On Tuesday I fished with Ian Slater for a half day before he had to get to work. Joining us was Michael Hetzel, who has been staying with Kat and myself for the last week. While we had made a brief foray into the dock lights for baby tarpon a few nights ago, this was the first time we were able to get out onto the water in the light of day. The weather has been cooler but not by a snap (which usually shocks back things into rhythm this as far as the barracuda are concerned) but we were hopeful that we would find a few despite the lack of a proper cold front.
Our targets were barracuda and permit, which have been around in decent numbers but tough to find in the wind and clouds we’ve had lately. While every fall brings a hard shift from permit to barracuda it’s often that the two are co-pursued, and this day proved mostly to be a reminder of the complexity of switching between rods and species. The first fish we were looking for was permit, and finding none we switched gears to target barracuda. We found some good looking water that held none, and took some exploratory casts to see what we could dredge up from the glare. After an hour the sun came out and we headed elsewhere, now confident we could see a barracuda if one was to be seen. I thought about throwing a few blind casts to make sure the off color water wasn’t hiding anything, but decided against it and was reprimanded for my lack of effort when we spooked two large barracuda off a nearby white spot in which they had been hiding. We hoped that this pair of fish would be the start of some fish on the flat, but after making a long push and finding nothing we left to try our luck elsewhere. The clouds continued to clear.
We began by barracuda fishing, and when Ian first pointed out a small group of fish swimming our way we intercepted them with a flashy needlfish in their path. One of the fish weaved when it saw the fly, but these fish were not what we thought at first. We watched as three permit took off, fleeing from the flashy interruption. I kept the barracuda rod as we approached some white sand, expecting to see a glaring toothy target somewhere nearby. Instead we saw another group of permit, and with that I handed the barracuda rod to Michael for the change out. With the permit rod in hand we hung around the area, hoping that the school of fish might return. Instead of a permit, the next fish we saw was a large barracuda swimming over the white sand–of course. Had we not made the switch to the crab, the cast would have had a decent chance of producing. As it was, the tiny crab fly had neither the profile nor the altitude required to make things work in our favor. We stuck with the permit rod for the remainder of the day, trying to break the cycle of misalignment.
We saw a large bonefish on our next flat, and after that had a good shot at a permit that we almost didn’t see. We caught some slight movement in a deeper depression, and threw the fly in case it turned out to be something we wanted. It was indeed what we sought, but all we got from this fish was a half-hearted swerve before it skittered away into the heavy wind. We kept our eyes peeled for another hint, but after a few hundred yards more pulled the plug and headed home so Ian could make it to work on time.
It was great to spend a day on the water, and while the conditions were marginal at the time it looks as though they are improving. The wind has subsided into the tolerable range, and the sun appears to be making a more permanent appearance. In other news, Michael went out last night for some dock light tarpon and had what he described as an epic evening of rattling scales.
I don’t have much fishing on the books this month–I’m not fishing in the Sugarloaf Showdown, but last year’s champions Kat and Drew Delashmit are and I will get a report from them to post here. At the end of the month I’m headed back to fish with Steve and Chad, once again looking for the six.
More to come.