Just finished On the Fly in the Bay, a beginner’s guide to fly fishing Tampa Bay. It’s available via Kindle on Amazon. The print version should be out soon.
Every story should have a point —a theme, a message, a purpose. I suppose it’s the same with a book. The point of this book is to educate those who fly fish Tampa Bay.
It’s not for the expert. If you’re an expert, you probably know —- or should know —- most of this information. What you’re about to read is for the beginner or intermediate fly fisherman. A more seasoned angler can pick up a few tidbits, but might find most of the information redundant.
When I moved to Tampa in 2011, I was primarily a freshwater fly fisherman. I started chasing trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia nearly 30 years ago, but shelved the fly rod when I moved to Florida. Mainly the issue was access. Before Tampa, I lived inland, two hours away from viable saltwater.
Back then, I dabbled, making the occasional trip to Jacksonville or St. Augustine. Success, as expected, was limited and I gradually moved on to other more accessible hobbies – retriever field trials and bird hunting.
My wife’s career led to a family move to Tampa. Only minutes from the salt, my passion for fly fishing surged. I sold my dog training equipment and bought a nice kayak, a Native Ultimate, the one of the first premier stand-up yaks along with the $300 push pole.
I thought I was set. I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t. In fact, the learning curve was extraordinarily frustrating as I stumbled and bumbled around the Bay. I didn’t know when, why or how to fish.
Catching a redfish? Just finding one was a moral victory. I used to scuttle along the shore, barely above ankle deep water in search of backs and tails day after day wondering what I was doing wrong. It looked so easy while watching those Saturday morning outdoors shows where they boated a dozen tailers in a matter of minutes.
So what was I doing wrong? A lot, actually.
I knew, to progress, that I needed knowledge. So I started reading. Every book, every website was on my radar. Very few of them helped. That void served as the purpose of this book, which is to help shorten learning curve and alleviate the frustration that I endured. I suffered. You shouldn’t have to.
This is not to say that this book will ensure angling bliss. Only time on the water does that. I don’t have all the answers. No one does.
I focus primarily on sight fishing. It’s the most rewarding style of angling; it’s also the most difficult. But the potential sense of accomplishment surpasses the challenges along the way. Sight fishing with a fly rod is like golf. Perfection is not possible. Some days birdies flow as spotted tails pierce the gin-clear water; other days, you simply try to scratch out par with a fish or two before the clouds roll in.
A number of folks helped make this endeavor possible. Flip Pallot gave me inspiration after suggesting that I write a book. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t, so I quit making excuses and got with the program.
Others who helped along the way: Tim Boothe, Chris Camuto, Vaughn Cochran, Bob Cramer, Walt Durkin, Spencer Goodwin, Ted Hagaman, Chris Hargiss, Enver Hysni, Evan Jones, Ethan Kiburz, Billy Kingsley, Dayle Mazzarella, Jess McGlothin, Ryan McGue, Parker Rabow, Sam Root, Walt Ruda, Keith Sawyer, Jared Simonetti, Joe Sefchick, Beaver Shriver, Phil Thompson, Joe Welbourn and Leigh West.
I may have forgotten someone. If I have, I apologize. So many people have helped me appreciate fly fishing and all of its life lessons. For that, I’m grateful.