Fishing with Brian Helms
Last week I had a chance to fish with Brian Helms. Brian is a good friend, and I’d like to fish with him more, though the chances we have to get out are fewer than I’d like. Between the fishing I do in order to prepare for tournaments and his own with his clients, it’s tough to get the days we’d like on the water. However, at least once a year we get a chance to spend a day on the water and when we do it’s a ball.
This time a random November day we had on the books turned out to be spectacular as far as the weather was concerned, and while we could have done a number of different things we thought it would be fun to look for bonefish in places they used to attend in greater numbers and sizes than they do today. It was a strange thing to do when we could have looked for permit in the lower Keys, or tarpon in the Everglades, but it scratched an itch for both of us of finding something new to focus on. We looked on the oceanside for a while before heading out back to places that haven’t held giant bonefish in a while, but stayed hopeful and took our time in search of them.
What made the fishing hard was also what kept it interesting–the lack of wind kept us from approaching the few fish we saw, but any fish around showed clearly as a trembling surface crease. We found a very small number of difficult shots at fish that seemed to know we were there, and even wading at them didn’t make things any better. The one time we got a fly in front of a bonefish the grass grabbed hold of the fly and kept things from working out, though I can attribute this to my fear of weed guards. We found some smaller tarpon and a few barracuda, and let them swim by, staying on message with the bonefish we hoped to find. We never did catch one, though by the end of the day had seen a handful and had a close call.
In a lot of ways a day like this might be considered out of character, but I have been a fly nerd from ever since and I was happy to look for fish in places they used to be and find a few. After all, if you don’t go you don’t know. I’d like to thank Brian for sticking with a weird plan, and I wish I could have made good on the one close call we had to get a picture to show here, but it wasn’t in the cards. Here’s hoping next time we can get it done.
I’m heading to the Everglades with Steve and Kat tomorrow, in search of a snook on 4# tippet.
More to come,