After the loss of The Giant with Steve, I recuperated for a few days and headed out on Monday and Tuesday with John O’Hearn. Our plan in booking these days originally was to target permit in preparation for the March Merkin. The weather, however, had other plans and we were left to continue the tail-end of barracuda season into this pair of days.
We started near Key West, and while we were hoping to see the occasional permit it became apparent early on in the day that this would be barracuda and barracuda only. We fished through some nearby banks, finding a few fish in the clouds that we could see before they saw us. On blind casts in the glare, we were able to hook two and catch one, a decent 35 inch fish that would certainly have ended up on our scorecard had this been a Cuda Bowl tournament day. In the afternoon our fishing dried up for an hour or two and then we found a large group of fish to shake us up. We couldn’t get a bite (largely due to our not being ready), and another hour and a half ended the same way: a great group of fish that we couldn’t convince to bite when they finally appeared.
Toward the end of the day we caught another, and had another bite to show for our efforts. The fishing petered out and we stuck with it until 5 PM before heading home to prepare for tomorrow.
Kathryn joined us, and while there was much more sun there was also an unseen but deadly addition to the list of challenges: a 25 knot wind that was howling at us from the northwest. After seeing the fish, our challenge became getting the boat into position in the breeze, then making a cast with a large barracuda fly as the wind carried our loops to places far from intended. Despite this, we managed to get two bites from large barracuda that refused to stay hooked. As hard as the fishing was, these bites were of sufficient violence to keep our interest piqued and loops flying despite the wind.
After we changed spots, there was a similar phenomenon to what we had experienced the day before: an hour or two of zero targets followed by a little group that appeared suddenly as we pushed on through the spot. I had a hard follow, and then a great bite from a big one. The running line, however, had been compromised by the wind and knotted into a ball that simply wouldn’t pass through the guides as the fish tore off. On a day when even a single capture would be an accomplishment, losing a nice barracuda is painful in a way that I usually associate with losing a permit in a tournament.
We tried to coax another bite from the few fish that were around, and though we gave it our best effort we were left with no more playmates.
We finished the day with two permit spots–one for Kat and one for me. In neither we found fish, in both we gave it as good an effort as we could before heading home.
That brings the fishing reports to current, but here’s a little more. Kat is out with Dotty Ballantyne and Aaron Snell today, and I got this picture a few hours ago to keep me unhappy to be at work while the wife is fishing:
Most excellent that Aaron found some bonefish to capture in the cold that surrounds us.
More to come–next week, I’ve got Thursday and Friday with John and Sunday and Monday with Doug. Doug and I will be joined by Jesse, a friend from Sage. Reports will follow.