Del Brown Report, PART ONE: Prefish (2 days, much bonefish, a broken rod)

Del Brown Report, PART ONE: Prefish (2 days, much bonefish, a broken rod)

As many of you know, last week was the Del Brown permit tournament. I was fishing it with Aaron Snell, and the following is an account of our prefish days (13 and 14 July).

We left the dock for an early start, looking to fish the same tides that would be on during tournament hours. We fished far and wide, and while we had a decent shot at a single fish and saw a few more we were unable to find a group of permit that would make us happy for the tournament. On a few grassy edges we saw a few fish, but we were beginning to understand (and feel the pain of) what would become our nemesis for the next four days: incessant cloud cover that refused to let us see the fish before they saw us. We ended at 4:30, after finding a few fish on a table-top that provided a few shots to make us feel just good enough to be interested in continuing.
With this we called it a wash, getting home early and hoping for a better day tomorrow.

We started early once again, and while the cloud cover remained we were able to maintain some optimism. We fished in and around the same places we did the day before, still plagued by glare and continually clawed at by a growing sense that this was going to be another difficult permit tournament.
Towards the middle of the afternoon, Aaron had us on the edge of a deep channel that held a few rolling tarpon on the last quarter of a tide. I grabbed the 10 weight rod, put some 20# and a shock tippet on, and decided to make some hay. As it turns out, it wasn’t that hard: after 20 minutes of positioning and 5 of lying in wait, I threw a fly ahead of a large tarpon and he picked a fight:

The fish was large (100 lbs est.), and while we had the proper tippet for a big pon we lacked the rest of the setup: instead of an 11 weight rod I had a 10, and instead of a large tarpon reel I had a scaled-down version for permit. This meant that I was able to pull harder on the fish than my tackle would allow, and after 45 minutes the rod finally broke as I floated the fish next to the boat. I fought it for another five minutes from the reel and the cork, and when I grabbed the top 90% of the rod to clear it away from the fish’s jaw the fly came out.
After this we had lunch, which turned out to be a good call: as soon as we finished eating, a school of bonefish pushed by the boat. While we weren’t able to get one that time (due mostly to a sandwich that had not yet been consumed) we got one out of the next school and took a picture:

Another school and another bonefish, this one also captured, followed:

This continued for a good hour and a half. Aaron even got out of the boat and caught one himself while I looked on from the boat that I had deftly maneuvered onto the flat. In all we captured five bonefish, a welcome change from the painful pace of permit fishing that showed no sign of improving.
We finished the day looking for the third (and by far most difficult) part of the trifecta: a permit, that eluded us. We finished after I threw into a channel at what I thought was a number of permit that turned out to be yellow jacks, one of which volunteered for a game of tug-of-war and a photo to finish out the day. A slam it was not, but we were energized by our day on the water and looked forward to the first day of the Del.
Here’s the yellowjack, in all its glory:

Onwards to PART TWO, which I will most likely upload tomorrow.


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Nathaniel Linville

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