Tag Archives: Biscayne Bay

Untouchable

tarpon under the dock

In the back corner I sat and ate two cheeseburgers at the saddest fast food joint in the universe. It occupies the ground floor of a building off Lincoln Road, through the gauntlet of shops and street performers and open air restaurants filled with people drawn in from every habited continent. A current of energy flows by, funneling from Collins and Washington and A1A, but it doesn’t swirl into the windowless interior where the broken silver haired man sits staring at an empty cup of coffee.

The Venetian is the back way off the island, safeguarded by a series of toll booths and draw bridges that bring transit to a halt. At the foot of one bridge women on skateboards wait for the gates to reopen.

On the incoming tide the bay fills up with bright blue water that flows in past the cruise ships in the Cut. But it was at night here where I saw my first tarpon, fooled by a jigged shrimp drifting in the dark water. I followed the crashes until my eyes caught it leaping, silver scales illuminated by the ambient light of the city.

Years later the water runs blue under the Venetian and through the piers of the marina on the mainland side, where 40 to 50 million dollars worth of boats float in the water waiting for the affluent to open their checkbooks. Underneath the shaded docks the moving stream is occasionally interrupted by splashes that sound like tail flicks and then the unmistakeable sound of tarpon gulping air. They float in formation facing into the tide and when I lay down on the dock and stick my head underneath they do not flinch.

These fish are not to be touched. But even if you could they’d retreat to the concrete and your line would go slack before you even had a say in it.

We're The People's Front of Bud's Lounge

We’re The People’s Front of Bud’s Lounge

Flats Fishing Graduate School:

Alarm goes  off at 5:50. Rush through the hotel lobby into car and to 7-11.

7-11 out of Pop Tarts. Get two Cliff Bars, two liters of water for $2, and a pre-wrapped Cuban sub.

6:45 AM–Meet guide at the launch ramp, proceed to flats with visions of first permit.

8:00 AM–Wind picks up to 15-20 knots, with gusts, guide searches for bonefish by looking for muds.

8:30 AM–We find muds. Bones disperse on first false cast.

9:14 AM–We find more bones. They split town when I point at them. Don’t point at them, don’t even look at them. Pretend they’re not there.

9:30 AM–Second of two Cliff Bars consumed. Thoughts turn to 7-11 Cuban samwich.

10:15 AM–School of six bones present themselves at 12 o’clock downwind. Cast about five feet too short. Bone looks at fly, makes movement, says nice try fucker, school disbands.

10:45–Bones cruise by at 3 o’clock, directly into the wind. Forget Rude Boy/Soft Boy, line collapses in a pile 20-feet too short. I hate buck fever.

11:07 AM–First half of 7-11 Cuban consumed.

11:38 AM–Permit presents itself right in front of the boat. My first cast ever to a permit. My fly lands perfectly; the permit looks, laughs, takes a piss on the fly.

12:13 PM–Second half of 7-11 Cuban consumed.

12:13 PM and 33 seconds–Bonefish show up while my hands are covered in mustard.

12:47 PM–A massive school of fish shows up, not spooking. We pole close. They are bar jacks.

12:48 PM–I want to catch a bar jack. I cast in front of the school.

12:48 PM, and 15 Seconds–There are two bones hanging with the bar jacks. They freak out and blow up the whole flat.

1:15 PM–Bar jacks reassemble. We pole close. Bones alert the school. All is lost.

2:00 PM–Last hour of tide, last flat of the day. School of  four BIG bones shows up, plays nice, stops at 1 o’clock to root around. It’s dead into the wind, but this time I get the cast. The fly lands where it should, moves like it should, and the bonefish moves to it. He’s at least eight pounds. He stops, says Just kidding mang, can’t touch this, and we’re done.

2:47 PM–We’re slack, I’m cooked, and I wish I had another day to get after it again.

3:27–Guide hands me my participant ribbon.

3:30 PM to Midnight –Beer.