05
Oct 16

When the weather tries to kill you

I was just thinking today, out here in the SF Bay Area, that the weather seldom tries to kill you here. Sure, we have earthquakes, but those are sudden and unannounced and it isn’t the weather. Our weather is pretty benign.

Watching Hurricane Matthew proceed to deliberately try to destroy whole countries, and I’m thinking it might just be fine to be so far from bonefish.

Matthew looks as if it might rage through the Bahamas, hit Florida, right around Miami, rake up the East Coast of Florida and then pop out into the Atlantic and then… HEAD SOUTH, back to the Bahamas again to run over Grand Bahama and Abaco not once, not twice, but maybe three times.

https://t.co/HxUIUbWrUV

We don’t have killer weather here.

In the high country we have dry lightning which starts fires which burn areas larger than some countries and there is certainly damage caused and lives are sometimes lost, but very few, and the forests don’t extend into the major cities. The risks are small, overall.

The Bahamas are flat. The highest point is only 206 feet tall, a hill, really, on Cat Island. There’s nothing much to slow down Matthew, nothing to disrupt his winds. They just have to stay there and take it and watch their livelihoods be washed or blown away.

My thoughts are with all those in the Bahamas and in Florida as Matthew tries his darnedest to destroy places we love.


21
Jul 16

Andy Mills in Garden and Gun

I was born in 1974, so I missed the peak of Andy Mills’ skiing career and I tend to think of him as a tarpon angler first.

Monte Burke (a real writer, not a hack like me) wrote up a great piece about Andy in Garden & Gun, which is the weirdest title for a magazine that I actually want to read.

This has me thinking about tarpon, one of the other fish I share some brain space with. Tarpon. Mostly, tarpon have kicked my ass. I’ve landed one adult tarpon and three juveniles. I’ve broken a rod on a lost fish, probably jumped 5, fed 20 and nearly wet myself on several more. My interest in tarpon is in direct contrast to my success in angling for them.

Next May I have a conference in Ft. Lauderdale and I’m going to tack on a few days on the back end to try to add another to the tally. My most haunting failures in angling are pretty much all tarpon related.

I envy Andy Mills his talent and his success. I won’t be Andy Mills. I won’t be Nick Mills. I don’t need a thousand fish to the boat, but I would like to hold one more by the lower jaw and look into that massive saucer-sized eye.

Martin tells me they also come in Men's sizes.

Martin tells me they also come in Men’s sizes.

 


07
May 16

Thinking of Florida

It is tarpon time in the Keys. The migratory ocean-siders are doing their thing, pausing at the bridges and moving with the tides and the hopeful are waiting and searching for them.

It seems I now do this about every two years. A trend that looks like it will continue in 2017. Last year I got the Keys Beat Down and went 5 fishless days before a small act of redemption in the Glades. Somehow, I’m still up for trying again.

Next year it looks like a conference I’ll be attending will be held in Ft. Lauderdale right about this time. That means I’ll be able to wrap up the conference and slide a couple hours south to complete my biennial tarpon hunting.

I have to say… I’m already a bit excited about it, even after the demoralizing smack downs the Keys have dished out. There is just something about being there and seeing those fish sliding through the water, prehistoric, massive, sleek and powerful.

I’ll be planning this trip from now until I get on the deck of whatever skiff I’ll end up on.

Adrienne got the photo. I got the photo of the photo.

The only pic I have of a fish I broke a rod on in 2013.


25
Feb 16

Clip it… Clip it really good… for SCIENCE!

BTT is running a Fin Clip Challenge, sponsored by YETI from March 1st to March 23rd. Collect as many fin clips as you can from South Florida to support YETI’s Bonefish Genetics Program. You get the most and you get the YETI Hopper Cooler with art by Jorge Martinez. Looks pretty dope.

More details about the contest on the BTT blog.

I doubt I’d be much help since I live in California and my only bonefish was caught accidentally and was likely the smallest fly-caught bonefish in Florida in that year.

