A big pat on the back goes to Dan Decibel for showing me around Flamingo a Sunday or two ago. Had a half dozen fish eat, saw two bald eagles, had a scare from a python and lived to tell about it. All in all, a great day on the water, which serve as the foundation for a story in Fly Fisherman.
Monthly Archives: December 2014
One of the great life lessons of fly fishing is it forces you to adapt. New water or a different species often demands a different skill. For me, the transition involved a canoe.
A move from Gainesville to Tampa a few years ago yielded the purchase of a Native Ultimate 14.5, then considered the premier fly-fishing paddlecraft. I had to have one.
At first I used it quite a bit as I learned the Tampa Bay flats. But, it didn’t take long before frustration set in. Managing a canoe solo while fly fishing is difficult simply because it’s darn near impossible to do two things at once — managing the drift and fishing. You have to stalk the fish, stop the drift, put down your paddle, grab your rod and make the cast — all in a matter of seconds.
I spent much of the spring and summer trying to master these skills. Limited success resulted and eventually winter arrived and I started wading. The Ultimate sat in the garage for months. In fact, I wondered why I even bought it.
Fast forward to this summer when I moved to the Jupiter area. Flats fishing is non existent. It’s intracoastal and rivers. Paddle or perish. So I learned how to paddle and fish at the same time. To do that, you have to know how to paddle —- well. Once I committed to that skill, I was able to fish more effectively, even with a fly rod.
Wading has its benefits. It’s quick and it’s easy. The Ultimate is a bit of a chore. There’s loading and unloading. And it’s more fun to cast wading than it is sitting down or standing in a moving object. But the Ultimate allows you to cover more ground and you get a workout if you’re willing to paddle a few miles.
Honestly, I’d rather walk the beach or wade, but I’m glad I finally mastered enough skill to become confident with the Ultimate. I’m certainly more versatile.
Below is a video from Orvis. It looks easy, but it’s not. Trust me.
Learning a new area is never easy. I just moved to Juno Beach and I’m still trying to figure out where to fish and when. Sometimes, it’s a matter of getting there. Things that I took for granted in Tampa, where I lived for three-plus years, are now a chore. I have to find out where to launch, what the facilities are like and where to paddle once I’m in the water.
So it was earlier this week when I fished near Stuart, about 30 minutes north of my home. I got to the launch just fine. For me, that’s not always been easy. For years, I’ve refused to use a GPS, but finally caved to the notion of using Google Maps on my Iphone. Glad I did. Navigating is a lot less stressful.
I got to the launch a bit late. My friends had already started fishing. One quick phone call and I got an idea of where they were — or at least so I thought. They were in a cut in the mangroves to the South and of course, the wind was howling out of the East, which made for a bear of a paddle across open water. After a 20-minute ordeal, I looked around but couldn’t find the opening.
So I assumed I was wrong about the initial direction and headed north. I found a cut and got out of the wind. My biceps thanked me and I tucked into a cove off to the left and made another phone call. They guys were about 10 minutes away. I got in the main stem of the cut and kept paddling. Didn’t see them. At that point, it was time to quit looking and start fishing. The wind, even when sheltered, was still pretty strong. I got a couple follows but no takes from smallish snook.
Tired of trying to find a quality drift, I headed back. My friends were already at the launch getting ready to pull an afternoon shift at work. By the time, I got back, they were gone.
Once I got home, I took a look at Google Earth and marked my path in the cut to the North. I was sure I had just missed them. Bad timing, I thought. I emailed a photo of the map to confirm.
I was wrong. Dead wrong. They were in a cut to the south. I had just missed it. Maybe I hadn’t gone far enough? I’m not sure. The cut, as it turned out, was fairly small and not obvious, at least not to me.
Nevertheless, I found a new place to fish and had braved the wind, an obstacle that usually stymies me. I didn’t catch a single fish, but strangely enough, I felt vindicated, which marks a bit of personal growth. Before, I would have been frustrated by the lack of fish and not finding where I was supposed to go. This time, I wasn’t. I was happy to get out there and make the best of a less-than-perfect situation. Sometimes it’s not about the number of fish, but rather how well you adapt to fluid circumstances.
Any new place involves a learning curve. In that scenario, expectations have to be lowered. It’s an obvious realization, but it’s taken me years to accept that. Glad I finally did.