Category Archives: Inshore

Grande

We talked about going out again to try the dock lights for snook but we didn’t. There’s this card game that midwesterners play called Euchre and it’s as addictive as fishing and we ordered more drinks at the bar and played that.

In the morning we purchased 10-dozen shrimp and threw the castnet over some greenies and netted some crabs and filled the livewell and headed out. Snook showed themselves along the mangroves as well as the old man-made structures from the phosphate era and they fought like snook are supposed to. I hooked one and pulled it away from the pilings but a dolphin was waiting and it grabbed hold and swam away and there was nothing my drag could do about it.

Trout came up from the grass flats and jack crevalle and even some hardheaded cats and snapper came out from the mangroves and out on the wrecks along with grouper. Something big took the reel down to the  last bit of line before it broke free and what else would it be but a goliath grouper?

The water looks green and blue and the incoming and dirty on the outgoing but it’s moving and there’s always a place to beach the boat and cool off.

When the afternoon storms roll in it’s important to be within running distance of a dockside establishment that puts up with anglers who may not have bathed in days. Scattered among the outposts in Pine Island Sound, there are many.

At sunset we jumped a tarpon and it breached the surface and we could hear people gasping and squealing on the other boats and we fought it for a while before it spit. That was good enough.

Sometimes it’s not about the gear you use or the fish you pursue but the people you are with that makes it. That, and getting really, really drunk.

Ghost of the Hippocampus

It was an overshoot, a lousy cast, and it scattered the fish but they quickly regrouped and the guide told me to keep stripping the fly and two started competing for it and one beat out the other and then I had to clear my line.

I remember that moment in Andros South because, like a lot of my fishing, it was mechanically less than perfect but the connection still packed a physiological charge, like lightning seeking a path to ground. And because, for whatever reason, it was the last time I felt and saw a bonefish eat a fly.

That happened about five years ago. Before I caught my first bonefish, in 2005, it seemed like such an important thing to be doing, to need to have done, that now it seems odd that it took someone else’s recent post about Andros South to realize that somewhere along the way, fishing for bonefish transitioned from something I do to something I did.

boneflies2

There are plenty of things I used to do, like play ice hockey or drive stick shift, but fly fishing is something I still do, and probably the thing I have done for the longest amount of time. But what to make of the parts of it stuck in the past tense?

Maybe it circles back to what it all is to you in relation to everything else. Is fishing linear, a list of accomplishments to check off in succession? (That’s a hard thing to quantify anyway–in 1999 I caught a blue marlin in Hawaii but that qualifies as an experience rather than an achievement.) Or is it more of a fluid thing with ebbs and flows or does it evolve into  Wordsworthian spots of time?

Either way it’s not like “did” in this case has complete finality because there’s still the attainable possibility of “will do.” I don’t know when or where yet, but one day a bonefish will swim onto a flat,  unaware that it is moments from mistaking my fly for a fleeing shrimp. When that happens, I’ll ride that lightning.

bonefish-flat

Little Faces

The last thing you want to do is humanize them because they’re not looking at the world in the same way. But they are looking at you.

Others may think we treat them like toys with the hollering and fist bumps that ensue from hooking them but that’s not what we do.

The eyes are alive and maybe their brains don’t process us like facial recognition software but their photoreceptors still collect the light. I’m no scientist but I know these fish remember.

Possibly (hopefully), some day 15 years from now this baby tarpon will be far removed from the swamps and moving along the coast, and it will notice the potential food twitching in its face that looks a little bit like craft fur.

There’s the chance it will catch sight of your refracted profile rising from above the waterline, which will trigger an historical recollection of trauma, and it will pass.

And if you’d like, you can blame me for that.

Enough Of Your Borax, Poindexter

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It’s not complicated. If you find the water and its surface temperature is in the 70s and the air temperature is in the 80s, they will be hungry. And if you cast  they will chase. And when they do that and you watch it go down in the shallows it sets off a wave of opioid polypeptide compounds that washes over your neuro-receptors, and you are happy.

It’s On, Sort Of

The water outside the inlet looked glassy and the rain bait made audible splashes as they circled together and jumped to escape pursuit. Bluefish caused this. They appeared as bright flashes when they turned sideways and slashed through the tiny fish with their mouths open. Once in a while one would break the surface with its forked tail. Then everything would go down but fish oil slicked on the surface and the water glittered from the refraction off thousands of tiny free-floating scales. Evidence of dismemberment.

 

 

One bait ball remained tight and we idled over to it and I witnessed something I had never seen before. The rain bait pulsated and we made casts around the edges and waited for the thump. Something peeled away from the bait ball and followed my fly but it was not quite right. It swam lazily behind right up to the boat, and another followed and they were red and clumsy and did not eat. We moved closer and watched as two dozen of their  kind fanned their pectorals and jacked the bait. Sea robins.

Hey man, this is the ocean. Everything eats everything, and everything’s looking for a reason to go off.