Last week I returned from a three day trip to the Everglades with Chad Huff. Ian Slater accompanied us, in the event that we found ourselves in need of an extra set of hands, and we set out on Monday morning to see what we could find. A cold front of swollen proportion had just been in town, and while it was on its way out when we started we could still see the frozen dent in the couch where the tarpon would otherwise be laying. We decided to snook fish to pass the time on day one, and Chad ran us to a shoreline for a look with a nine weight and a newly-constructed snook fly. Ian was up first, and after catching nothing passed the rod to me. I also obliged with a zero-snook attempt, and at the third spot sat down to tie a leader while Ian hopped up again. It caught us by surprise, just as we were settling in to a cold a fishless pace, when he came tight to a nice fish that put him on the reel. I soon grabbed a 5-pound fish for the team–Ian’s largest personal snook on fly. Chad posed with him for a trophy shot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We kept on throughout the day and fished hard. We named the new fly “Chad’s RTC” which was the product of some humor that was as inappropriate as the fly was effective, and basically had a ball throwing at shore lines in hopes of a larger snook. We finished the day far from home and near sun set before running back in the failing light as usual.

The second day of fishing was warmer, which we all hoped would bring us closer to a tarpon opportunity. We began once again by snook fishing, though paused to take some pictures of the AM fog (which was far more spectral in real life than through an iPhone lens):

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day cleared up as we fished, and we took a hard look for tarpon in a few places briefly before returning to our RTC induced small snook seizure. We tried a different fly that didn’t work, and went back again to the full-flavor of Chad’s new creation. Ian gave it a toss in between small fish and came away once again with a large one, this time a 7-pounder that added two pounds to his personal best:

In the afternoon we drove over a few large tarpon that bulged away slowly in the calm as we passed, and took a half hour to look for any evidence of a dance partner without finding one. We snook fished some more before finishing the day with another look for some tarpon, this time finding them after some shots at very insubordinate snook on a shoreline adjacent to deeper water. The fish we saw were smaller than we needed, but tarpon nonetheless, and we hooked a few on six to grease the groove. I had a hard follow from another large snook as I threw in to the intermittent rolls, and jumped a few tarpon before our light expired. On the way back we made a pact to commit ourselves to tarpon the next and last day, despite the colder temperatures.

In the same way that writing about the long battles we’ve had with tarpon is difficult, writing about the low-probability grind of looking for tarpon in 66 degree water doesn’t come as naturally as I’d like. It’s heavy in places, and lighter in others, so it doesn’t jump off the page where it should and tends to hide the parts that are the most interesting. I can say that it’s a great way to spend a day on the water with good friends, even if you don’t catch anything, which is exactly what we did. We covered water for a half hour where we’d seen the tarpon slide away from us the day prior, and again found the amassment of smaller fish at the end of the day, but neither of these efforts produced what we were looking for. We saw only one fish of sufficient size roll among the smaller ones, and when we were running low on time we took a long run to a place we have found them before in similarly handicapped conditions. We found none, though we did take one more look in an area nearby to finish with a strong try. Nothing showed up, and Chad called it before it got dark but not by much.

I’d like to thank Chad and Ian for a great three days, and I’ll be seeing Chad tomorrow when I drive up to Everglades City to fish with Steve and him again. It’s cold again, so we will try our best and give it all we have. Reports will follow, though as soon as I get back from that trip I will be gone for a few days doing some non fishing related stuff so the blog posts will be slower than usual.

More to come,

 

nathaniel