Last two days with John
Yesterday and the day before I fished with John O’Hearn. Yesterday, we were joined by my good friend Dave Dalu.
If you keep up with these reports, you know it has been windy. You also might know that I haven’t fished for about ten days, which has kept complaints about the wind on these pages to a minumum. That said, I am here to report that it is indeed windy, and it that it is indeed difficult to fish in these conditions.
John and I started in the middle Keys, and ended up near where the Goldenfly Invitational Tarpon Tournament has been taking place. In the interest of keeping these pages straight, when I hear the results of the tournament I will post them here.
We had a decent flow of fish, though the fish were not as compliant as we would have liked. I hooked two from a great many shots, and one of these was what would have been a release in the Goldenfly–a leader in the rod tip while the engine was in neutral. The other, unfortunately, was a missed connection at the gate. Both fish were likely over 70 pounds, though neither was brought to hand. We finished the day tired and wind-worn with a few hours dredging a channel in hopes of finding a fish to play ball without success.
We were joined by Dave Dalu, with whom I haven’t had out for a good day recently. In fact, the last time I fished with Dave was in February, when our weather was as bad (or worse, come to think of it) than it was yesterday. Then, as now, we gave it a shot and hoped for the best. Of special mention is the fact that, given the wind, I had advocated for a dredge day to see what all we could find in the channels. Dave, ever the sight-fisher, decided that we should look for a more typical (and tolerable) way to pass the day, and in rare form I caved. A quick note to those of you who want me to cave: winning a couple Gold Cups is a great place to start.
We started near where we began the day before, and while we saw fewer fish we were a little more methodical: we went right to the anchor, where yesterday it took us a few hours of difficult poling before John caved and posted up. Dave and I traded shots into the teeth for a few hours, inching towards a bite. It happened for Dave first with a grab from a member of a school that rushed the fly and never stayed connected. It happened again for Dave next, as we were repositioning from the last grab: a school of fish was snaking towards us, and as I was idling out of a channel we spotted them. John was still on the platform, and as soon as the stern was on the flat I put the engine in neutral and trimmed it up. The boat held, Dave tossed, and one of the larger fish in the school slipped into position to grab. This time he buried the point, and the fish (easily over 70) went cartwheeling into the wind, straight to its origin. With the boat drifting one way and the fish swimming in the other, it got enough line in the water to break the tippet on a jump.
With that Dave ceded the bow to me and John and I went to work to match the display. We had a bite from a nice fish from a school that straightened the hook, and while we were disappointed we were elevated by the fact that we were now, finally, hooking fish. The wind continued, and I had a few more shots before the why-can’t-I-cast-like-I-feel-like-I-should-be-able-to straightjacket began to tighten around me. I had to work through this frustration, and was glad I did when I fed a small pon from a decent string. The little fish gave a great account of itself, and we boated the animal just to enjoy the moment. My oceanside slump over, I watched Dave on the bow for another hour before we called it a day.
As always it’s great to fish with Dave and John, and next week I’m in Apalachicola for a few days fishing with David Mangum.
Reports to follow,