Last Week with Ian Slater and Simon Becker
Last week I fished a day with Ian Slater to finish up Frankie’s trip down filming, and then followed that with a day with Simon Becker and Kat.
With Ian on Sunday:
The time we had to fish was cut short by Ian’s shift starting at 2, so we got a early start with hopes of getting a few bites on film. After a short run to the place Ian wanted to fish, and a short while of hunting for the scales, we had a few fish pass by that gave us a good shot. The first fish in the group of three didn’t make a mistake, and the second also evaded our efforts. The third fish, however, made a great show of a close bite. This fish, unfortunately, got away when the rod was pulled upwards in a fast, trouting motion by yours truly. Sigh.
The second bite came a short while later, from a large single fish cruising in the current. We had a blind spot in our visibility from a low hanging cloud, and the fish was swimming towards it. In order to get the fly to go where we desired we had to leave the intercept point (and hopefully the bite) in said blank spot, and we just fished by assumption until we came tight. To this fish we did not fall victim of the trout set, but nonetheless the fish jettisoned the hook on a shaking jump. We continued to look for more fish as the sun got higher, and while we found a few more there were no more bites in store for us at this spot.
Ian ran us to a place that held nothing of interest, and then to another that did. In fact, our very first shot at the third place we fished was a good one: Ian put the stalk on a large laid up dragon for a while until we had the right angle, and on our second cast we got the giant to crack open. This fish, too, was lost on the hook set as it swam at the boat and shook the fly free before we could purchase any purchase. We continued on in this spot, having some decent shots but unable to get another bite before the clock ran out.
With Simon and Kat on Monday:
We started early, and Simon took us to a place we hoped might have some scales. Kat was up first, and didn’t have any shots until Simon picked up and moved us elsewhere. We left for a place that the three of us had fished before, and here the fish were available but hidden behind some early angle glare and marshmallow clouds. Simon made a solid effort to keep the boat moving slowly enough not to sacrifice a shot to proximity, and Kat had her work cut out for her on the close shots. Kat had a great shot at a small string of fish in some sunlight, and while we held our breath in hopes of the bite it never came. I was up next, and it was a lucky hook cast that gave up the bite from a fish facing away from us. Despite the hugely advantageous angle of a fish taking the fly going away from us, we weren’t able to connect in a meaningful way to this fish. Kat hopped up again to finish the spot, and Simon soon brought us to a place where he thought we might find a permit.
Kat was on the bow with a permit rod in hand when Simon pointed out a laid up tarpon on the bank. The easiest (and most beneficial) thing for me to do was to pick up the tarpon rod and strip off some line and change places with Kat. This worked out well; on our first shot, the fish snaked behind the fly and gave us a head charging bite. The fish sprinted off, and with the aggressive bite and hard run I figured the hook was buried. After a long run and a shaking jump the fish went slack, and we assumed the tippet had broken. Upon retrieval we found that the hook had fallen out, which was odd considering the quality of the bite and the hook set. The shock was abraded all the way to the knot, missing the blood knot wraps of the class by the smallest of margins. We shook our heads at the chances of losing a fish so hooked, putting it behind us and facing the next fish on the bank with Kat on the bow. Kat had two shots at laid up fish that didn’t cooperate, and we went to another place after the edge was finished.
I was up to start at the next place, and it didn’t take long for Simon’s intuition to prove itself trustworthy. The first fish we saw crawling down the bank fell victim to a cast out in front of it, though with the heavy current there was too much slack to give us a solid hook up. I was frustrated by this point–between the fish with Doug that broke the shock tippet and the fish earlier in this same day (not to mention the ones with Ian the day before), I was eager for a face grab. I tied on a new fly and stayed up on the bow (with Kat’s permission) to try another shot at a tarpon. We had a couple half shots at fish too close or too far, not making contact as the fishing slowed. Simon soon spotted a single fish near the bottom in the current, and we got a shot about 15 feet up current of the smudge. We had to leave the fly to drift, feed some line, and hope that we got lucky as we barreled past the fish in the incoming current. As we passed the animal I saw it elevate, and when it chipped up on the fly I brought the rod down current to get the corner angle. This worked out well, and the fish squirted off away from us as we got a solid hook set. The fish didn’t jump right away but continued to take line, and Simon soon started the motor for a grab attempt. The fish was larger than we first thought, and with a jump we confirmed it was a little over 100 pounds: perfect practice for the Goldenfly in a few weeks. As the fish got higher in the water and the end game neared, another jump caused the shortened shock to ride into the corner of the cinder block mouth, coming undone as soon as we put some pressure on the fish.
Kat was up for a while after giving me the generous gift of two bites in a row, but we never found much to throw at. We bumped around from place to place, getting a few shots here and there but never finding the numbers we hoped for. When the light got low we headed home.
I’d like to thank Simon and Ian for great days both, and I’m sure you’ll see some footage from the latter whenever Frankie puts it together.
Next up I’ve got a day trading shots with John Benvenuto on Monday, then next Sunday through Tuesday with Simon and Kat. The next week I’ve got two days with John before the Goldenfly, which starts the following Monday.
More to come