Current Conditions, Last Week with Simon Becker and Marshall Cutchin
I’ve been slacking on these reports slightly, which is nothing surprising during this busy time of year. I’ll catch up to the present with this post and have a fair amount to report after next week. Frankie will be in town fishing with Ted Margo and John O’Hearn, my parents will be fishing with Aaron Snell and John Benvenuto, and Jason Schratwieser will be down to fish with myself and Doug Kilpatrick in the middle of the week.
Usually when I play catch up on these pages I neglect to discuss the current conditions, and I’m making an effort to keep things better in that regard. As you’ll be able to tell by the brief (and wind filled, tough-numbers) reports below, things haven’t been so great recently. The weather this year has been tough, with El Nino sloughing off band after band of cloudy, fishless cold fronts. The effect of that is fishing has been a bit of a grind: while there have been fish out there, it’s never been the open-faced fish sandwich that we all prefer. Today, after some tough weather last week, I’m happy to report that things are looking steeply upwards. We’ve got a week of what appears to be consistent and beautiful weather upcoming, and I can’t wait to get out there.
In former news, last week when I arrived home from the trip with Steve Huff I fished a day with Marshall Cutchin. Marshall and I have been phone and SMS buddies for a while, kicking over thoughts about writing, conservation and fishing. He was down for the week fishing on his boat, and when he asked me to join him I jumped at the chance. Our fishing was steady but uninspiring until the end of the day, when Marshall found an area that was littered with tailing permit. We has two fish fall in behind the fly, twice expecting a bite that never came. We threw at a fair number of schools that were looping across the bank we were on, but despite our best efforts we never got any more interest than the two near misses.
I’d like to thank Marshall for a fine day, and it’s of note that his eyes on the water are as good as I’ve seen. Add to that some good fishing (and great conversation), and I’m happy to report that the day was a great one.
Following the day with Marshall Kathryn and I had three days booked with Simon Becker, and as it shook out I was only able to fish the first day; Kat fished the following two days. The first day with Simon was marred by a steady wind at near 30, though despite this we set out anyway to make what hay we could. Simon isn’t averse to spending some time on the grind, and he put in the work to make sure we could have had a downwind shot if the fish were where they were supposed to be. For most of the morning, we bounced around from spot to spot and hoped to get lucky. The fish never did what we were hoping for, and at midday we left the tarpon in search of some barracuda to have some fun with. These fish too were absent from the difficult weather, and despite some decent sun we couldn’t find them.
In the early afternoon, Simon had us on a lee shoreline adjacent to some deeper water, where tarpon would periodically roll. We staked off the boat and worked the water with as long a cast as we could manage, not coming tight for an hour or so. We blamed it on the weather and the fickle nature of these fish in the wind, though as soon as we changed flies we got two bites on our next cast: one from a large fish, and another from a small one. The latter of these stayed on, and since the day was hard we elected to try to catch the fish proper and pulled the stake to give chase. I was pretty amped up to grab this fish, especially with the upcoming tarpon tournaments, and tried to make short work of it to get a feel for pulling on 16 again. The fish was close to the boat a number of times, and while we almost had it we were also reminded that (in addition to the fact that 16 is strong as rope compared to 6) that almost doesn’t count. The fish broke off next to the boat, and we returned to the bank for another stretch of covering water.
This quickly evolved into a discussion of throwing a backcast into heavy wind, and within a half hour we had removed the reel from the rod to see how that felt. For another hour or so, Simon and I traded shots with a reel-less fly rod, the non-caster sitting on the cooler waiting for all hell to break loose. Sadly, we never got the opportunity to welcome the chaos we were inviting into our afternoon.
We left a little earlier than we would have liked to had the fishing been amazing, and went home to the only thing that could keep the wind away: home and walls.
That’s it for now; I’m all caught up. The weather looks great and I’ll hopefully have lots of pictures and text to share after this week.