The last two days I fished with David Nelson and Captain John O’Hearn.
We began by looking for some early morning rollers, though we didn’t find any. Following that, we left for greener pastures. While our fishing wasn’t great, it was enough to keep us in the area. Fly-tyer extraordinaire David Nelson joined us, and he fed the first three fish that he had a shot at. After a few missed hook sets, a string of fish approached the boat, and David was left on the bow to sort out his losing streak. His first cast was on the wrong side of the fish, and he quickly shifted his weight and delivered a backcast to the other side of the pod. This turned out well as far as the cast was concerned, as it landed in front of and slightly past the lead fish. It didn’t work out so well for his iPhone, however, which didn’t survive his subsequent drop-and-roll into the water. John and I both were impressed with his ability to place the rod on the casting platform as he went in, and did the only thing a friend could do: pick up the rod and finish the cast. In my haste I attempted to re-cast–this was a mistake, as a fish had already lined up on the fly and I pulled it from almost sure gobbling.
Later I had a few shots at fish that were difficult, though I did manage to feed a nice 60 pounder that we had next to the boat on its side before the hook straightened–a perfect release.
After the fish stopped pouring, we checked a few six-friendly areas and did not find anything, though we were buoyed by desire and happily stared into the water for a few hours and imagined things victory.
We began at the same starting point as the day before, though this time we found enough tarpon to keep us interested. While we didn’t hook one, John made a site-change based on this and soon we were surrounded by multiple schools of fish rolling.
David fed one, dropped one, caught a little one (which subsequently made a bull shark very happy), and fed another before I caught one, and then he fed another 3 or 4 fish–none of them stayed connected. While a typical angler would have been trout setting, setting too soon, etc., David seemed to be doing everything properly. He fed another 3, finally breaking one off on the hook set in an attempt to stay connected.
After this we left for a few hours of 6 pursuit, and I was on the bow. I threw at a fish that had a mind to eat but wouldn’t commit, and another that lined up and turned away before cracking. We saw a string of little fish that I threw at to test our new fly selection–one ate the fly but I missed the hook set; no matter, since these fish were all under 50 lbs and there were plenty of giant creatures around.
Just after this missed hook set, a pair of fish swam down the edge towards us. It was only when we got a better look at them that we realized ‘they’ were actually ‘it’, and therefore surely a record-class critter. I took a shot that was a little short, and while my second cast was in the death-zone it didn’t work; I’m a big fan of making the first shot count, as I feel that a second shot lowers the probability of a grab considerably.
David got up next, and had a shot at a traveling pair that ended the same way most of his fish in the morning did–a great grab, but very little to show for it after the fish closed its mouth. David spotted the next pair of fish, and made a cast that was very quickly dispatched. This time, however, the entire thing went according to plan: David hooked, fought, and brought to hand a beautiful 65 pounder that I grabbed by the lip and from which I removed the fly. Even when we made him put his rod in the water and wait while I made some casts at other fish during the fight, he maintained his calm and got it done. Nice work David!!
I finished up the day on the bow, and had another 4 shots at very large creatures that didn’t eat. Fishing with John was amazing, and I am looking forward to doing more of it.
Day 2 (part deux)
We left the dock for a night trip with Aaron Snell, and even though we were tired it was obviously the only thing to do. We began by capturing a very large toadfish, and then set up on the opposite side of a channel from Aaron, who snapped the photo below of the first of many fish we dried off:
David brought to hand for release another two fish, I caught one, Aaron hooked a few, and we capped off the evening with one of the most aggressive bites I’ve seen in a while. While we didn’t remain connected to this one, we went home and, finally, went to bed. What a day, and here’s to John and Aaron for making it easy for us to slam so hard.
Another photo for your viewing enjoyment:
I’m not fishing for a few days, but I’ll be out next Wednesday with Steve Jacobs and Bruce Chard and a report will surely follow.