On Tuesday and Wednesday, I fished with Captain Scott Collins. We were joined by my wife, and our target was permit.

Day One:

We started in the morning, and everything but the wind seemed to be in our favor. We set out to find some fish to throw at.

At our first stop, we found some tailing fish that never afforded us a shot. We saw two different groups of fish sliding around the skinny, but each time we saw them we only noticed them after they had noticed us.

After an hour of this, we moved to a new area and looked for some new playmates. I had a shot at a single fish across the wind, but with the moving boat and howling wind putting a large bow in my line I pulled the fly away from the fish before it could react. My second cast fell victim to the same disadvantage, and after another hour we left.

Kat was up first at our next stop, and immediately had a nice shot that she put in the right zone. The fish didn’t respond, and in another half hour we had another shot at a nearly identical looking fish that issued a similar dismissal of an equally  well-placed cast from Kat. We bumped around near the area for a while longer before we moved into a final spot for the afternoon. There, the clouds began to plague our efforts. In between the glare, we looked hard but saw very little. Finally, in a brief bit of sun, we spotted a fish close to the boat. I tossed the little fly in front of the fish, and by the time the fish was behind it I was stripping leader well into the rod tip. The fish paused and looked, shook a bit, then bolted off. Unbelievably the fish was hooked, and we fired up the motor when the fish dumped some line on us. In short order, Scott netted the nice fish for us:

NCL #39 Scott and Kathryn

 

Following our capture we had an hour of hard looking in the clouds before calling it a day.

Day Two:

We started on the same few frustrating tailers we had encountered the day before, and this time Kat was up. We had a better angle on the schools this morning, and while we saw them first we never got a bite: the same wind that allowed us to get close also prevented us from presenting a fly, and we were all bummed by this new challenge.

After an hour or two in the shallows, we left for some deeper flats. There, I had a few shots at single fish before a group of three large permit showed up. The first cast I made didn’t get out the door since my running line was wound into a tight knot, and in the moment I decided it would be best to leave the detangling to another time. I grabbed the 10 weight out of the boat and stripped off the line to cast at the still close fish. The fly landed where I wanted it to, but the fish didn’t make it count. Ordinarily fish like these, when presented with an oh-so-delicious fly in their midst, would be a sure thing. This time, not so much.

Soon we spotted another group of fish near the boat, and again dropped a fly in their midst. The largest fish was spinning in a high circle, and as I picked up my fly to re-present a smaller fish gave chase to the fleeing fly. I was unable to get the grab once again, and my ego felt increasingly fragile.

Kat had a great cast at a single fish thereafter, though the cloud cover kept us from seeing the fish until the fly landed on top of it. We moved and had another shot at a few singles. After that, I had a shot at a very large fish that tracked my fly for 30 feet before falling away from it and spooking off. A tough day to have before the Merkin, though it was nice to get out with Scott in a non-competitive environment.

Sunday with Pat Bracher and Monday I start with John. Merkin begins on Tuesday. A report will follow with the results and an in-depth report of our fishing.

 

nathaniel