The last two days I fished with Captain Doug Kilpatrick. On the first day we fished alone with the 6, and on the second we were joined by Dave Dalu. If you read these reports, you’re familiar with Dave’s skills and I need not bring them up. If you’re not, suffice to say that he’s an incredibly well cultivated talent with the fly rod.
Doug and I began at 9 AM, and while the conditions looked well suited for permit we elected to bring the light line and assault the six. We found the fish in our second spot, and had a number of shots before feeding a small fish that did not remain connected. The fish were low and unhappy; often, we didn’t see them until they were too close to give us a shot.
Our second spot yielded nothing, and our third was once again populated with a few fish that displayed above average toughness. Fitz Coker, fishing with John O’Hearn, stopped by to say hello, and while we were chatting John spotted three fish off the bow. I grabbed the rod and made a cast, but the pressure of the audience (seriously, with Doug Kilpatrick, John O’Hearn, and Fitz Coker looking on? Now that’s pressure…) I was unable to get it done. In short order Doug and I were still chasing some shapes around and Fitz and John left us to our afternoon. We found fewer fish after they left, and towards the end of the day moved on the a last spot. Again Doug found a nest of fish, and once again I fed one. Once again the hook came out on the hookset (if you could even call it that on 6) and we went home.
We were joined by Dave Dalu, and our plan was to look for permit in the morning and then make a move towards tarpon in the latter part of the day. We couldn’t have a look for permit, however, without first picking apart a tarpon edge, and after finding none we left for the permit grounds. Dave was up, and we did not see a permit. We did, however, find a nice little patch of bonefish that bounced off the boat before we could present the fly, and Dave caught a nice jack. After politely unhooking the jack and letting it swim away unharmed, we decided that it was high time for tarpon and headed back to find them.
I was up first, and after a half dozen shots without hooking one I ceded the bow to Dave. In typical form, Dave had two shots before coming tight to a nice fish–within 20 miutes, the fish was next to the boat ready to be released. I took the honors, and Doug snapped these photos of the fish:
I hopped on the bow once again, and while I had a few shots the fish had moved on. We did the same, and went in search of fishier pastures. We found them in another area but the wind prevented a good cast with the 8 weight I use when fishing 6. Another spot and another few shots, and I hooked a small tarpon that looked more like a ladyfish. I had a good shot at a permit with my tarpon fly and we thought briefly he had eaten the fly until we saw that it was a small jack that had instead stolen it.
As the day was winding down, we left for where we finished yesterday. Given the Lower Keys Guides Association party and general membership meeting that was planned for the evening I retired the 6 and grabbed Dave’s rod rigged with 16#. One shot was all it took, and I must say that it was a pleasure to catch a tarpon with the heavy line:
Dave had a shot at a few fish while I was fighting mine, but soon we stowed the other rod to land the fish. Dave spent the last 20 minutes on the bow without a shot, though I seriously doubt that any tarpon we saw would have been safe. We left: three tarpon hooked, two landed, and as always a pleasure to watch Dave school the young guy on how it’s done best.
Thanks as always to Doug for the great guiding, and to Dave for tagging along and putting on a clinic like only he can.
Tuesday I’m fishing with Simon Becker, most likely for permit.