!
what a place colorado is. mountains, trees, cold streams, a ton of hungry trout and sun. tough to beat i reckon. the fishing in colorado was really good. how this will effect late-, and even mid-season fishing is to be determined, but it was pretty damn good a couple weeks ago. ranch life is pretty much the same. which means, awesome. really good to see the guys at the 4UR. and the girls too. i'm really glad that i got to get back to the ranch. it's been a really big part of my life the last few years and i'm thankful to have the opportunity to visit. i tied on one nymph rig in a full day's fishing. it promptly hooked what was most likely the largest fish in the entire creek. i landed the largest rainbow in my life in my last evening. thanks goose creek. see ya in a bit.
also, also known as 'home'. it's been 10 months now. the more i see, the more i like. had a ball last winter on the peninsula, and now it's time to get dialed in on the cuttys in the sound. here's what i've figured out so far: if you find them, you catch them. if you don't find them, you maybe get one, usually none. so that's fine - i just gotta find 'em. found a couple yesterday though, which was nice. got lucky to be a guest on a friend's beach on the west side of hood canal. sea run cutthroat trout are fantastic fish. they crush flies, fight like the dickens and shoot back like bullets into the water when you let them go. and they sure are pretty too. i caught three fish on three different flies yesterday. not sure if i just happened to get my flies in front of three fish, coincidentally after i changed flies, or what was happening exactly.
this is the view from my new deck. it looks into this little ravine where a creek comes from the interior of the island to the sound. it's close enough to the water that a big tide brings the water up pretty high. i've heard rumors of cuttys hanging about in this ravine. it is a goal of mine to catch a fish in this ravine this summer.
After several months of phone call conversations and planning, I was very fortunate to spend the last four days fishing with my good friend and former Head Guide Andy Lee aka Boss of Grassroots Guides, Beneath the Mangroves. Andy recently relocated to Chokoloskee, Florida, where he has been fishing the Everglades backcountry for redfish, snook, and most recently, tarpon. We had quite a trip. Andy runs a 18' Hell's Bay and it's the perfect rig for fishing the backcountry flats, weaving through the creeks and poling across the big bays of the Everglades. We spend the first three days sight fishing to reds and snook. The redfish were a little easier to see: more out in the open, along vegetated flats or among oyster beds. The snook were trickier business, as we poled countless banks trying to spot these fish lying in ambush beneath the mangroves. We had a good number of shots for snook, but they are a wiley fish. Many times we would see one and before we could drop a cast in front of it, the fish had retreated to cover beneath the trees. We would often pole by a fishy looking spot, unable to see a fish only to see the fish bolt from underneath us or the trees to explode as the fish took off. When we did see one and get a good cast in front of it, the fish would either immediately bolt or destroy the fly. We had some great takes and were able to land a few. We also found a good number of redfish. A little easier to see, but often just as fickle, we brought a few of these to the boat as well. Enticing the reds to strike was a little more sensitive as we teased them to strike by pulling flies away and then letting them catch up. A great game to play. At some point during our third second or third day we started seeing some black drum cruising amongst the reds. A fast sinking crab pattern was the trick for these odd looking fellars. We had a slightly nervous moment as we noticed a gator approaching while Paul landed one particular drum. Andy made us second guess ourselves when he joked that gators always travel in pairs, one under the surface. For our last day on the water, we fished for reds in the morning and then decided it was time to try and see some tarpon. We were surprised and instantly excited as we poled down our first bay and a heron spooked one and then we started seeing tails and wakes.
I was first up and had a good shot at a happy fish about a foot under the surface. I made two casts and on the second had an eat, but it didn't stick. We were pumped though as our first good shot resulted in a take. On we went.
Paul took some shots at some fish to no avail and then it was my turn on the bow again. The fish were hard to see given the muddy, murky water of the everglades but we soon found ourselves right upon a very large shadow under the surface. Wind at the moment almost blew us over the fish, but Andy circled us around to where I could take some good shots. My first four casts were no good, but on the last, it looked as though the fish was interested. I was lucky the fish hadn't bolted. I took another cast and this one was on the money, a few inches in front of the fish. Not even six inches into my retrive and the water exploded, the fish coming out of the water to crush the fly, a tan, deer-hair head slider. And then it was on. Into the backing within seconds, leaping in the distance, the line cleared and I remained tight. It was looking good. I had some good shots at tarpon last spring but wasn't able to coax any to eat. We joked later that this fish chose me, allowing for my first nervous casts to pass until I put the fly where he wanted it. The fight lasted about 40 minutes, the last 30 or so within 30 feet of the boat, the hardest part of the whole ordeal. Finally the fish rolled over and with a hand on its lip, the fish boatside, Andy grabbed the leader and it gave. Away the fish went. High fives and laughs filled the boat as we recounted the battle and charted the boat's course as the leviathan towed us around the bay.
It would be our last fish of the day and of the trip, a perfect way to go out. It didn't take long before we started scheming our return. An easy, two and a half hour drive from Miami International Airport, I recommend anyone looking to get into some Everglades tarpon action get in touch with Andy, and hang on for the ride.
The lovely Lee's: I hope to always know them. Thanks for everything guys!
Jokes filled the boat every day. Classic Boss: Jokes, voices, laughs... "OK, guys, get serious, there are tarpon all over here..." - Boss Ten seconds pass... "Hey, what do you guys think Skunk Ape does to catch birds?" - Boss Concentration lost.