After the two days with John boy, I was invited to fish for a day with Drew Delashmit as a guest of Ted Margo. I’ve always enjoyed fishing with Ted, and part of the point of this trip was for him to test drive the beast skiff with an eye towards an eventual purchase of one for himself.
We started early, and Ted kicked off the morning with a number of great opportunities in the direction of a rolling school of tarpon in a backcountry cut. The fish gave up one bite for our efforts, and after this one didn’t work out the fish moved on and so did we. Ted remained on the bow through the next spot, and at the third I got up for a chance at getting one myself. The first shot I had made me look better than I am, with a high sliding single fish falling victim to a fly that graciously landed exactly where it needed to. This fish ate the fly past the 12 inch shock–the first of these I’d had in a long time. We did get a great jump out of the fish, however, and this was enough to keep us interested in this area for a long time. We were unable to get another fish to crack open in the next hour of sticking nearby, and after it was clear that things were harder than they needed to be we relocated to one of Drew’s proprietary haunts.
Here we found a few groups of tarpon trickling towards us, and Ted got on the bow to make something happen. It didn’t on the first few casts, and before a fly change Ted offered me the rod for a try. I had to take a few casts to get things right, but when I was finally able to put the feathers in the right location the second of a pair made everything right and opened up. This fish never stayed connected, however, and we stuck in the area for enough time to figure out that things had slowed before we went elsewhere. I poled Drew to a few shots in the afternoon, watching him get a bite and a hard follow from as many shots. We took a glance in other places, waiting for the tide to get right where Drew wanted to finish, and we found nothing before moving.
At our last stop we were greeted with fish from the gate, and Ted and I went shot-for-shot to finish the day. I had a shot, then him, and then on the third I connected to a large fish. Ted got some nice video of the bite and subsequent jumps, which I’m not able to display here due to my lack of technical abilities, as well as some stills of the aerial show:
We kept on through a few more shots, before I was able to to coax an unexpected bite in front of a push I threw absentmindedly in front of. This fish was larger than the last, and I fought it for a while before the shock wore through and we kept looking for another:
Towards the finish of the day I was able to get one more bite, this one from a smaller fish, and after that we called it a day. The following day Ian and I set out just the two of us to make something of a too-calm morning as wind clocked around to the north.
We started near where we’d finished the day before, and there found fish that were basically impossible. I don’t mean that they were uncatchable; one of my most firmly clutched beliefs is that any fish is possibly seduced by some combination of pattern and presentation, but in our case this combination was outside of our abilities. We kept with it for a few hours, nearly losing our minds by lunch time in pursuit of this thing that neither of us wanted to admit was simply not gonna happen.
Ian finally called a move, and we made our way to a nearby place. The wind picked up and Ian found us a few targets milling around the mouth of a channel, one of which gave us a great slurp of feathers to send us into chase mode. We fought the fish on a 10 weight and in some heavy current, and I was pleased when it ran out of gas before I did and Ian got ahold to some fish face. I snapped a picture before we sent it on its way:
After that we were slightly elated, feeling very much like we’d earned a break. We drifted down a nearby channel on the tide, and at the end of it were met with a beautiful gulf edge that we couldn’t help but pole in search of a tailing permit. We gave it a half-hearted half-hour before we returned to where we’d started and gave it another go in what was now an afternoon breeze.
This time we started out with the success that had earlier eluded us. A large single slid behind the boat, and a decent cast got us attached to another large tarpon. This one threw the hook before the end of the fight, and we kept on to get another. We were able to coax but one more bite from the fish before our time got thin that threw the hook on a jump, and we then headed home as the sun was setting.
I’d like to thank Ian for a great day on the water, and tomorrow and the next I’m with him again. The weather is going to be windy, and we will be in its teeth.
More to come after the next two days as usual.