Low and behold, I’m spending my winter/spring transition in the salt. Captain James “Grand Poobah” Snyder (a.k.a. Commander-In-Chief, Primal Fly South), is my host. Before we begin I’ll note for the record that the ambiance down here is first-class through and through (or maybe GP and his sidekick Sissy “The Brains AND the Beauty” Sessanna are just happy I do my own dishes). Either way, it’s nothing but a steaming pile of tasty Sunshine State goodness. And the weather ain’t too shabby either.
The first week was filled with nothing but work, and despite a holiday shortened week Friday was welcomed with open arms. Then this morning we embarked on a critical first mission: find out if all the fish in Tampa Bay were killed by last month’s cold snap. We are now happy to report they were not. While we didn’t spot any “spots” all day, we did have a couple hour period around the tide change where we chalked up some serious sea trout counts. Adding to the fun – the boats around us weren’t even snagging debris, and at least one of our crew (cough cough) was throwing flies to boot.
Yes, the previously mentioned devout fly tosser is yours truly. Even sadder than it seems, Captain Snyder (a.a.k.a. Trout Lichtenstein) has gone from slaying the freshwater derivative of Salmo trutta morpha trutta with a fine 4-weight and size 20 Jujubaetis to slinging jig-headed plastic with something called a “spinning rod.” I watched this wretched device in action with my own two eyes – while it can be used to catch fish I find the methodology uncivilized…actually borderline criminal. The fish I caught were generally smaller, and I did mar up Captain “Should I Stop For Some Live Shrimp Before We Hit The Ramp” Snyder’s boat deck with my dry-rotted wading booties. Nevertheless, my heart remains pure.
Tune in next week, where we debate whether the stuff Captain James “My Boat Is Pink…How Bout That Bitches” Snyder coats on his plastics before each and every cast is called Lunker Lotion, Bottled Bait Breath, or just plain ol’ cheating.
MG signing off (to keep casting flies, like a good boy should)
This morning I got a phone call from an old friend. He’d just stepped off a ship in Miami after spending the holidays in Belize. He noted he’d only hit the flats one morning, and only caught eight bonefish. Right about the time I started crying a river for this poor soul, he inquired as to where he might fish while in South Florida, with a notion to head for the Keys. With a nasty cold front right on top, I suggested he wait it out a day or two to see if things warm up, and at best make a run into Biscayne Bay for the spooks lurking in the channels.
Ok. Thanks Gracie. I’ll call you when I get home and tell you how it went.
You do that. Punk.
The pup has been banished to the perma-frosted backyard, as I don’t have the motivation for a walk just yet. I’m sitting at my desk guzzling black joe, and yet more tropical reminders stream in.
I head for the thermostat. Hit the “+” button a few times, and return to my chair. Look down. My feet are covered in…sandals. They’ve sat idle in my closet for at least two months. Why did I put them on this particular morning?
I peer over towards the bookshelf. A cup, now relegated to receipt bin, originally fabricated in the tropics some thirty-odd years ago, catches my eye. It has been within eyeshot for what seems like eternity, and I rarely give it a second thought. Why now I ask myself.
Friendly ghosts of the past? Subconscious yearning? Or signs of times to come?
MG signing off (to ponder that which is “…to be continued”)
During fly fishing travels I’ve always checked my bags. The last couple of times I flew I found TSA inspection tags on or in my multi-rod tube, and in one case my duffle (which contained fly boxes and reels) was completely ransacked. My rods are too much for carry-on (all three-piece), but during this trip I decided to avoid the reel rumble by toting everything else with me.
I knew I wouldn’t have a problem with reels and lines, but with my fly box containing slightly more than #20 Griffith’s Gnats I pinged Pete McDonald (figuring he knows salty travel pretty well) to see if there was any risk of my box getting bounced at the X-ray machine. I got a mixed response (i.e. carrying them is no problem but I check mine regardless), so I decided to take the chance that TSA understood big hooks are dangerous to nothing other than big fish. It turned out to be smooth sailing.
I wasn’t planning on seeing any bonefish or permit, but I left the crystal shrimp, Charlies, and other assorted small goodies in the box, hoping I might find a carp or two in one of the twenty-seven-point-nine million retention ponds located in the southern suburban sprawl. That bet didn’t pay off – it turns out you have to jump through hoops to get even triploid clean-up crews into the Sunshine State – despite tromping around a half-dozen developments I only saw one grassie, and it was tucked under the safest of cover.
No need to worry, fans of the
crappiest luckiest fly fisherman on the Third Rock from the Sun, a blow by blow of my backcountry adventure is coming forthwith.
MG signing off (to pole around a salty creek)
I feel pretty fortunate as this fishing season has cranked up. I’ve simply had a load of fun so far. But spring has not been without it’s minor disappointments. A fishing trip I eagerly anticipated was left high and dry due to an accomplice’s last minute scheduling conflicts, and a second slated to take its place fell victim to the same from a different partner-in-crime.
It’s always darkest before the dawn (side note: the fishing is often full tilt around the same time). And as it turns out, an old and dear friend rang today. One I’d lost touch with quite a while back, and one I’ve spent countless days on the water with. We’re talking old like BMX bicycle transport and dear like full heads of hair dear. And while we did some catching up (no pun intended…really), the conversation quickly turned to something like this…
Hey Grace, I read your blog. Good stuff…see you’re still fishing. Listen, I found this place where the redfish are thick as thieves. Never another boat in sight. I see you’re heavy on the trout…but you can still cast a nine, eh? I can get you inside fifty feet, on huge schools tailing without a care in the world. All day long I tell ya’. Last weekend we knocked off 18 in just a few hours. You interested?
This particular person is, without a doubt, one of the finest anglers I have ever known. We fished together in grade school. I quit the junior high soccer team because he told me the fishing was other-worldly, and I just had to be there. I had no regrets about that move – it was the spring to which all other springs have been compared since. Few have even come close.
The answer was obvious.
In the not too distant future I must disappear. Ticket in hand, to a point sworn secret. Chase a fish that fights like a carp (or visa versa, depending on your own perspective). One I know…tastes better blackened.
MG signing off (to stretch some saltwater tapers)
Even if you’re anti-TV
Sandy Moret’s Florida Keys Outfitters and the IGFA Inshore World Championship giveth, and ESPN giveth some more (emphasis mine):
ESPN Outdoors announced Tuesday that the 2009 Florida Keys Outfitters IGFA Inshore World Championship will be broadcast as part of the second year of the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series on ESPN2 and will be presented on other ESPN Outdoors multimedia platforms, including daily tournament coverage at www.ESPNOutdoors.com.
The goings are gettin’ in the middle of the week (July 7th to 9th), so nobody will have any excuse (i.e. gone fishing) for not checking in – no dummies those ESPN Outdoors folks. And I’m curious – do these tourney players roll with class tippets?
This proposed project will surely benefit all mankind – contact Pete McDonald now!