The awful early season weather we had has finally passed, and it seems that things are heating up in serious ways. I last left the reports off last week, which leaves me writing this report in the beautiful weather (and after a great day of fishing yesterday) about heading out with John O’Hearn into the last awful breath of the horrid weather beast that was the early season down here.
In the rain we made a decision to explore some new country on our first day of fishing. Such days are made for team building, and we got an early start. We bumped around from place to place, searching for some dredge spots in the wet drab morning. We found a few places worth a look, though the fish were not about. We poked our heads out on the ocean, and after seeing a small group of three pass by felt as if it might be worth continuing. We found nothing and continued on in the rain and clouds. When we finally dug our heels in we felt as though we might actually pull a tarpon from the rolls in deeper water, though a large number of casts reminded us that simply finding a tarpon was the best we would be able to come up with on a day like this. When the day tapered off we went home, settling on a plan for the following day on the way. We chose not to return to the site of our discontent, instead drawing up plans to cover different water on day 2.
Our joy of discovery jar full, the second day started out with one thing in mind: catch a fish. We started in one place and found nothing, then headed elsewhere and staked off where John thought we might see a roll. In 20 minutes we had seen our first roll, and re-positioned to get into range. As soon as we dropped down current the fish passed us, and I was left hurling into a brutal cross wind at fish that stayed just out of range. John worked into the heavy current to get us a shot, and when the fly landed in harm’s way we were tight. The fish jumped and ran off, discarding the fly on a second jump. I reeled in the line to near where I thought the body of fish would still be, and on my first strip came tight again. This time the hook held, and we fought the smaller fish on a nearby flat. I was close to getting the fish to hand when the hook broke–sad stuff, but I was glad that it was not the shock wearing through. We returned to the place that we’d hooked the fish, and after an hour moved nearby for a shot at some new targets.
For the rest of the afternoon we bumped around, trying to replicate our midday success. The fish continued to roll intermittently, but we were unable to get a grab. After a while we moved on for a change of scenery. We found a few small groups of tarpon rolling in a channel, never finding a bite. The ocean was a rainy wasteland, as was the nest stop and the next. When 5:00 rolled around we were glad for our earlier success and ran home.
After those two days, the weather began to improve. On Wednesday I fished as Ted Margo’s guest with John O’Hearn to witness the turnaround first hand. We started early, and while our first stop didn’t yield anything our second did. I jumped a fish early on, then missed another bite. A third bite connected us more permanently to a tarpon, and this one I fought for a few minutes until the class broke. We inspected it and saw that it had been abraded in some way, which was less disappointing than the shock breaking again. At the risk of sounding overly confident, it seems I’ve arrived lately on a(nother) fluorocarbon that seems to be doing the job I am in need of.
Following that fish we moved on, and Ted was up. He had a fair number of shots at travelling fish, and one of these caused a bite. The hook never found a home, and I set out to try my luck after another half hour of shots. During my tenure on the bow I also missed a bite, and in retrospect I assume that the cause was me simply getting eager on a fast strip after seeing the mouth open. I stayed up for a little longer, and from a passing pair was able get a large fish attached. This fish stayed on for about 20 minutes, and Ted readied himself for the grabbing job. I swung the fish close a few times, and on what was to be the final come around the hook came out. Once again I was happy with the non-shock failure ifslightly annoyed that I had missed an opportunity at grabbing a large fish in tournament prep mode.
Ted hopped up again, and we went through some new targets. We had another group of shots at fish deep and disinterested, and when I was back up we received only brief absorption from the now shy fish. We left for new places and Ted stayed up for most of the time, interrupted only by John who visited the bow through a fishless attempt at knocking the dust off a spot that he hasn’t had much luck with for a few years while I poled. After that John called a move far away, and when we arrived Ted was up for his chance at redemption. He had about six shots, and when home started to beckon I got up for a short while to finish the spot. I had two shots: on one of them the fish lifted and looked, and on the second the trailing member of the pair lifted and finished things off perfectly. I fought the smaller 60 pound fish to Ted’s waiting hands, which were waiting much better the second time around. We took some pictures to mark the occasion and went on our merry little way:
I did speak with John and Ted the following day, and since it’s a neat story I figure it’s of note here: they caught a bunch.
I’m fishing next on Tuesday with Ian, and towards the end of the week with Simon and Kat.
More to follow as always,