The bonefish


12
Feb 16

Emerging Disasters

There are two things happening in the world of flats fishing right now that are just major bummers.

First is Florida. Billions of gallons of nutrient rich polluted water are pouring out of Lake Okeechobee and the impact to inland fishing in Florida is likely to be fairly disastrous. The Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River are taking the main brunt of this and their estuaries are going to have a hard time surviving. A sad situation with deep roots.

Next is Belize. Leonardo DiCaprio (DeCrapio??) is getting attention for his environmental actions and not the positive kind. Blackadore Cay, bought by DiCaprio a few years back, is the site he plans to build some real BS eco-resort that disregards local laws and the importance of the area to the people who live there now and make their living from the waters just off the shore of Blackadore.

Now, just because you’ve had to mentally go through those two total BS stories… here’s some eye candy in the form of some pretty bad-ass looking fish.

I kind of always thought Milkfish looked ugly… but I’m changing my mind on that.


10
Aug 15

Connection short movie

Well, this is just cool. I don’t know if a 40 year old sales guy gets a vote on what is cool or not, but I’m calling this cool. It is a short video featuring some Glades fishing and it is why I’d head back to Florida… for that.

I approve… not that anyone is keeping score.


05
Aug 15

Protect Bay Bones!

From BTT. If you fish Florida, please take the survey!

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: Project Bay Bones Survey

Do you fish for bonefish in south Florida? If you do, then we need your help. Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has partnered with researchers at Florida International University to create PROJECT BAY BONES to investigate changes in South Florida waters and how these changes may affect the quality of bonefishing. We need your help to fill in critical knowledge gaps on how bonefishing has changed in south Florida over the years. In the absence of scientific data on the health of bonefish populations, angler knowledge is an invaluable source of information. Thus, public participation is vital to the conservation of bonefish and to ensuring high quality fishing in the future!

You can help us by filling in a 10-15 minute survey and telling us about your fishing experiences. This survey is different than previous surveys on the bonefish fishery because it is tied into a larger study that is examining environmental changes in South Florida over time. Bringing all of these data sets together should help us better understand bonefish.

Click here to take the survey

If the link above does not work, please copy and paste the following URL into your browser: https://fiu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1GplxUPVHqt5xtz

We are looking for bonefish anglers of all levels and years of experience, including fishing guides. Your participation in this study is greatly appreciated and we thank you in advance!

For further information or if you have any questions, please contact fishscience@fiu.edu


11
Jul 15

Cool Trailer from Estrada

I’d watch this. Check out the trailer.


07
Jul 15

2015 Keys Trip – The Recap

Matt and Eric.

Matt and Eric.

Turns out it is just a hard thing to time right. We were there a week that should have been good and it wasn’t. We had some decent weather and some horrible weather, but there have been plenty of weeks with worse weather and better fishing.

The fishing was even. Everyone had crappy fishing. No one was killing it, we were all getting our asses kicked.

When you are looking for migratory fish and you are booking a trip 6 months in advance, it is easy to get it wrong.

I’m told I’m building karma. I’m putting in the time that will appease the fishing gods and reward me, in time, with one of those big migratory ladies.  That’s what I’m hoping. That’s how it works, right?

I stayed at the Sea Ranch Motel in Marathon. It is a place that caters to the angler, most everyone staying there was there to fish. We ate all over the place, since half the crew was staying up in Tavernier. We met frequently in Islamorada and I made sure to get to Robbies to feed the tarpon.

The day with Derek got weathered out, but the back-up with Martin in the Everglades was a good substitution.

I got to do a little night fishing at one of the cuts, once with Matt and Eric in Ty’s boat. Twice I went out on my own. The first night with Matt and Eric we could see big explosions and hear even more as the fish were feeding. We braved one electrical storm and stayed for hours, but couldn’t convince a single fish to eat.

The first night on my own a guy standing on the bridge was looking down at my fly saying that he could see fish moving to the fly, but they wouldn’t eat.

