After a two hour ride from Naples to North Palm, the blue pool and cold Corona sounded very inviting. The boys took the ride to their advantage and slept most of the way. It is amazing they fly out of bed to go fishing, but takes us almost pulling them out of bed to go to school. I guess it is the same way for me with work and fishing. I will get up at 1:00 in the morning to drive three hours to fish but I find it painful to get up at 6am to go to work. On the way, I talked to Dino of: http://www.onlyonafly.com , to confirm our trip in the morning and to see what we would be fishing for. If you remember, I fished with him last year and we went 5 miles off shore for allies, but this year we were going for snook under the lights, which was exciting because we had never fished for them other than in Naples. It would be a whole new experience, which is what this trip was about.
After a few hours in the pool and me having a couple of Coronas, we needed to go to bed. We were meeting our guide at 4:30 am, so we needed to get up at 3:30 to make sure I got coffee and the boys got water and some food. We arrived only minutes before Dino and our gear was out of the car. He had the boat in the water and we were off. We didn’t travel very far and he pointed out a dock light and in the light there were many snook. The trick was not to spook them; if the line went across them they would recede to the dark. The casts weren’t that long but the fly placement was key. I let the boys take turn after turn and Dino was amazed at their ability for kids. Don’t get me wrong, it does take some getting use to, but they soon adapted.
We spent the morning having endless shots at snook, light after light. The air temp was almost 70 degrees, a nice break from our Maine winter. Among the snook were other fish and often if your fly made it out of the light, a different fish would grab the fly like small jacks and moon fish. Tait was able to land a very large moon fish, which was very cool looking and gave a good fight. So, it just made it very exciting on every cast; you just never knew what fish you would hook into.
The morning flew by. Before we knew it the sun was rising and the water started to explode with large Jack and big snook chasing mullet. Mullet are the fish you see flying out of the water every where. As a fisherman from Maine, the first time I saw this I looked around for a hatch but of course there was none. So I casted to them anyways to only learn they eat plankton or insect larva. It was so hard to hook them on a shrimp pattern. Dino said we were seeing everything his fishery had to offer from dock light fishing in the morning and busting fish as the sun rose.
At times the water would explode with mullet flying out of the water as a big snook chased them. The excitement in the boat was overwhelming with two young kids casting in different directions. Dino was very patient with them and kept chasing them until Jax was in the right place at the right time. We were only feet away when a big snook exploded right beside the boat. With Dino’s direction and Jax having the ability to follow direction and fish, he was able to hook into and land a snook around 30 inches. This was no easy task, because we were in tight quarters, palm trees and boat behind us and a fish only a few feet away. Plus, these fish are known to break you off on docks because that is the first place they head, so the skills of a good guide and fisherman were essential.
So up to this point Tait has landed everything except a snook, and Dino was set on getting him on one. When the fish began settling down, we headed to places Dino had caught big snook before. We got in position on a long dock. Dino directed Tait to cast along the end and retrieve the popper in a steady motion, no pauses,get the fish excited. All of a sudden from under the dock was a wake, a very large wake. Tait kept the retrieve up; pop, pop, pop, pop. The fish moved left away from the fly and then turned right and headed straight for it. The next thing that happened, I knew we had all done. I remember this large open mouth with the popper in the center of it, an image the four of us will have forever and all of the sudden it is pulled from the mouth before it has time to eat! The three of us all turn and look at Tait and the Dino looks at me with a expression of what just happened?!!!! Tait got so excited that he set the hook before the fish got to eat; we have all done it. I did it on my first shot at tarpon, a memory I will never forget and I know this is something Tait will never forget. I think sometimes these are the fish we love the most because they get etched in out brains for a lifetime.
Of course Jax being the younger brother, made sure he put salt in the wound all day but soon Jax was going to learn what is was like to loose a monster fish and it would be Tait’s turn to pour some salt on Jax.
This all happened from 5 to 9. And there is way more stuff that went on, from me hooking a nice snook to us hooking docks. There are smells and sights I just can’t describe. The best way for you really to understand the experience is to look Dino: http://www.onlyonafly.com up the next time you are in the West palm area.