We were beat after being up so early and fishing in the hot sun for hours. So after kicking back by the pool we decided to go to bed early. While sitting around the pool, I gave the kids the option to drive up and do Disney for a day or head to the Keys. I told them one of my clients lived there and we might be able to go fishing on his boat, but worst case, we would fish some flats. The boys said to head to the Keys and that we were there to fish. As we were discussing this my cell went off, a text from Dino,”What are you doing tomorrow?” Want to fish in the morning? I want to get Tait on a snook since he has gotten one yet.” That was an easy decision. Snook in the morning and Islamarada in the afternoon!
Again we were up early meeting Dino in the dark, but he let us sleep in an extra hour. We were fired up to get a second chance for Tait to get a snook, but it wasn’t going to be that simple. It was a totally different day. The snook were there, but they were closed lipped. We could see them under the lights but they just wouldn’t eat; the moon fish and little jacks were willing but not the snook. What was amazing for me to watch was that Jax sat there patiently waiting and I know it was hard for him, but he gave his brother the chance to get a snook. Just like the day before, it was a beautiful morning the sun came up and we switched to poppers for busting snook but they never showed up in numbers like the day before. We still had a great morning and did have some shots at snook, but we just couldn’t get them to eat. We had a great time with Dino: www.onlyonafly.com, this just meant we needed to get back down to fish with him again, so Tait can get a shot at that big snook!
We all grabbed breakfast, thanked Dino and headed south to Islamorada. The kids took the opportunity to sleep as it was a two hour trip, but as soon as we hit the Keys I woke them up. I remember the first time I saw the flats and ocean from the first bridge driving in the Keys. I found it to be an amazing sight.
As we drove, I found the feel to be modern mixed in with the old way. A lot of the homes had the old feel and look but we would drive by a Burger King or Starbucks. I enjoy the communities that have kept most of the old feel, slow way or pace. I think that is why I really like Everglade City. On the drive I contacted a friend and client, John, who lives in Islamorada who had offered to take us out on his boat for Tarpon.
We soon settled in and hit the local fly shop; a must when traveling with a fly rod. Local knowledge is the best way to find out what the fishing is like. Then we went in search of John’s house. His place sat on a channel and he had his boats anchored in the back yard, something I can only dream about. As we waited for him to get stuff ready, the boys found fish under the boats, so of course tried to catch them. As they were doing this, two 100 lb tarpon swam by and several smaller ones. This only heightened the excitement.
The cool thing about fishing with John was that he was not a fly fisherman and the boys got to experience a different way of fishing. We used heavy rods with bait caster reels and with live mullet drifting in the current as the tide came in. We weren’t there long before a rod was doubled over. John handed Tait the rod and Tait looked at me said,”I don’t know how to reel this!” I chuckled and John showed him how to fight and land a three foot barracuda. After rigging and casting out another mullet, a boat pulled up below us. They tossed into he water what looked like a big dead fish and then cast out a big piece of meat from a fish. Not long after we heard them hollering and looked a couple hundred feet away, a huge tarpon came out of the water and they unanchor and chase the huge fish. It was great entertainment while we waited on our rods.
John started checking our baits and realized one was stuck on bottom and walked to the front of the boat trying to free it. He told me I couldn’t get it unhooked so I grabbed the line and pulled and could feel it slowly move. John checked the line again and told Jax, “I think we have your shark!” So Jax started fighting this 6 foot plus shark, which at times I had to hold onto him so he didn’t go overboard. It was pretty exciting as we got it up beside the boat and I was determined to get it in the boat, but the shark had another idea, so it never happened. We never did get a tarpon, but that meant we would be back next year and maybe do it on a fly.
We had a great night and very much appreciated John taking the time to get the boys out. It was an evening they would never forget for the rest of their lives .