Mother Nature has had her way with the winds this spring. Late
season "cool" fronts continue to pass through the Sunshine
State. Father Time is gaining the upper hand as each day passes towards
the second semester of spring and the frequency of the unseasonable
If there is a problem with the weather, someone
needs to tell the fish! Again in 2009 the redfish were off the hook.
Double digit catches were virtually the norm the past six weeks. The
immediate area where I had experienced similar fishing in 2008 was near
void of fish in 2009. That worked well to the fish’s benefit by saving
their lives because people could not find them in their "normal"
haunts from years past. It
also saved my livelihood as I was forced to look in new places away from
the crowds of following boats. Keeping
historical "catching" spots away from the scuttle bucket is
not always easy, but it appears for the spring of 2009, I got by.
Gator trout started to
make the bag in early April when I saw several spots holding big trout
in very clear and shallow water. I struggled trying to catch more than a
handful here and there until they started to mix in with the reds. I am
not sure they were any less spooky when they joined the reds, but with
the shear hours I was spending on a single drop of the anchor the fish
became vulnerable. They
seemed to come to me as opposed to me hunting them down.
I did not spend much time with the snook this early
spring. With the state of the economy the way it is and the adverse
winds, fishing pressure this spring has been manageable.
If I had a strong south wind, I would visit the old haunts that
are now over-pressured. With an approaching front, I imported live
sardines deep into the backcountry and had several days of uninterrupted
successful snook fishing. The fish were aggressive and fought with that
early spring "pi** and vinegar".
Many fish were lost and a lot of tackle was broken. Yet, we
somehow managed to land several on each attempt and that made life long
memories for a few people fortunate enough to have experienced it.
For me the experience stimulated me to reflect back
a couple of decades in time when I started all of this. There were no
boats in sight and we fished without fear of being spotted. The snook
responded with a fury as opposed to sitting motionless with apparent
lockjaw as if they were being held captive in an aquarium for each
passing "angler". Hundreds of favorite faces flashed through
my mind as I experienced total recall on times gone by with these
special people with snook serving as the catalyst for each one. I
wondered what happened to many of these people and that led me to wonder
what happened to the snook. I then had my answer. I settled in with
acceptance as that was then and this is now.
Each year sport fish
aficionados make a pilgrimage to my backyard. They come to pay homage
and to test their mettle in satisfying their quest for big game with
little water. They hail from all corners of the globe and all walks of
life. For some it is their annual calling, for others it may be their
last request in life. Some will stand for hours with a long rod in hand
simply for the chance to cast some feathers neatly wrapped around a hook
at a dark silhouette against fine sugar sand and emerald clear water.
Others crave instant gratification and will not stop short of the
kitchen sink to get that one particular fish, though that fish -- tarpon
-- does not live on man's time or terms.
As it has for over 125 years,
social classes will form as many will assert ownership or plot a coupd'
etat over a wild animal that cannot be claimed. Herbert Hoover once
said, “Fishing is a lesson in democracy, for all men are created equal
Reflecting back over two decades of professional
fishing, I’ve definitely had my share of all that this special animal
brings. Perhaps it is a personal epiphany; a spiritual awakening or
perhaps it is more like an aged fine wine.
Regardless of how I choose to describe it, today I savor not the
moment of catching but the time spent with the unique people with whom I
hunt the animal. World records, tournament championships and national
media have faded into the past. What remains awkwardly in my own
reflection are the faces I see and the adrenaline I hear in the voices
that are between a launching tarpon and me. This is my calling. This is
It looks to be a good year. There are fish holding
in many areas and have been over the past few weeks. As it is most years
in early spring, the wind is the dominant variable limiting being able
to get to them and to see them. In classic Yogi Berra-ism "when you
come to a fork in the road, take it".
and Tired Arms!