Earlier in the month I had a trip planned in the Everglades with Steve Huff, and the idea was that Kat and I would go up there together and throw 4 pound tippet at snook. The ladies record, at 6.5 pounds, is a fish that is many times more available than the men’s record, which stands at 15.5 pounds. The plan was to primarily fish for a record for Kat, but also look in a few places for the men’s record and hope that we came across a giant. Sadly Kat was unable to come, and not wanting to cancel the days I went alone to fish with Steve–something I haven’t done in a long while. Ever since we fought a truly large tarpon on 6# tippet through the night and missed numerous gaff shots for lack of a third person, nearly every one of my trips up there have included a third party. Even after we finally broke the record, I’ve returned with friends and/or Kat to fish. In a way, the sad circumstance of Kat not coming offered a chance for Steve and I to get out ourselves, and have some fun without a massive world record campaign to run. Which is not to say that we didn’t throw four or give our best effort to connect with a massive snook: during both days, we never wavered from our approach to catch a fish big enough to break the current record. We did not, however, feel the pressure to perform or execute beyond our natural desire to fish this way. It’s possible that we’ve matured, though anyone that knows us must be sure that this is not the case. Instead, I think we were just happy to try doing something at the expense of definitely doing anything else, and we went from place to place in the two days in search of a large snook to pick a fight with in good spirits. Maybe finally catching that tarpon we were after made it easier, or filled a hole. Whatever the reason, we set out to have fun fishing but also made every effort we could to catch a particular fish a particular way.
At each spot Steve would let slip a story of a past giant he had guided an angler to, and in one of these places we found a few fish that might have been enough. The first one we hooked never attached, though a few minutes later we were tight to another that sulked around on the bottom, not doing much of anything for a minute or two. Steve and I talked about how to handle things being this way, and after some discussion Steve poled away from the fish, simulating what a slow run would be like, ordering the fly line away from its tangly nest on the deck. The fish still hadn’t done much, though as soon as we had it on the reel it made its way confidently towards the shoreline and immediately broke us off on the mangroves. We re-rigged and threw some more casts, and one of them was interrupted by a truly large snook that looked like it borrowed its black lateral line from a roll of black duct tape. This fish didn’t stay connected either, and while the contact was brief it was enough to keep me and Steve convinced that we were doing the right thing as far as what we were up to out there.
The rest of the fishing we did never gave as much as what we found on the first day, though we were in the presence of enough fish to make it feel like we were close to hooking a potential record. We saw them as giant dusty clouds, kicking silt up as they spooked off the boat, enough to assure our continued efforts. Every so often one or the other of us would remark that we could be, or even should be, catching a few fish and not bother with the hunt for such a large snook on such light tippet. But then we would keep doing what we were doing, happier trying than not, content in the process and glad to be out there. I didn’t get any trophy pictures, but took a good one to mark the occasion as we wound through a creek on day 2:
I’d like to thank Steve for putting up with me for so long, and I hope to return in less than a year to give this new game some more repetitions. After I returned home the cold front hit hard, shutting things down for a few days, though now it appears the weather is normalizing. More to come, though I’ll be taking a few months off from fishing often as Kat prepares for the Merkin.
More to come,