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to Right: "Jungle Jim" and Adam Bresovits with a pair
of jumbo reds. Having a 50 redfish afternoon fellas?
In a subsequent trip, "Jungle" went wading (in the same
trademarked trousers as a decade ago) to save Adam's snook that was
wrapped in a dock line.
As in Yogi Berra-ism, "it was daja vu all over again".
Nature has had her way with us the past few weeks. We've had it all.
Fog, rain, chilly and gusty winds form the northern quadrant and even
smoke from a forest fire burning in Georgia have paid us a visit at one
point or another. The most experienced and "best" fishing guides are
only one thing, consistent. In virtually any condition, they make it
work by the day's end. And so we did.
I have always been
a firm believer in "cycles" of fish. Each year there seems to be
one species that stands out in front of every other species. The
cycle of redfish we have seen the past 12 months has brought back
memories of the 80s when large bulls roamed the open flats in
herds. Boat traffic and fishing pressure has put an end to those
days for the most part, despite a great come back of the reds that
were virtually wiped out by commercial harvest 20 years ago. I ran
great distances to find fish that were not being fished. I spent
many days spending extra hours in the wee hours of the morning
trying to stuff my livewell to maximum capacity. I used pounds of
staple scaled sardines to help me find these fish that change
locations from a 100 feet to 2 miles each day. For virtually 12
weeks and on near a daily basis, it was game on. I cannot recall
any year in the past 20 with so many days with bull redfish
catches exceeding 50 fish per day. We'll never completely
understand the "cycles" of fish. Then again, why ask
are the days of our lives.
Young angling extraordinaire, Steven Caines, did not let some inclement
weather stop him from his first several encounters with the silver
The fog was thick, but that did not break
the will of Brandon Balzano. Brandon's Florida fishing pinnacle
came to a head a few days prior when he was fishing off a Pinellas
beach with a shrimp. End result? A 38 inch, 20lb snook. Truly a
catch of lifetime in today's modern era! Nice job Brandon!
That was then and this is now. It has been
122 years since Forest and Stream publicized the first giant
tarpon catch on a rod and reel. The angling world would never be
the same. From that day, the sportsman has become infatuated with
the beast of silver proportions and his desire to test his mettle
against the king.
They come from all walks of life and all
corners of the globe. As they were back then, they are fished from
canoes (now modern sea kayaks) to contemporary Kevlar skiffs that exceed
70K in cost.
Hebert Hoover once said, "All men are
equal before fish". They are fished by cigarette smoking
"blue collar working men" to cigar aficionados waving spaghetti thin
fly rods with a wireless "Bluetooth" giving them live
feeds from Wall Street in their ear. Tarpon have no prejudice, but they are peerless in
Tarpon still serve as catalyst in defining
social groups. They bond families, men, women and children
together for life and beyond. Just as well, they separate them in
some of the most unique levels of jealousy, strife and conflict.
The more things change, the more things stay the same. While
native to the tropical waters of central and South America, when
it comes to fishing them for sport, they are American built.
I will now shift my mindset from the ultra
skinny flats and get in that unorthodox tarpon frame of mind. This
is our calling.
It appears we'll be off to a cool and windy
start. The past two weeks have seemed more like March than late
April. Nonetheless, there have been good showings of fish. Bait is
abundant and the weather has not seemed to move the fish much at
all. Eventually Father Time will gain the upper hand on Mother
Nature. The winds will calm, the air and water will be warm and
silver ballistic missiles will launch surface to air. Welcome to
"Tarpon Country", USA.
Enjoy the images (please continue to scroll
down and my apologizes for a long download for the dial up users).
Screaming Drags and
Bob Greenwald (left) and now a young man, grandson Bobby "Mr.
Jones", with a pair of bull reds. I have been privileged throughout
my career to see young tykes grow to fine young men. Keep at it Bobby!
Above left: Don Thomas
and sons, Wesley (top right) and Brent (bottom left) with tarpon and
reds taken on the Bounty Hunter while fishing a spring break tour of
Florida. Bottom Right: Bruce Insonia was "all jacked
up" with this jumbo crevelle. Bruce was fishing with his nephew
Bill Devito. The duo took many reds and Bill actually had a jumbo
jack strip 160 yards of 14 lb test line that left him (and me!) with
an empty spool. Poor "jack" does not get a lot of respect,
with exception of fish this caliber. Pound for pound, the strongest
fish on Florida's flats.
Long time friend Rich Hansen was back in town
this week. Rich lost two sets of trips last year and a half to a hurricane and a
tropical depression. A significant and atypical cold front blew in for
day one and that kept us at port. It was deja vu all over again! We
grinned and bared it the rest of the week. Despite high pressure, cold
water and blustery winds, we pulled it off. A reinforcing front sent
that day's bag to the week's low. 3 of the 4 days saw 50 redfish
afternoons, trout, snook and tarpon.
Top Left: Rich's fishing partner
"Moto". Top Right: Rich's dad, Bob. Lower Left:
Good times! Good times!
Drags and Tired Arms!
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Past Florida Fishing Report