Thursday, March 28, 2013


The plane touched down in the slowly thawing north today, many of its occupants (including yours truly) returning from what was supposed to be a sunny, suntan oil sloshed, week away from the cold in Florida.  Instead, what we got was a string of cool days with high winds that felt nothing like what we'd hoped for all winter long. 

Day 1 - My wife and kids braved the weather and hit the pool anyway.  I braved the less than ideal forecast and hit the beach in search of Snook, Pompano, Sheepshead, Ladyfish and whatever else the gulf waters would supply.  I fished the beach on day one with nary a bump.  Clousers, Deceivers and the usual suspects were heaved and retrieved with out a second glance. 

Day 2 - I decided to make the 3 mile hike to my favorite jetty.  In the ink black of the wee morning hours, I hiked the beach an couldn't help but notice a bright light near the jetty.  Even from 3 miles away it was quite bright and I couldn't make heads or tails of what it might be...a new warning light on the rocks?  Perhaps a boat anchored off shore? After slogging through the sand for 30 minutes I was stopped by a fence 300 yards short of my fishing destination.  The sign on the fence said "No Trespassing - Work Area".  The bright glow of a million watt worklight lit up the beach.  Workers in bulldozers and dump trucks worked in the glow laying what appeared to be a pipe of considerable length and girth...a water main for one of the major hotels perhaps?

In the early dawn I spied a kindred soul casting his spinning gear off of the jetty rocks, deep inside of the forbidden area.  So, I acted like I owned the place, jumped two fences and joined him.

A local, it turned out to be.  He said he was looking for pompano and had a hunch they'd be here.  I asked for his approval on sharing the rocks and he granted it.  He drilled a jack, and I hooked a snook.  He landed a mackerel aand I beached a sheepshead.  He broke off on another mackerel and I landed another snook...and away the morning went.  Bent rods and backhoes.  He finally landed a pompano and decided to peel out and I stayed on until I got weary of the frayed leaders from mackerel.  I never did touch a pompano. 

Feeling good I hiked the miles back to the condo and settled in to a little beach time where I watched a guy wrangle a 50 lb lemon shark.  Not bad for day 2. 

Day 3 -  Broke cold and crappy.  A little shelling with the family in the morning followed by an angling excursion that resulted in a single bump (from what was surely a snook) from behind some old bridge pilings on one of the passes that surround the island.  The wind made beach fishing impossible and that was the end of day 3.

I don't even want to talk about day 4...cold with 30 knot winds.

Day 5...see notes on day 4.

Day 6 - Damn the torpedoes, wind or no wind, frozen guides be damned, my wife drove me down to the Jetty beach access early in the morning and I said, "Don't head back to the condo for a few minutes.  I will know shortly if this is going to work out".  Thinking that my years of fishing this pile of rocks has taught me a thing or two, I figured I'd take the beach access trail, pop out on the beach, take one look and call and tell her thumbs up or thumbs down.  I hit the beach took a look and couldn't quite get a read on the waves.  I decided to walk out and take a closer look.  I had just jumped my first fence when a pick-up truck pulled up and said that he was sorry but if I continued he was going to have to call the police.  I told him I was just going out to fish the jetty as I had done a few mornings earlier.  He said he understood but explained that his boss was on the work site this morning and he was a "real asshole".  I asked him if he called the law on me if the police would really show up...He said they would. 

I called my wife for the early pick-up.

Back at the condo I schemed with my father-in-law about fishing the canals along the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades for snook and juvenile tarpon.   With only this day left to make hay, he agreed and we hit the road.  The first stop offered up a few manatee but no fish.  We continued further along the trail where the canal follows the road and pulled over at the next bridge crossing.  Casting we saw nothing and didn't get a touch.  We crossed the road to the other side of the bridge and stood on the small sliver of land that separated the canal from the guard rail...also known as "the shoulder".  Timing my backcast between hurried vacation traffic, semi-trucks and motorcyclists fresh from their tour of the keys, I pasted my fly against the far bank and got jacked by a snook.  Victory!
The canal, as it turns out, is lousy with fish.  Mullet swim back and forth in the tannin stained water and alligator gar lay motionless in the slight current.  Bait erupts in the mangroves followed by the tell-tale "clack" of a snook taking its lunch and I time my cast between the ebb and flow of traffic to launch the fly to the dissipating rings.  Snook on.  To be fair, I landed small snook...a pile of them, but small.  I saw and had follows from decent snook in the 25" range but they wanted a fly stripped fast and by the time they took interest my retrieve was over and the fly was at the near bank.  On a cast, shortly before calling it a day, a managed a 45 degree presentation down the canal and around a mangrove.  Stripping the fly back I thought I could make out a shadow following.  As the fly crept closer to me, the shadow took form and the brood shoulders of a truly magnificent snook materialized out of the dark never took a bite and when it got too close it kicked up some silt and it was gone.

