Adventures in Florida with the McKay Brothers: Afternoon of Day three

As the morning warmed up to 80 degrees, we sat in the local diner eating breakfast. You could feel the energy in our conversation as we talked about the morning and we went over that huge snook that Tait set the hook way too soon on, but our conversation soon changed to the pancakes due to the size of them. As the kids stuffed their mouths, I was trying to figure what the rest of the day would look like. I figured since we had been up since 3:30 am that they would be done for the day, but they would have none of that! They wanted to fish. Dino suggested a state park not far from our hotel. So we decided to check it out on the way back.



The hard part about fishing the salt or any new fishery is you really don’t know where the fish hold, or will be, or the proper flies. So I had been pretty safe fishing a pink clouser which looks like a shrimp. Up to that point it had produced all our fish. So after we drowned ourselves in sun block, we went exploring. We soon found some mangroves but the boys weren’t too excited about wading in the unknown. They were concerned with sharks and stingrays, so we looked for a beach, which we found but had to cross this long bridge that went over the mud flats. As we walked down toward the beach we talked to an employee of the park. We asked if there were any fish on the beaches and he said there had been some sharks the day before but he hadn’t seen any today. He pointed down the beach and said if we keep walking we would get away from the people. So we walked and walked, maybe a couple of miles.





Way off shore we could see a couple boats and busting fish and on occasion a large fish come out of the water but it was way too far off for us. So we walked and casted but off the beach it was rocky then sandy and we really didn’t feel comfortable wading too far out. Eventually, we found a sandy spot and waded out to our knees and all of a sudden there were busting fish in front of us. I waded out to my waste and made some casts, hooking a small bait fish that put a good bend in my rod and then they were gone. We kept casting and hoping and searching.




Again the the fish started busting just out of casting range but I could see very large fish swimming among them, as they got closer, I yelled “big Sharks!’ and I tied on a bait fish pattern and started casting tot he sharks, not really having a plan if I hooked one. I turned around and saw the boys had moved closer to the beech; I guess they are a lot smarter than me because I waded a little farther out. We kept watching the water and started seeing more and more sharks in closer to us. At one point I looked to my right and saw a 6 foot shark swimming right at me! So I moved back and casted my fly at him, but still no luck. It got kind of freaky when the sun went behind the clouds and we couldn’t see in the water, so we didn’t know where the sharks were. So I hear Jax say, “Dad keep a look out for sharks.” That’s something we don’t need to worry about in Maine .



After a while the sharks moved down the beach to where all the people were and it was almost two. I decided we needed to go get food and relax around the pool. So I tied on the rods a fly that looks like a red piece of meat, in case we came across any more sharks. As we were walking and talking about what has just happened, Jax yells, “Shark!” We looked and there is was 7 foot shark right in the shallow water just milling around looking for food. I told Jax to go for it. He ran down to the water and casts his fly just in front of the shark. The water was crystal clear and we could see it all.

The shark slowly swam over to the fly and ate the fly! Jax did a hook set and the shark shook its head with the fly in its mouth! So in my mind I was thinking, ok now what do we do? Because his rod was only an 8 weight and should be closer to a 12. I had images of the shark heading to deep water with all my fly line in tow, but before I finished that thought, the fly was flying back at me. Even though the shark ate, I didn’t think it was fully in its mouth. He probably should have let the shark turn before he set, but lessons learned when you are fishing a whole new species and environment. If that wasn’t exciting enough we kept walking to where all the people were.



As the tide was going out, it made the water become clearer and clearer, so as we approached the people swimming, we could see sharks behind the people. What did we do? We started running down the beach around the sun worshipers and started stripping out line as we ran. I waded out to waste deep and started casting as the boys and the sun bathers watched in amazement at what we were doing. I have a feeling we were the topic of many conversations that night. The sharks never got close enough for them to eat but it is something I will never forget .

If we weren’t excited from the morning trip, we were then. The boys couldn’t stop talking about how great of a guide Dino was. They were so impressed at his ability to put them on to snook and point us to the beach, but also what a great guy he was. That night as we went to bed early, they still were talking about everything that had happend in one day. It was the first thing they talked about on day four, but that was because were up early to go fish with Dino for snook under the lights, since Tait still had not landed one.