Anyone want to buy a house in South Austin? I will make you a really good deal! You see, I am just back from a three-day fishing trip in the Keys and even though the weather was disagreeable and the fishing was tough, I am officially nailing a FOR SALE sign in my front yard and moving to Marathon to chase tarpon full time.
Setting aside my slight real estate hyperbole, I am indeed having a mad love affair with tarpon. Here’s a quick breakdown of the fishing:
Day 1 — We met up with our guide Rich Keating. The Professor fished with Rich last May, but this was my first time to meet him, and I liked him straightaway. Positive, cool, great bullshit and utterly confident I could break into this new saltwater scene. Despite scattered clouds and rain in the distance Rich was able to show us plenty of action. My first time ever to cast at baby tarpon, at an 80-pound tarpon and two shots at permit. My casts were respectable enough but truthfully my skills fell just short. No matter, I was in heaven. Lots of firsts for me right out of the gate.
Day 2 – All of our excitement happened in the first two hours on the water when we were able to sight cast at small tarpon rolling and smacking at shrimp all around us. Apparently the wind and tide had pushed some murky, un-oxygenated water around this one island, causing shrimp to rise up to the surface for some O2, drawing the tarpon in like crazy. Good heavens it was fun. Hooked one right away, lost it. Hooked another small tarpon, jumped it a few times, and now I can honestly say the tarpon has “hooked” me. Baby tarpon, baby steps. But now I want to get to the next level.
Unfortunately, the activity waned from here. Thicker clouds and serious thunderstorms began to smother us and the fish. Rich ran us all over the Gulf side and the flats on the ocean but despite relentless spot-hopping we couldn’t find many signs of fish life.
Day 3 – Things looked ominous outside our motel window, but we dressed for fishing and geared-up nonetheless. Rich picked us up right on queue and we drove toward the put-in with determination despite a thick blanket of grey clouds and a wind that was shaking street signs and whipping the water into white caps. It didn’t look good, so we decided to sit tight for a few hours and delay our decision. Unfortunately time didn’t help. Radar showed we were covered up with clouds and a serious cold front. Rich called it about noon, no fishing. So The Professor and I hopped in the rental car and cruised down to Key West for an afternoon of sight-seeing.
All in all it was a fabulous trip, we had a blast. By most accounts, the fishing wasn’t exactly off the charts, but from my perspective I feel like I won the lottery having my first encounter with tarpon and permit! Despite our optimistic determination the weather simply had its way with us, piling on more and more each day like a gluttonous serving of hash browns at Waffle House, scattered, smothered & covered. Still, sometimes you just have to give it a try and dig right in even though you know it’s capable of shutting everything down and bringing all activity to a screeching halt.