A north, northeast wind with gusts to 30, even 40 mph can make the east coast of Florida an unpleasant place to be, especially outside the inlets. But there’s a lot of water to cover between the coasts, too, and there’s always a lee somewhere¹.
(1. I like ditches.)
Six of them walked into the hotel bar and ordered double bourbons. They had already lost their situational awareness and laughed loudly at their own crude comments directed toward the bartender. She laughed along and defused the tension in a way that suggested hard-won poise in handling drunkards.
“George bought a boat today boys,” one of them shouted and they clinked glasses. “Nothin’ gets you off like droppin’ a million.”
They were from Alabama and they run 100 miles out to fish the Gulf and they came to Miami and George found the boat to do that.
A cold front brought in rain and everyone migrated from the boat show to the bars. The chill also shut down the tarpon running the bay and the beaches at night, and that reason to escape from the hotel.
Some of the people inside hid scars earned in the recession and saluted George for his free spending.
Places in Florida bear the scars more openly, from the boarded up apartments behind the hotel to the construction projects way out west that only recently resumed.
The peacock bass that live out west have recovered from the chill that did them in back in 2010.
The fly moved along the drop-off and two little fish fell in behind it. One outpaced the other and charged the fly and dropped it. A big one swerved in and grabbed it and felt the tension and jumped. The fly fell back to the water and another one hit and held fast.
No doubt the result turned out differently than expected.
The metal support beams of the tents at the boat show started to sway, creak and groan and the fire department said that’s it, go home.
One of the rooms by the elevator emitted trace evidence of marijuana from under the door; such undertakings are typically frowned upon at Best Western but maybe the perpetrator has glaucoma.
Yesterday I basked briefly in the glow of fat little peacock bass getting stuck with a fly I tied for just that purpose. But then the winds kicked up and the tenor of the entire place changed from Steel Pulse to Lightnin’ Hopkins.
There’s cold beer at the hotel bar but only in cans, which is alright when you think about it. Might be a little hard to execute the double haul at the moment but it’s fun to make bad fishing analogies and watch the palm trees bend like a mid-flex.
I’m a bass man. What can I say?
Maybe it’s the need to further simplicity, maybe it’s a stubbornness to stick with a go-to that continually works over a broad spectrum of species and conditions. But fish that eat other fish tend to like these hard-headed flies with big eyes and synthetic hair. With stuff like Clear-Cure Goo they take two minutes to tie and last until you lose them or your knot fails.
I’ve likely repeated this thought far too many times in photos and typed words, but until something doesn’t work, it does. Know what I’m saying?
On a cold, dark night on a Spanish stair. (Or a warm windy day as the bite turned on at sunset.)
Fished for an hour at dusk, mostly achieving nothing. I don’t know if it was the change in fly or the time of day but a flip switched and the hits finally started coming. Weird things start happening when you stick your point and shoot underwater and there’s not much light.
Pierced, spiked and branded, with the austere bars of Black Flag.
If I lived there still I might get tired of it. Maybe.
(If I lived there I’d do everything possible to be in the express lane passing through Whitewater Bay.)
But if I’m down there and I have a free moment in the right place, it’s a safe bet to figure what’s lighting up my train of thought.
The whole thing started with the least of expectations. I had a rod and some time to kill due to a delayed appointment. I made some casts. I caught nothing. I drove to the appointment. Delayed again, for another hour.
I google mapped. I found nearby water. I tried a new fly.
The Mayan Cichlid
On my first cast I caught a mayan cichlid. Sweet.
Then I saw a dark swirling shape hanging out near a submerged drain pipe. I made a cast.
The Largemouth Bass
A largemouth bass with a middling amount of heft liked my offering. OK, cool.
I released the bass. Then I saw two bulbous fish cruising the shoreline at a fast clip. I made a lead cast. One charged like a mofo.
It took off with the force of a Tri-Rail and I had to run down the bank for 20 feet or so until it settled. Actually took me to the reel. My uncertified genero-grip registered the openly hostile oscar at around two-pounds.
What an ornery little cuss.
This became interesting. The fly I had tied on looked similar to a juvie peacock, proving the cardinal law of fish: Everything eats everything. Could I make some sort of slam out of this?
My cell phone rang. I had to meet my appointment in 15 minutes. I was five minutes away.
Would a peacock bass hit a fly that looked kind of like a littler peacock?
The Peacock Bass
Death don’t have no mercy.