And so was I.

Beach Snook


Other Fishers 1

Other Fishers 2

Other Fishers 3

Evening Surf

Alligator Gar

The canals along the Tamiami Trail

Snook water

Little canal snook

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Cold rain and drizzle falling on frozen ground runs downhill fast, taking with it what it can.

I ducked out of my domestic bliss and hit the closest body of trout water to my house. It's a short, tiny spring creek with deep outside bends and shallow inside corners.  The problem, unlike many of our spring creeks in this part of the world, is that by "outside bends" and "inside corners" I'm talking about unreadable currents that scour the stream bottom, not a geographical meandering that describes any other "normal" stream.  To sum it up, it appears that somebody, at some time, dredged this spring creek in a straight shot along a section line...the ugly and accurate name for such a move = digging a ditch.  The reason for my explaining all of this?...there is no way, short of memorization or high sun, to tell which bank is deep and which bank is shallow.  To further complicate things the width of the creek is about 8' across which means that casting to the deep bank can mean trying to hit a 12" target and then trying to work the fly through the deep, narrow ribbon of water.  Impossible on most days and utterly self-abuse with high water pushing twigs, leaves and fall's deciduous stew downstream today.  I had a decent brown trout shark my bunny leech on one of the real corners (and missed) and then I spent the next 90 minutes cleaning crap off of my leader and fly.  The cold rain kept falling and the dark gray sky just kept getting darker.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The young guys and Ink

At the recent Fly Fishing Film Tour (Fly fishing's winter gala celebration and top notch ointment for the shack nasties) I ran across an acquaintance of mine at the post show "social".  We'll call him "Jake".  Jake is full on fly fishing sick with a side order of jug band.  He reminds me a little of my former self (less the jug band) back when fishing 3 days a week was considered "fishing part-time".  Two things worth mentioning and the purpose for my post.
1. Jake was probably one of the 10 youngest guys (not counting 10 year olds with their dads) at the event...a gathering which, from a distance, probably looked like a talent screening for a Poligrip commercial.   Fly fishing is looking old, withered and gray.  Excellent for the old guys, as it gives them something to do and keeps them dreaming and active.  Bad for the sport and the manufacturers of fly fishing equipment.  It's astonishing that Farmville or Call of Duty grabs and holds the attention of our youth more than say, a double haul and fresh air.  Good on ya Jake for being one of the (few) younger guys.
2. You cannot be an on-the-fence, wannabe dabbler in the dark arts of fly fishing.  You either are...or you are not.  If you are's no problem.  If you ever decide that you are "all in", might I suggest a 1/2 sleeve of Hex like Jake's.    (He's all in.)

Well played Jake and thanks for sharing the water and the art.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

WI early trout season

Another trout season is upon us.  I skipped the Saturday opener and opted to make a break for it on Sunday.  I tied flies Saturday night until 1 am.  It seemed like a fitting thing to do despite the piles of overflowing boxes that are stacked like cord-wood in my basement.  I was trying to determine whether I was going to micro-nymph with my 4 wt or bring something heavier and blow the dust off the winter by hucking big uglies to dark banks.  As it worked out, I brought a 4 and a 5 and ended up hucking with the 5.  The sun was high and the water was relatively low an clear.  My guides iced up every 5th or 6th cast but I was sweating after a brisk walk in coupled with a little over dressing.  I spent the day gloveless and slightly on the hot side of comfortable.  With the snow on the banks it was obvious that I was the first guy through this season.  Aside from goose, mice and a few other critter tracks...the beat was mine.
And, the fish were there.  I got a number of short grabs, spooked a few and blew a pig after a few heavy and serious head shakes.  All in all it was exactly what it was supposed to be.  The start of another season.

The latest BONK T