I like Florida… but Florida is in trouble. Captains for Clean Water is trying to help.
Friends hit the Glades in this video of sweetness from Skinny Water Culture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Redington has been doing a series called “Find Your Water.” I’ve seen it come through my in-box, but I figured it would be mostly freshwater stuff. Well, that proves not to be the case. The latest episode (it’s short, watch it) takes place in the Everglades with Alex Tejeda and his Kayak. Cool stuff.
Well done, man… well done. This is just beautiful and so well put together. Check it out.
Dan Decibel hits the Everglades and the kids have fun.
Seriously… don’t they look like they are having a good time?
First, as we were running from one of the many point As to Bs Derek spotted a pod of dolphins. We spotted at least three pods that day. This pod we approached in the boat and the dolphins turned and started following us, playing in the wake of the skiff. They jumped out of the water, gracefully slipping back below. They raced alongside the boat and seemed to play. I mean, you just don’t see that stuff unless you are out there.
Another cool thing to see was the Everglades. I was last in the glades when I was about 10. Thirty years later and here I am again, in the back country, looking for fish. It was so peaceful out there. Some of the flats had turtle grass so thick and lush it could have been a 70’s shag carpet of green. Really cool to see that environment out there. I want to go back.
Yeah… it isn’t good. This whole Federal Government Shutdown thing has real impacts or real people. Among those being hurt are Upper Keys guides who make a living off bringing folks into the Everglades to hunt for reds and tarpon. Federal parks are closed due to the shutdown and that includes the Everglades and a host of other places around the country, just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week and haven’t heard the news.
Turns out you can’t shut down the Federal Government and just keep the parts you like.
I’m hoping we can, collectively, shut down the grandstanding and get back to being a functional democracy again. Here’s to hoping.
It seems the one constant when it comes to watery ecology is this… things appear to be heading toward utter and total destruction. The AP story below says that Florida Bay’s ecology is headed toward collapse with the cascade of damage and ruin already a good number of domino’s down the path. The culprits are pollution, diverted flows, urban sprawl… really this could be just about any water issue around the country. The more things change, the more they stay the same, they say.
ISLAMORADA, Fla. — Boat captain Tad Burke looks out over Florida Bay and sees an ecosystem that’s dying as politicians, land owners and environmentalists bicker.
He’s been plying these waters for nearly 25 years, and has seen the declines in shrimp and lobster that use the bay as a nursery, and less of the coveted species like bonefish that draw recreational sportsmen from around the world.
“Bonefish used to be very prevalent, and now we don’t see a tenth of the amount that we used to find in the bay, and even around the Keys because the habitat no longer supports the population,” says Burke, head of the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association.
Doesn’t that sound good?? No? Yeah, to me either.
Everglades Foundation, one of the orgs trying to get things sorted (and it looks like they are having some success).