The last night I snagged on a bridge piling. Now, I was fishing straight 80# and I was wondering exactly what was going to break… the 80# or the RIO #12 Tarpon line. I had used the factory loop on the line, connected to the #80 with a perfection loop. The perfection loop is where it broke. So, those factory loops are pretty damn strong.

I learned more, both about the Keys, about Tarpon and about myself. It is easy to have fun when things go well and everyone is in fish, but we managed to still have a pretty decent time with crappy fishing. So, good on us. That said, it would have been really nice for someone to get into some fish, some of the fish we were actually there to fish.

Will I be back next year? Not sure. It was two years since the last trip and that might be more like the re-occurrence rate for this trip. I have to see how things go, how the family goes, what happens in the lives of the other guys. We shall see.


01
Jul 15

Florida and a measure of redemption

Before the Bahamas thing blew up, I was regaling you all with tales of our trip to Florida and how it felt to get absolutely crushed by the fishing. I’ll pick up the story where it left off.

I had gone 5 fishelss days. My best day was three follows. We were in Marathon (and Tav and Islamorada and Big Pine) looking for, and failing to find for the most part, the big ocean-side tarpon. Fishing with Bill Horn the day before I heard that it was possible the run was really over… that they run for about 60 days and we were in 60+ territory.

Beyond the fish not being there, there was the weather. June in the Keys can be beautiful. It isn’t as hot or humid as it will get later and there are certain days that are just clear and calm and wonderful. There are also horrible, horrible days full of grey skies and squalls and roiling seas. Day 5 was pretty rough and that was exactly what day 6 was shaping up to be.

My dad had flown out a couple days before and the plan was to get him on a tarpon, any tarpon. We had lined up Derek Rust and we were looking forward to the trip. Derek told us he would be happy to take us out, but thought it would not go well, that the weather was going to be horrible, the winds very high and it was not going to be the day we were hoping for. It was not the call I wanted to get, but I appreciated Derek telling it like it was and letting us come up with a plan B.

I made several calls and found a plan B at about 9:00 PM. The plan was to head North to meet Martin Carranza and to head into the Everglades to Flamingo.

It was such a good call.

I fished with Martin a couple years ago in Biscayne Bay and enjoyed his company. Martin busted his ass for us, poling us into the wind for hours. He was easy going and quick with a joke. An easy guy to share a skiff with.

It was a different kind of fishing, but I really enjoyed it. Casting under the mangroves and tight to cover was a lot of fun. I threw the fly rod and my dad threw a spinning rod so we could both be fishing. My dad hadn’t done any spin fishing since he picked up a fly rod about 18 years ago, and so it was a bit rough to start off with, but he found his groove by the end of the day and was hitting the banks pretty well.

Martin and my Dad, in the Glades.

Martin and my Dad, in the Glades.

The first fish of the day was a tarpon, a baby, but a tarpon, and acrobatic and handsome and exactly what I needed. It was a tiny bit of redemption. I had come to Florida and I had caught a tarpon, even if in my mind the tarpon was about 10x the size. Later in the day I was casting a gurgler along the mangroves, over the trench found between the mangroves and the grass and a large, adult tarpon came up on the fly. It turned it’s head sideways so it could look at the fly, and then turned off it. I didn’t have a chance to do much, just standing there slack jawed before shouting some expletive. Probably the closest I came to getting an eat from an adult tarpon the whole trip.

Martin tells me they also come in Men's sizes.

Martin tells me they also come in Men’s sizes.

I also caught a few small snook, my first, and a jack, a snapper and a cuda. My dad got a small snook himself and had a few bumps from other fish. We saw some bigger snook, but those guys were thick in their cover and didn’t want to play.

Martin on the platform.

Martin on the platform.

It was a good day. I got to fish with my dad (who has decided he still prefers trout to tarpon and said the next time I book a Florida trip he’ll book a trip for trout somewhere else). I got to see a friend and some of the water he knows. We saw a manatee and on the way out of the park I also saw an alligator.

Ya know… it may not be one of the greatest victories in Florida fly fishing, but it was a victory for me.

Thanks Martin.