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.

Sep 14

Fishing with Martin

I got to fish with Martin Carranza last year in Biscayne Bay and I enjoyed it very much. We fished in the pouring rain, but still enjoyed the time on the water.

Here is another angler enjoying their time with Martin just as much.

Jul 13

Day saver

Adrienne Comeau and I met (literally, for the first time) at the airport and then we drove straight to the water. There we met Martin, who was waiting to show us his home water, Biscayne Bay. We strung up in the parking lot and then got on the boat. Shortly thereafter we broke Martin’s trolling motor, and I have to say, I’m amazed at how well Martin took it. Adrienne and I didn’t break it so much as it was broken, but I might not have been as well composed as Martin was.

We headed out.

I was really taken by how close this was to Miami, which we caught glimpses of. What a resource to have right there, so close to such an urban center. From listening to most of Carl Hiaasen’s books on my work commute I even recognized most of the names Martin mentioned as we sped out in search of bonefish.

Adrienne, in the rain.

Adrienne, in the rain.

We arrived at the desired flat and then had a nice, long shower. Basically, it rained. Hard. Adrienne was up on deck first and she actually did get at least one cast in at a Biscayne bonefish, but the shots were hard to come by in the darkness.

After a while I got up on deck, but the weather was bad and the shots were all used up.

There was a Day Saver though. That Day Saver was called Barracuda.

That is me... happy.

That is me… happy.

We caught a few and saw a lot and I was happy with that. I know you don’t go out and just stick a few Biscayne bones on demand. You need things to fall into place. You don’t need everything to break your way, but you need a majority. We were not there on that day and I was pretty pleased to end up with a nice cuda.

Barracuda are fun. They fight hard. They are super aggressive. They have “nasty, big, pointy teeth.” That sounds pretty good to me.

We visited Biscayne Bay. We got soaked. We enjoyed Martin’s love for his home water. We spanked a few Barracuda.

Martin, on the platform, showing us a place he loves.

Martin, on the platform, showing us a place he loves.

All in all… a lovey day.

Jun 13

Fishing with Martin

The first day we fished in Florida Adrienne and I were out with Martin Carranza out on the waters of Biscayne Bay.

It looked like this…

That dark stuff eventually came to visit us.

That dark stuff eventually came to visit us.

Today I got a picture of what fishing there might be like when the lights are on.

Yeah... Nice.

Yeah… Nice.

I’d like another shot at it!


Jun 13

Florida’s memorable moments

I wanted to share a few memorable moments from the FL trip. Every trip has those little nuggets and they are what sticks with us.

  • The moment, fishing with Martin Carranza (website, blog) and Adrienne in Biscayne Bay that the cuda I had on the line came up to the surface and flared it’s gills like a tarpon. So awesome.
  • Being on Derek Rust’s (Captderekrust@gmail.com) boat with Davin, telling stories and hearing about Derek’s guiding experiences, and blowing some shots at big tarpon.
Derek and Davin, rocking the Skinny Water Culture

Derek and Davin, rocking the Skinny Water Culture

  • Hearing my rod tip buzz while wading a flat with Matt. Asking Matt if he was buzzing and him confirming it. (Next time, I’m going to GTFO of there instead of staying around, looking for fish)
  • Seeing my first meatball of tarpon raging down a flat while fishing with Bill Horn and Adrienne. Man… so. many. fish.
  • Listening to Eric Estrada talk about his permit paintings.

It was a good trip.


May 13

Thinking about big, big bonefish

In a few weeks I’m going to arrive early into Ft. Lauderdale airport, I’m going to meet Adrienne Comeau for the first time and we are going to pick up a rental car and drive to Miami to meet Martin Carranza. From there we are going to head out on the waters of Biscayne Bay.

I’m already a little bit puckered, it has to be said.

Biscayne Bay is the land of giants. The bones there, as I understand it, are on the large side of above average and if I’m ever to catch a 10 pound fish, this day represents one of my best shots.

I’ve cast at 10 pound fish a few times. I’ve cast at a few in Hawaii, with no luck. I’ve sent casts downrange a couple of times at big fish in Grand Bahama. I cast at one in Cuba that our guide thought was a shark at first. I’ve put nothing on the board when it comes to double digit fish. If this comes as a surprise to you, I’d just remind you, I’m no expert.

I’m hoping I won’t crack under pressure if we see a really big bone. I’m hoping if Adrienne is on the bow when we see a monster I restrain myself from pushing her into the water and I don’t resent her too much if she catches the damn thing.

I’m hoping I can make the cast and that the big piece of meat on the other end (1/0 bonefish fly?) doesn’t spook the fish.

Dear god I better not trout set if I’m lucky enough to get an eat. How bad would that suck to travel a couple thousand miles, find the fish, make the cast, make the presentation, get the grab and the trout set?!

I hope, if that happens, I learn to forgive myself.

Don’t trout set. Don’t trout set. Don’t trout set.

Me, casting in vain for big bones in HI.

Me, casting in vain for big bones in HI.