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.

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

Jul 15

Cool Trailer from Estrada

I’d watch this. Check out the trailer.

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.

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.

Jun 15

Keys Tarpon Hunt, Day 4 with Davin

Day four saw Davin and I deciding to camp out in Tav and just wait it out. If you are trying to move around to find a fish that moves around, you stand some chance of missing the fish every time. If you wait, so the thinking went, the fish will have to come to you.

It was a good theory.

The weather was grey, the water was hard to see anything in, the wind was up. In short, not ideal.

This proved to be the closest I would get to my oceanside tarpon. Davin, it turns out, sold his soul (at least a part of his soul at any rate) to gypsies in return for super-human vision. He was calling out fish for me on a day when I couldn’t see a damn thing. He must have seen 100 fish that day, I saw about 8. I was making casts to fish I couldn’t see, but Davin and I were working like a team and we were working well.

Three follows. That was the grand tally for the day.

“Tarpon fishing is a game of incremental victories,” said Davin, and that is certainly true. The fish you see. The fish you cast at. The fish that follow. The fish you get to eat. The fish you jump. The fish you land and release. On a bad day you count it all. On a good day? I’ll let you know when I have one.

At one point we got chased off the water by a wall of watery darkness, managing to run under the protection of Nate’s awning just as the squall hit. We went back out, but the tides had changed the fish stopped moving (or moved further out where not even Davin’s gypsy purchased vision could find them).

Davin got to cast for about 5 minutes and had one shot in that time. He let me stand up there for hours, willing me to connect, but the fishing gods had other plans. Either that or this was the fishing gods’ plan and they are a bunch of jerks.

Davin, taking a shot.

Davin, taking a shot.

Another day, another smack down, but a good day on the water. I felt like at least I was in the game and that was more than I had felt the previous few days. Funny how I could feel mostly content on a day when I didn’t touch a single fish, but I did feel content. I took the small victories and was happy with them.

Jun 15

Truths I don’t want to hear

Not fishing, not catching, most like running from the storm!

Not fishing, not catching, most like running from the storm!

There are these sayings one hears (I’ve heard them come out of my own mouth even) that can really drive you mad.

Maybe it is a tolerance thing and you hit it at a certain point, say, day 3 without a tarpon really even looking at your fly. Maybe it is 4 days. Regardless, there is a point when you you can see it coming, you know someone is going to say one of these things and you want to run up the tracks and flag down the locomotive before it hits the washed out bridge (you, fishless, or rather me, fishless on day 3-4 is the washed out bridge in this case).

Two of the most egregious of these sayings are:

  1. You can only catch fish when you have your line in the water.” Yes… true, but the other side of that is the “There is a fine line between fishing and waving a rod around in the air like an idiot.”
  2. That’s why the call it fishing, not catching.” True… but I’m out there to catch things, not just share their water. I know I’m supposed to enjoy “just being here” and all that, and I do, but I am there because I want to connect with the sliver king, because I want to do some catching.

These are thoughts you have when you mostly don’t catch anything. I had lots of time to think about these things since my hours on the bows of various skiffs was mostly not taken up with casting to or fighting fish.

Sure, I can laugh at it all too, so don’t take anything above too seriously. At the end of the day, I don’t. But a good rant is cathartic.

May 15

Everglades in beautiful video

Well done, man… well done. This is just beautiful and so well put together. Check it out.


May 15

Florida is happening

Davin spanking a baby

Davin spanking a baby

Two years ago I went to fish Florida for the first time. I had a block about fishing Florida for a long time. Florida, I was told, was hard. Like really hard. It wasn’t a place to go if you wanted to catch fish if you couldn’t make a 300 foot cast in a hurricane. Oh, and the guides would yell at you, maybe tell you were were a bit overweight and that no one really liked you..

I wasn’t ready for Florida.

But in 2013 I went anyway. It was tough and wet and I didn’t catch that many fish, but I also realized just how much of the center of the sport Florida really is. If you fly fish for bones or tarpon or permit, you need to come here, to experience it, to test your metal.

I went back last year and I’m going back again this year. I’m going back and most of the crew from 2013 is heading back too. Davin and Matt are going to be there, Eric is coming too, I have a day fishing with Derek and there will even be some new additions.

It feels good to have a trip on the books, but even better when it is a reunion of friends, far flung, geographically dispersed and coming back together.

I’m excited about the Keys, about seeing old friends, making new memories.

Who knows… maybe it will rain every day again and we will get in 2 hour of fishing, but even if that happens, I know I’ll still have a pretty good time.

Mar 15

Tarpon Fishing in the Keys

MidCurrent has a great piece up on helping you have a good Keys tarpon trip. You should read it.

One point the article makes is that the weather is often pretty bad in those most tarpony of times, May and June. On my one previous June tarpon expedition I experienced this firsthand. It rained, hard. There were brief respites, but mostly, it was wet.

I wrote a piece up for that trip. It didn’t get published, as these things usually don’t. One of the criticisms was my insistence that the Sunshine State wasn’t too sunny. I had a line like “It was wet, even for Florida…” that struck a reviewer as nonsensical. Even if it smacks of cognitive dissonance, the Sunshine State IS wet and June is particularly so.



I got that line wrong though… it wasn’t “wet, even for Florida,” it was as wet AS Florida in June. It is the fool who heads for Tarpon in the Keys during the peak migration with nothing but flipflops and sunscreen. Bring a light rain jacket, and your patience and your optimism. The latter two items are sometimes difficult to fit in the same bag.

I’m heading back to Florida this June. I expect to be rained on, hard, because it is the Keys in June. I hope also to get shots at some fish bigger than my 4’8″ 8 year old.

Taking a page out of that MidCurrent article… anyone have suggestions for cheap digs in Marathon around June?