Last Friday (playing catch up as always), I fished with John O’Hearn as the guest of Lawson Stiff. Our target was any of the big three, and we started off by looking for permit.
The fishing slow, and while Lawson and I each got shots at a few fish it never really turned on enough for us to make something with. We bumped around for a few hours, getting a shot or two here and there, until the tide changed and we went elsewhere for a look at new water. There, we found a few groups of (very) small permit that were mudding as they swam through the grass. They were fast moving and hard to see, and the best we could muster was a passing shot at a school as they went on by. A single fish left the school to get behind the fly, but never ate it and rejoined the group that was now moving even faster away from us. We messed around with these fish for another half hour before deciding we (and likely they) had had enough and headed back in the direction of home.
At our next stop we found a few tarpon, and Lawson deftly got the fly into two mouths but was unable to keep it there. The next few shots were mine, and despite a few hard follows I was unable to get the grab from any of them. The flow was drying up, and when it was too dry for us we left and went to a final spot in search of a permit to throw at. Lawson had a few shots at mudding fish, and then John got up and I took over the poling part of the transaction (just to make it that much harder). John had a single shot at a large fish, and when the fly landed John put the rod under one arm and began a two-handed retrieve as a residual reflex from tarpon fishing. The fish didn’t seem to mind, and quickly followed and ate the fly. John stripped the fly right out of his mouth, and with that I was up. I didn’t get any shots after this, and we headed home.
I’d like to thank Lawson for inviting me along, and I hope to spend some more time with him on the water in the future.
Up next was the Poor Boys tournament, which I was again fishing with my good friend (and superb guide) Joe Rodriguez. We fished near Islamorada all three days, and while we didn’t have great catching the fishing was steady and we had a great time. The prefish day was slow to start with, but we finally fed and caught a nice 60 pounder in the last minutes of the day to keep our spirits high. The next day (the first tournament day) was tough for us. Perhaps I was feeling some residual complex from the Gold Cup, but the entire day I felt like I was a few degrees off on the fly placement, retrieve, and reading fish. We didn’t catch any that day, though the next day went better: we hooked three fish, two of which we were able to catch. Back at the dock, we found that we were out of the running for the top three. John Donnell and Ken Biro won the tournament, second place went to Tom and Deb Kapusta (of Kapusta Reels) fishing with Scott Collins, and third place went to Kathy and Oliver Hoar (last year’s winners) fishing with Captain Brian Helms. Our two fish from the second day put us right behind these three teams, and while fourth doesn’t count for much it felt a lot better than last.
Yesterday and the day before I fished with Aaron Snell and Jason Schratwieser, and we had some pretty epic permit fishing. Yesterday, in particular, was one for the memory bank. I have pictures and a report from that trip, but I will have to wait until after the Del Brown that starts on Sunday to post it. We have one more day to scout before the tournament begins, so I’ll be unable to write until after the smoke settles.
More to come after the Del; results and a report as always.