Thursday, April 14, 2016


Twelve months. 

That's how long I've waited to be here again.  To stand on the platform, look into these waters and see them:  tarpon.

You will find them in a handful of different types of water and types of ways.  No matter how the shots come, they're all awesome, but the laid-up tarpon is especially exciting.  You'll sometimes stare for hours at a time at brown-green water; you'll stare so long it seems like you've forgotten what to look for, or what they look like.  Then, all of a sudden, there's one.  From afar, they're light-brown-tannish against the murky, backcountry Everglades water.  You inch closer and closer and slowly the shape appears.  Then it's glowing at you.  You can barely make out its head and its tail, but you know which is which.  It's just sitting there. 

It can be a battle just to find one, but when you do, another battle begins; this time with yourself.  Present the fly properly.  Drop it two feet in front of the fish's nose.  Maybe a hair across it too.  Not too hard. 

In a basketball game, when you shoot a foul shot, you have ten seconds.  You do your routine, and shoot.  Mine goes like this:  line up my right foot with the nail, hold the ball in my left hand, look at the front of the rim, and breath.  Two dribbles, then look again at the rim.  Breath twice.  Shoot.

The time from spotting a laid-up fish to making your shot can be a minute or less than ten seconds, but the procedure is somewhat similar in that there's a definite success or failure.  The fish eats (you make the shot), or it doesn't (you miss the shot). 

Two times today I was blessed with the quintessential laid-up tarpon shot.  Two times today I was polled closer and closer while I stared at the glowing fish, just sitting there.  I know where I want the fly to go (the ball to go through the rim), I can see it landing there (the ball hits nothing but net).  I know what I want the fish to do, I've watched them do it before.  Two times today I watched as my cast landed feet away from where I wanted it to.  Two times today I watched as the glowing tarpon disappeared before my eyes, never to be seen again.  Blown shot.  Brick.  Fail.

When you land the fly where you want it, this is what it looks like: