Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tarpon Fly Weekend

i, like everyone else in the area, have "tarpon fever" and even though i don't have any realistic expectations in regards to actually catching one, i've recently been fascinated by the Location X movie. i'm a bit outgunned as it were because i only have an 8 weight...and one needs an 11 or 12 weight to battle a silver king and stand a chance of winning.

So, i started tying up some tarpon flies....both Keys Style and Location X Floaty Fly. Both tested well in the pool.

Looks like my tarpon buddies are going to have some nice flies in a few days.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Swamp Rabbit

i saw these on the Saltwater Fly Fishing website....

Being smack dab in the middle of the tarpon run, i'll be tying up some of these this weekend....

Apparently, snook like them too!

Hook: 2/0 Owner Aki
Thread: Danville flat, waxed nylon
Tail: Rabbit strip over sparse bucktail, both of the same color
Flash: Pearl Flashabou
Body: Wound rabbit strip with Schlappen or wide saddle-hackle collar
Weed guard: #5 Malin Hard Wire (coffee)
Head: Built-up thread with painted eyes

What do you bring when you bring it?

A lot of folks ask me what sort of gear do i bring when fishing the flats?

Answer: As little as possible....but it depends on where we'll be fishing and what sort of fishing.

If we're wading a flat while fly fishing, i take my trusty Cabella's medium chest pack with a small fly box jammed with flies i'll be using or might need, (this is hard), scissors, a few pre-made leaders, face cover and the trusty camera. i keep my tackle bag with everything else handy on shore that has my Evan Longoria batting gloves for those long days casting an 8 weight, a few Nalgene's, pliers, and the big fly box. If we're fly fishing off of a seawall, i'll use a stripping basket and fore go the chest pack and just carry my fly box and scissors in my pocket.

As a rule, i never carry a radio or MP3 player or anything like that because i need to experience the solitude even though we often are "urban fishing" as it were....and we always need to field all of the usual questions.....

"Hey....are you fly fishing?/is that a fly fishing rig?"

"What do you catch in saltwater on flies?/ didn't realize you could fly fish in saltwater"

"Yeah....we used to fly fish for trout up north...."

Yeah, fishing at Coffee Pot Bayou tends to generate other problems too such as making sure your backcast doesn't get snagged on a tree/jogger/cyclist/car, or making sure your child doesn't jump over the gated docks with the "Keep Out" signs all over them to retrieve a miscast lure because those people can be nasty.....but it's a great place to fish because it's full of docks with snook under it's really close to the house.

Sorry to get side tracked....

If i'm fishing with spinning gear, i'll usually carry the whole damned tackle bag with me as it has the box full of plugs and soft plastic lovelies the we all know and love as well as the "idiot rig" gear (corks, hooks, sinkers) and the always popular live bait bucket with air pump as well as leader material, first aid kit and headlamp (this comes in handy at night). If we're fishing from a bridge, we'll oftentimes mix in a floating light.

So....what do YOU bring when you bring it?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DT Special

Everyone seems to like this DT Special fly that i included on my 1st "Fly Photos" blog a few days ago.

Ok, i didn't invent it....but i like to use it and i've received a lot of messages regarding it. It's very easy to tie, versatile and you can add weight, weed guards, eye's or whatever to make it better.

Here is where i got it from:

Here is a different version of it with a big eye:

Have fun and let me know what you catch.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fly Photos

Here are a few of the flies that i like to tie and use to ply the saltwater flats of Florida.

Top left - Double Bunny Mullet - i like to use this pattern when mullet are present. It has 2 zonker strips, bead chain eyes and a peach marabou collar. Size 1/0

Top right - All White Deceiver - Nothing better when the snook are running on the beach. Size 1/0.

2nd left - DT Special - i found this pattern in an issue of Florida Sport Fishing Magazine. i tie it a bit more sparse than the original. All white is good for snook around dock lights at night. It's sort of similar to a Seaducer. Size 1/0

2nd right - Bigeye Majora - A white bait similar to a herring. Size 1/0

3rd left - Big Eye Deceiver - i tied this for Barracuda in the Keys. It's pretty hefty and has a lot of material. i tied it in Chartreuse and White with a lot of Krystal Flash and thought the big eye might give it that little extra appeal. Size 3/0.

3rd right - Red Cockroach - This is a tarpon pattern mostly....but i made them 1/0 for snook and redfish on the flats. i like to tie these in brown with grizzly marabou, white and chartreuse too. Size 1/0

4th left - Red Seaducer - An all around versatile for the salt. Trout seem to like the way it hovers in the water column. Size 2/0

4th right - Mini Bunny - Smaller version of the Double Bunny Mullet. Size 4.

5th left - Clouser Light - i tied some Clousers with bead chain eyes for skinny water in the, with my horrid casting style, i don't have to worry about nailing myself or the rod so much. Size 1

5th right - Red/White Deceiver - A good backcountry pattern for the big 3. Size 1/0

Let me know what you think......

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Upcoming Post

Today, i'm taking photos of some flies i've made recently since a lot of folks want to see the flies i tie and i have neglected to include photos of some of my work....even though the photo at the top of my page is mine....if anyone wants the recipe for any of these flies, please let me know.... i'll be glad to tell you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canoe Camping

After reading Ken's blog at Upstream, i've got a hankering to go canoe camping....much like the cartoon unidentified piece of food on the animated after school special about "hankering for a hunk a cheese".....

Alas, there are few places to do this in Florida however, the few places are very nice indeed with miles of unspoiled territory and secluded hide aways.....

But Mama and i are moving July 1st to more affordable digs so maybe after that? We have a canoe and all of the camping gear so why not? Plus, think of all the fishin' that could be done on a trip like that although it will be fresh water only.

One of my favorite spots to do this is at Wakiva Springs State Park -
It's a 5 mile pristine spring run with twists and turns and a few primitive campsites upstream from the launch site. There are a few spots along the way where the canoe has to be pulled through as the water is too shallow to accommodate a loaded boat with 2 well as some super small and tight s curves....

The campsites are nice and primitive with a fire ring right in the middle of the site (why right in the middle of the site?) Bring your own water for all of your water needs unless you want to filter the spring....

Largemouth bass inhabit the fallen trees and stumps along the entire length of the spring run and can be had with relative ease when fishing during low light situations.

The only issue that i had with this place was several times during my stay, hikers would wander into our site unannounced....could have had quite a surprise if they had wandered by my favorite cat hole while i was paying it a visit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


One of our favorite activities that we haven't really done for whatever reason is backpacking in the backcountry. We can technically go out for 5 days without resupply.

We went out to Hillsborough River last Memorial Day weekend...hardly the alpine forests and mountains that we really need to see.

This is the story of my first time out, and the things i learned from that trip.

i once had a friend who used to fly all over the place to see bands. So i figured she might meet me in Denver for a 4 day backpacking trip at Rocky Mountain National Park. Found a flight from here to there for a good price and booked it, only to find out that my friend backed out. Undeterred, i forged on, found a shuttle service to take me from Denver airport to Estes Park area....frickin' thing cost more than my flight and of course, the driver thought i was crazy doing this on my own....and had no hotels involved.....the rangers were concerned as well but checked out my permit and copied my expected itinerary and pointed me to the trail was drizzling.

The humorous part when looking back is some of the things that i packed and didn't use like a hatchet, too much clothing, tools, MP3 player ect..... my pack weighed in at a whopping 52 lbs....(it's refreshing to know that when i go now, the pack only weighs in at 33 lbs).

i was amazed the first time that i actually looked over the ridge and into the valley that i was hiking along....i took it easy the first day because the altitude was kicking my ass, i had a screaming headache and i was experiencing different weather patterns as the altitude increased/decreased....the first big elevation gain was around 900 feet in little less than 1/4 mile....tough but manageable. (little did i know that this one was just a baby).

i'm not sure how far i went that first day....but i arrived at the first campsite an hour before "official sunset", but little did i know that it starts getting dark when the sun goes behind the mountains....also, when i went for water the first time, i had found that the button on my purifier (MSR MIOX) had gotten pressed continually in my pack and the battery was dead. Good thing i had spares or i would have been in trouble that soon into a 4 day trip....Had a nice meal of Backpackers Pantry....purified water for the following day, listened to some horny elk trumpeting like a T-Rex (this is spooky) and watched the stars. It was an incredible experience to see the jet black sky and so many stars that it felt like being in space. Outside of the elk bellowing from time to time, it was the first time that i experienced "the silence" ( the deafening silence where the crunching leaves of your footfalls make your ears ring). and have only been close to it a few times since then....the all enveloping a grave or a mothers hug.

The next day, i awoke early (time zone in my favor), fixed some backpackers pantry granola cereal (they call it something's good but expensive) and walked along the shore of the pond next to Flattop Mountain, took some photos of the fog/clouds spilling over the side of the mountain and across the pond, got my bearings, and headed south east towards Hallet Peak and Timberline Falls a few miles away....

The only other thing of note that happened on this trip was on day 2, there was a newly fallen tree blocking the trail along the ridge line and the only way around was going around it on the forest side, or going around it on the ridge line stupid me chooses to hang my ass over the side of the mountain to go around the tree and proceed to fall down the shale and granite mountain side about 40 feet. Didn't break anything but ripped my pants and my knee really good. Found out then that my cell phone didn't work. Would have been there another 2 days before i was listed as overdue....but i had all of my gear with me so i would have been ok to lay there with broken legs for a few

Covered close to 70 miles in those 4 days....made it back to the rangers station before the shuttle arrived to pick me up....flew home.....never felt better to take a shower when i arrived home.

Wish we could find a place to hike like that and end up in the Keys fly fishing.......

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crease Fly issues

i'm having issues making crease flies! Working with this foam stuff is quite a challenge.....having issues getting it all to stick on the hook properly.

What a great fly for snook! i have a few that work really well and cast quite nice.

i've made a few test runs and they look like crap....hopefully i'll get this pattern sorted out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Wave

No, this is not in reference to the little courtesy wave people are supposed to give when you let them out into traffic.....

Just a bit of "Trash Can Wisdom".

i've been taking a class on leadership development (not by my choice mind you) through my place of employment. One thing that i've learned in the 56 hours is something the instructor touched on during today's class about using humor when facing adverse situations (which i do but people don't usually think i'm funny).....

"Life is a wave"

This is something that i've realized for quite some time.....there are great times and then there are periods where it seems like the world is conspiring against you.

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the high points and hopefully it will give you the strength and ability to get through the low ones....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What really matters.....

One thing that you may not know about me is that i was in the music business....for almost 25 years!

Every once in a while, i'll run into someone that i used to know and they'll ask what i'm doing and are usually shocked when i tell them that i'm retired from the music business totally.

i'm quite alright with my retirement from "the biz". i was able to accomplish a lot more than most musicians. It's taken me all over the world and given me the opportunity to meet loads of great people, travel, eat great food, stay in luxurious accommodations as well as live out of the trunk of a car, partake in some of the greatest beer ever made, experience a high level of camaraderie with bandmates/crew, and being able to experience other cultures, working with Grammy winning producers, being part of the creative process......these are the things that i miss about not being in "the biz".....but i can handle that.

After much personal sacrifice, a lot of hard work and dedication, and a lot of heatbreak, i can safely say that i'm happy not being in the biz any longer. Gone are the days of driving 3 counties 4 times a week for rehearsal, being your singers roadie, hauling too much gear for a gig up 4 flights of stairs in NY, washing my passport in my pants pocket and finding the dryer, hashing out contracts and money deals with attorneys and merchandise dealers, putting together tours with your own money when your record company goes out of business, and spending money to put together a great band, a great demo, and all the potential in the world and watch it go down the tubes due to laziness, spending 18 hours in a small New Mexico town while your tour bus is being repaired, driving 12 hours to a gig, playing the gig and driving another 12 hours to the next gig right after the previous one was finished....6 weeks in a row. These are the things that i don't miss about the biz....

It really took the wind out of my sails when the band went down the tubes.....only to do it all over again 6 months later with another band. i went through a deep depression after that. The thing that pulled me out of it was being reminded by my mom of my love for the was the the thing that saved my life.....

So.....thanks Mom for reminding of what really matters.....i know i don't get to see you very much, but i think about you all the time. i'm very happy with how things turned out and am in a great place now.....just think, if i was still a part of "the biz", i wouldn't be with Mama and be in the happy place i am's what really matters.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Book Review

This was a busy Mothers Day weekend so i didn't get to tie any flies or go fishing.....but i did purchase and read this book cover to cover.

Fly Fisherman's Guide to Saltwater Prey by Aaron J Adams, Ph.D

i'm quite familiar with the author and have read several articles on various websites as well as his own. He was referred to me by Capt. Pat and i have to tell you, i was impressed.....a marine biologist who fly fishes.

What i do have to say is this; the articles i read pale in comparison to this book. Apparently, this book is supposed to be a compliment to his other book "Fisherman's Coast" which i'll need to pick up because i read this one in one sitting.

In the book, Adams covers the prey of most saltwater gamefish....not only what, but where and when (not a whole lot of when....but some) and how much of these prey items are found in predators stomachs, many fly patterns to imitate the prey species, photos of the bait and the flies as well as decent tying instructions and comments about how to fish them. (i mean, when Jack Gartside and Dave Skok are tying flies for your book, and Marshall Cutchin is advising you while you're writing it, sort of puts into perspective how good Aaron Adams is for the sport and demonstrates that he knows what he's talking about).

What most saltwater fly fishermen don't realize is what trout stream fisherman have know for eons.....match the hatch, hatch charts and insect and prey "schedules". This book provides a good portion of the needed information.

The flies selected to represent the prey are quite good and the tying instructions are excellent....

This book is just what i was looking for and is a book that should be within easy reach of every fly caster who plies the salt however, i wish Dr. Adams had included a bit more information about time of year, frequency and location gamefish eat said prey.....but i'm told that information is in Dr. Adams other book, "Fisherman's Coast".

Friday, May 8, 2009

Great Fly Box In The Sky

i've often wondered.....what do fly tiers do with flies that fish have torn up or with flies that didn't really turn out so good? Is one supposed to "recycle" them by cutting off the shredded materials and keeping the hook and dumbell eyes? Is one supposed to toss them into the dustbin like an empty beer bottle? Or do veteran fly tiers have boxes full of shredded bucktail, foam bodies, and dangly eyes? Do they still have the first fly they tied? What about the bad design flaws? The failed attempts? Or do they just go to some great fly box in the sky?

i have a small box with the first fly that i tied ( a chartreuse and white deceiver with WAY too much material and lopsided and losing hair like i did when i was 27) as well as a few failed attempts and just plain ugly flies. i've buggered up a fair share of flies on the first attempt and i usually end up trying to salvage as much as i can from it ( hooks and eyes). And i can safely say that there are way more failed flies than flies that fish have wrecked.

So maybe it's a bad luck thing to keep these bad works of art....these wads of feathers and hair that will NEVER be attached to the business end of a tippet....Maybe the fly fishing gods frown on relishing in my skill and futility.....but i quite enjoy getting a laugh or sigh out them when i open the great fly box of failure..........

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ken and the great herds of hermit crabs

Yesterday, i had the good fortune of taking Ken Morrow from Upstream ( on his first trip to what is known as the "darkside" which is saltwater flyfishing.

We arrived at Honeymoon Island State Park a few minutes before they opened. i had planned on taking Ken out to fish for snook on the beach however, the wind was right in our face and i'm not talking about a light sea breeze. We tried the beach but couldn't see anything (the water clarity was muddy in the swash channel) so we hiked out to Pelican Bay in hopes of getting out of the wind and finding a nice flat...which we did. A section of the trail leading out to Pelican Bay was closed due to a Bald Eagle nest so we found our way to the flat and saw loads of bait in the water, tied up, and proceeded into the brine. Spooked a few nice snook on the way in, endured a series of snook "drive by's" and blew out several overslot redfish.

The tide came and went. Saw lots of "herds" of hermit crabs that resembled a moving dark brown carpet along the shore, a rosy spoonbill, and the always dreaded Ken casting to a tailing mullet ( i won't least he saw it.)

Was a great day out there and Ken definitely did his homework and knows what he's doing out there.

Can't wait to take Mama.......

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Headset Guy

"You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity. " — Bullet Tooth Tony

In case you were wondering what i do when not camping, fishing, tying flies or blogging, i work for a local city/state government utility. i've pretty much done everything in said utility department in the almost 10 years since i've been employed there from reading meters, taking payments, shutting off water and gas due to non-payment, and now, answering the phone.

i'm the headset guy....the smiling face on the other end of the phone (or at least it sounds like it)....the guy in the commercials who loves helping people (not entirely untrue), the voice who sounds like a cross between the TV weather man and the baseball play by play guy, the friendly guy who can make you feel good about the $500.00 water bill you just received, the smooth voice who can't actually do too much for you due to laws, codes, and rules.

i know....i know....i'm sure you expected me to work in a muffler shop next to where they put on the mower show every year.....

i'm making it sound as if i hate my job; i don't. i have it pretty easy at my desk every day. i'm not looking to run the place. i'm quite happy with the way things are.....i get to blog or tie flies when it's slow, do my job well when it's busy and i have a great boss who pretty much leaves me alone unless i really cause a problem, and when i cause a problem, it's usually due to my own stupidity and lack of restraint. i have this sarcastic, biting wit that comes out when i'm dealing with stupid people (think of Dr. House).

Here are a few examples:

"What forms of payment do you take over the phone?"

"We accept Visa, Mastercard or check by phone."

"You don't take American Express?"

"Oh yes....of course....but only if it has a Visa or Mastercard logo on it."

Not really a big deal....but answering stupid questions like this ALL day long can wear down one's patience.

"What are your hours of operation?"

"We're open Monday thru Friday.....8 am to 5 pm."

"Are you open on Saturdays?"

"Yes....when they change the calendar and switch Wednesdays and Saturdays, we'll be open on Saturday."


"Hold on....let me check" ~ customer on hold for 10 minutes ~ "Ok Ma'am thanks for Saturdays as we're closed ."

"Why did you leave me on hold for so long?"

"Because i had to check to see if Saturday was included in Monday thru Friday.....sometimes, they like to change the calendar on me."

And the best one ever....

"You can't shut off my water....i have a child on a respirator."

"Oh....does your child breathe water?"

These are just a few reasons why i've gotten into a bit of hot water as it were.....i'm a lot better now though....have learned to exercise a bit of restraint and put on my best TV weather guy voice. Stupid people don't get on my nerves as they used to.

i know that if i keep my sarcasm under control, show up for work every day, do a good job while i'm here, then i have nothing to worry about....

"Can i talk to someone with a little more clout than a headset guy?"

Eeeeeesh.....just breathe Papa.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ea Sports NHL 2009 game

i just thought that i'd pimp my favorite new game on PS 2.

Up until i bought a used version of this game, the last one i had played was NHL 2000 by EA sports.....holy crap! Keith Jones and Rick Tocchet were still in the league.....AS PLAYERS! Bill Clement did the play by play along with Daryl Raye. i don't buy myself games very often, but when i do, i certainly get a lot of miles out of them....i play them a long time and why shouldn't i if i like them right?
i'm also still playing Grand Theft Auto III, Medal of Honor 2 and Call to Duty...

I've always been happy with EA Sports games, the attention to detail, great gameplay and constant improvements for the better are what i come to expect from this franchise....and this version of the game doesn't disappoint.

A few years back, they had changed what all of the buttons on the contoller it was like never playing it before. You'd have to learn it all over again in order to play it. Not good! In this edtion, they give you the option of using an even newer button scheme or configuring all of the controls yourself which is a great option for me to be able to play the game. Also, a big thumbs up to the new "Dynasty Mode". No, this isn't a Joan Collins spin-off, it allows you to play a franchise and manage every aspect of day to day operations such as General Manger duties, coach, and various front office duties. You'll also have to keep all of your players happy with the right amount of ice time, make trades, keep everything under the salary cap, adjust practice schedule and so on....

The gameplay is smooth and what is to be expected from an EA Sports platform, you can change lines, adjust strategy, and ask for open ice support from other players all during gameplay.

One thing i don't like is since i have it set on easy mode for now, i can score a lot of goals but also have a lot of goals scored against me.....i'm not crazy about winning games 10-8. Maybe if i bump up the difficulty level , the defense and goaltending might just show

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Long Key Part 3

Day 3 Started out with Mama and i getting up early to see the sun rise, eat a nice camping breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon, then we loaded up the fishing gear and headed out for Marathon. There was a bait store there that i wanted Mama to see. It's called Captain Hooks located right at Vaca Cut in Marathon.

Several years ago, i had spent a week in Marathon on a fishing trip with my buddy Chad. All we did was launch the boat at first light and come back in at dark, fishing the whole time. We had located a rolling pod of tarpon at Vaca Cut. We would cast our big Mirrolures at them and they would follow them all the way back to the boat without taking. Was an awesome site to behold.

One thing about Captain Hooks that i always loved was the outdoor pond stocked with tarpon, snook, bonefish and grouper. This time, they had about a half a dozen 30 lb tarpon, a large red grouper and a HUGE snook that looked to be even bigger than the tarpon. We got several shots of these magnificent fish the went into the bait shop to get some squid. We checked out the fishing spot under the bridge at Vaca Cut but forgot that we had bought ice for the cooler so decided to take the ice back to the cooler then go fishing.

After dropping off the ice to the cooler, we went back to "the hole". My idea was to use squid to catch some smaller fish for bait, then put the bait on the big game rod and get something bigger. i was having a heck of a time catching a smaller fish as they kept stealing the bait but after a while, i caught a hand sized pinfish, put it on the big game rig and just waited. Mama was at the other end of the hole using squid to try to catch something too. She had waded out to the flat but wasn't having any luck there either. After waiting 45 minutes for the big hit and using an assortment of DOA shrimp, Mirrolures and spoons, we decided to pack it in, free the pinfish and get the snorkeling gear out.

The weather was hot and the clear water looked so refreshing and inviting. Mama's mask strap broke so as i sat at the waters edge, waiting for her to fix it, i noticed some brightly colored tropical looking fish flitting about around my swim fins. i had an uneasy feeling about swimming in the same hole we had just had live bleeding bait and squid in. As we drifted around the middle of the hole, i could feel cold water upwelling. There wasn't a single fish of any kind to be found. It had occurred to me that the hole could possibly be a freshwater spring and it might be brackish. A lot of fish are picky about the salinity level in the water they're swimming in, so that might explain why there was no fish in the hole. i did see several nice sized mangrove snapper along the outer edge of the hole where the limestone met the edge of the flat. As i was exploring the reef edge, Mama had swam out onto the flat. Later she described to me a fish that she had been face to face with, looking at each other. It was a 20 inch redfish.
i kept getting the uneasy feeling and Quint's USS Indianapolis speech from the movie Jaws kept replaying in my head....

"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We'd just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin' by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and sometimes that shark he go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn't even seem to be livin'... 'til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin' and your hollerin' those sharks come in and... they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin', Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol' fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945."

....i was very uneasy about swimming in this hole that we had just been fishing in with live i decided that i had better get out while i still had all of my limbs left....something about the area plus the number of bull sharks in our waters....i don't know. But i do know that it's a wise thing to follow my gut instinct.

We packed up and went back to the campsite, had lunch and waded out on the flat with our snorkeling gear. Was very serene just drifting around the flat.....savoring the different little ecosystems that we don't get to see everyday

Mama decided to lay down and take a nap and i wanted to take a shower and relax a bit. When i got back to the campsite, i put some charcoal in the fire ring and started a fire. We had fixed a nice fire the night before and, due to the wind feeding the small vent in the back of the fire ring, found it quite easy to have a hot fire. We had brats and potato salad and yams, as well as a few Hurricane Reefs, walked the beach, took some photos and just enjoyed the scenery. We found a dead bonnet head shark that got trapped in the shallows at low tide as well as some really nice pieces of driftwood that i wished that i had seen earlier to take photos of my gear on ( i get artsy fartsy with the camera when i'm not fishing)

Watched "Running With Scissors" on the laptop after the sun went down, watched the stars and contemplated how sad we would be tomorrow when we'd have to pack up and leave.....the wind had died down and found it easy to drift off to sleep....

Was awakened at around 2 am by what felt like rain....looked up and didn't see any stars.....UH OH! "Mama? IT'S STARTING TO RAIN AGAIN!" Mama...."ok". Around 3:30, Mama woke me up to tell me it was raining.....couldn't find my headlamp....running around trying to frantically put everything in the Jeep.....only to stop raining right when we got everything put away (you'd think that we'd know to do this ahead of time by now huh?)

Got up at sunrise and started packing up the gear. Mama told me to go fishing one more time and she'd take care of the campsite but i couldn't let THAT happen.

Check out around 9:30, drove up to the 1935 Hurricane Memorial in Islamorada,(a post on this coming soon) had breakfast at a mom and pops place, hit a few souvenir shops and headed home. Stopped at the Bass Pro Shops near Naples (spent 2 hours in there) and arrived home around 7pm.

Was a great trip and i'd recommend it to anyone who likes camping and fishing. It's my favorite spot we've been to so far but if there was one thing i'd change about it, it would be the traffic on US 1 in such close proximity to the campsite.....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Long Key Part 2

Since i crapped out on loading up my photos last night, i'll have to post with no pics right now and add them later.....The Rays were on and Garza pitched a perfect game up to the 7th inning....take that Baston (what's with this "Red Sox Nation" crap? Where was...."The Nation" when ya'all were stinking the joint up for 80 plus years between World Series victories?)

i'm an early riser and since we usually go to bed early when we're camping, we usually get up early too. This time was no different. i didn't really sleep too well due to the wind shaking the tent all night and the traffic on US 1 rushing by so, i got up with the first sign of the graying sky that proceeds the rising sun....told Mama that the sun was getting ready to come up and she groggily replied "uh...ok...." Fired up the backpacking stove and got some coffee going. For some reason French Press coffee tastes so good when we're camping....not sure why....but Mama got up in time to get her cup and her camera and start shooting the beautiful sunrise. There were some darker clouds in the distance and we could see rain. Mama said "look at those rain clouds Papa" and i replied "weather report said no chance of rain". Sure enough, withing 10 minutes, it started sprinkling and of course we didn't have the rainfly on the tent so we started scrambling around trying to get things stowed and the rainfly on (which was hard due to the gale force winds). And of course as soon as we get everything stowed, it stopped raining....

Mama fixed a nice camping breakfast which was an egg and cheese sandwich on health nut bread....mmmmmmm..... and orange juice.

We grabbed our flyrods and headed out to the flat at our campsite. The tide was coming in but wasn't expected to be high until around 1:00 so it was the perfect time for bonefish. Water clarity was excellent but spotting fish was going to be next to impossible with the whipped up water surface. We were rigged up for bonefish with 10 lb tippets and natural color Crazy Charlies. i decided to switch to a Sweet Ernie ( in hot pink/crystal sparkle chenille on a #4 Mustad that i had tied up right before we left on Sunday....only had time to tie one but i had my vice and materials with me. Decided to blind cast with the wind to my back so at least my forward cast would get to where it was supposed to....i figured i'd take 3 or 4 casts in a fan sort of pattern and then move up the flat about a full casts worth and start over. Current wasn't really a factor. There were some nice grassy patches as well as some sand holes and muddy sections with marl.

So we were working parallel to the beach with Mama out about 20 yards further than me and sure enough, i got a take on my 3rd cast.....was a lot of slack on that cast due to the wind and waves so it took off at light speed about 20 feet before i knew he was on it. and spit it before i could get the hook in it....had to be a bonefish though because of how fast it moved. Surprised that it didn't run into Mama on the way out. Tore the fly up by destroying the tail....

Hit myself in the back with with flies all day long and Mama actually impaled herself in the side with one.

After a few hours of no real action (a polite way of saying we caught bugger all) we went across the street and started fishing the flat next to "the hole". i was still using the flyrod but Mama had switched to the spinning gear and shrimp. She wasn't getting anything but bait robbers and i wasn't having any action either so we moved to "the hole" and weren't having any luck there too.
We went back to the campsite around lunchtime and found that the wind was taking a toll on the tent in a very bad way. It's a dome style tent and the way it works is to fasten the long floppy poles to a series of short metal posts at the base of the tent. These are held together by a metal ring. Well, the metal ring looked more like a fish hook, the posts were missing as was the stake to hold it down....more rain sprinkles, Mama rigged it up with some rope and i tied it to the wood fencing surrounding the campsite to secure it. Mama piled some rocks at the base of the poles for good measure. It was a major screw up on my part because i wanted the big window on the tent facing the water and in doing so, had pointed the part without windows at the wind, so it was really taking a beating.....if we had pointed the window at the wind, it might have made it easier on the tent. (here we go with the physics again.....) So between the rope, Mama's rig job, and the rocks, we were hoping the tent would hold up.....sort of like an episode of Star Trek..."Scotty!.....i to keep......the ship togetheraslong CAN Bones, Spock come with me....."

We ate more rotisserie chicken and tortillas and split a Hurricane Reef. Mama took a nap and i tied a few flies.....

Will the tent and weather hold up? Will our hero's catch something that swims?

Tune in next time........