Monday I fished with John O’Hearn. Joining us was Thomas Rapone, down for a few days from his Boston Legal Lair.
The day began covered in clouds. I am reminded that just the other day I was involved in a correspondence with Howard Davis, wherein he mentioned that the weather has seemed, based on the reports, cloudier and windier than normal.
We elected to go fishing (because what else is there to do), and as it turned out I’m glad we did.
Thomas and I traded shots in the morning at small tarpon, and while there were many fish they were spread thin. As such, we were unable to come tight to a fish and left them for a permit. It’s worth noting that Thomas has caught a single permit in his career, and while he’s an angler of the finest kind his second permit has eluded him.
At our first stop we had schools of fish pushing in the glare, and every so often they would tail up as they approached. They were unfortunately skittish, and while we had maybe a dozen casts at schools of fish only one ended up in front of them before they veered off course, frightened by the whole deal. I didn’t get a bite then, though with no way to see the fish in the water it is possible that we missed something. Either way, it was good fishing and kept us occupied while we waited for the tide we wanted at the next spot.
After a run, we found ourselves at the edge where we would spend the rest of our day. What began as calm and slack ended up with enough wind to make something happen if the stars aligned, coupled with a great tidal movement across the edge.
Thomas and I were on a two-shot rotation, and in two hours we each were up maybe four times. Since the absence of sun prevented us from seeing the fish in the water, we were fishing to intermittent tails. Of the shots we had, two ended up in front of a tailing fish–neither were eaten, but it was good to be in the game nonetheless.
In the last hour of our fishing, Thomas spotted what looked to be a giant tailing permit on the other end of the bar. As we approached, two things became apparent: one, this fish was quite large, and two, this was no permit. The sickle tail that we saw tried to cross the shallow flat, spooked, then turned around and tried again. John was poling hard after the creature when it finally gave up on its crossing attempt, and we saw the large sickle disappear into the channel.
So…what was it? We can begin by eliminating possibilities: it wasn’t a permit, as this would have been a 100 pound permit and those don’t exist. It wasn’t a shark or a ray, as the tail was far too thin and sickle shaped to belong to any shark. It wasn’t a tarpon, as again the fin was nearly three feet out of the water and too thin.
John is convinced that it was the sickle of a large yellowfin tuna, which have been known occasionally to swim into the flats around Key West through a deep channel and get lost. Without confirming the animal visually I have a hard time calling it a yellowfin for sure, as it could have been a marlin or a sailfish. One thing is for sure: this fish was large, not of the flats, surely pelagic and wasn’t seen again.
We ended the day with another few shots at permit (which seemed a whole lot less exotic now) and headed home.
The next day I fished with Justin, and I’ll post that report in the next few days.