Scattered Smothered & Covered

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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12 thoughts on “Scattered Smothered & Covered

  1. Finally, Finally, Finally!!!!!! FFC goes chasing tarpon!

    If you’re into camping, let me know, i know some awesome camping spots there….and where bonefish are!

    Rob

  2. Great post. I know what you mean about trying to move from trout to salt. Casting skills help but you still have to cast so as to intercept a fast moving target and judge the distance, and remember the which way 9:00 is, and strip strike, and do all of this while the largest fish you have ever seen in your life swims by. Whew. Sounds like you did better than me on my first Keys trip!

  3. Pingback: Fly Fish Chick Loves the Keys « Bonefish on the Brain

  4. It’s great to hear that you’re back in the salt but I feel badly that you had the fickle Keys fall weather to deal with. I’m a retired skiff guide from the lower keys and enjoyed hearing of your latest adventure. You were indeed with one of the top guides in the Keys when you stepped on to Capt. Rich’s skiff. As I reflect back on my time on the poling platform the memories that are the most vivid and exciting are the annual tarpon migrations that pass through the Keys every summer. It is without a doubt the most spectacular happening in the realm of saltwater fly fishing. I have had countless clients over the years who have shared the emotions that you describe. There is simply nothing quite like seeing these beautiful fish in numbers from one or two to groups of 30 or more swimming toward you and trying to slow your heart rate down to a level that allows your mind to grasp what is happening and to command your arms and legs to stop quivering. Even seasoned veterans of many fights with these glorious fish still struggle to calm themselves as the moment of launching the fly approaches. Tarpon fishing in the Keys is a passion that I will never lose. I hope that you continue your quest and book sometime with Capt. Rich in May of June of next year. With your passion for fishing it won’t surprise me at all to see the FFC settling in the Keys. (Try Big Pine or the Torch keys though, Marathon is a little too big city). Btw, if you haven’t read it pick up a copy of Tarpon Quest by John Cole, it will help.
    Tight lines and remember to bow!

  5. Wow, just read an article in the new Flyfish Journal about how once you’ve caught Tarpon you can’t go back. Then i read you’re selling you’re house because you’ve got the “sickness”.

    Kind of tempting to try it.

  6. Well done!

    Last time I fished with JP we had shrimp the size of bratwursts flying out of the water to get away from sharks and jacks. Hell, that alone is exciting enough to be addictive.

  7. You go girl. I like Islamarada for large fish. I know a guy who landed a tarpon off a jetski. No alcohol involved ……………really. It was an official hook up. Mollasses reef is full of sharks and lots of fly eating monsters. Good luck with the tarps…..

    Tell me how to see your house details….I am in San Antonio and like Austin a alot.

    Greg

  8. Hi

    Stumbled across your blog and feel the need to move too – at least for the winter. Caught my first tarpon last March in Mexico.

    Have fished at least one week in Mexico, Long Island, Eleuthera, Great Exuma and G. Bahama the past five winters and wonder about renting a small place for part of the winter to do more. Caught my first j. tarpons last year out of Playa Blanco Lodge well south of Cancun – awesome!

    Dream of an affordable “short sale” property to buy and enjoy winter months fishing and playing a little tennis.

    John
    PTR Master Tennis Professional
    Virginia

  9. john– you will be happy to know I have also taken up tennis in 2009. unfortunately I had to ‘put it down’ this summer to nurse along a herniated disk

    but somewhere between writing a book, parenting my daughter, visiting the professor in alabama, fishing when I can, and training for an endurance race, I plan to pick it back up

  10. Pingback: Fly Fish Chick Loves the Keys | Bonefish on the Brain

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