Have you ever set a goal for yourself? Something you hoped to accomplish, whether it be work related or personal. Something that challenges you, things that make you better in your life? I find as a fisherman we have goals to catch different species or a certain size fish. Well, for the last two years in April I have taken my boys to Florida to fish for anything we could get to eat a fly. On both trips we have had the pleasure to fish with Dino of http://onlyonafly.com, guide service out of Jupiter Florida.
The fist time down was amazing. Jax got a 30” snook and Tait had many great shots. He even had a shot at a snook over 40” but it kept eluding him. Tait caught many other fish with Dino but not the fish he was after. April of 2016 wasn’t any different from 2015. The snook were everywhere and Jax and I both got into them. Tait had luck with every other type of fish but a snook. Not saying he didn’t have them on, he just couldn’t seem to land them.
On our second day in Florida, we met Dino at 4 am at the boat launch in Jupiter. Dino’s goal was to put Tait on a snook. So Jax and I would have to hold tight and watch Tait take shot after shot at the dock lights. This is a really cool way to fish. I absolutely love fishing the salt before the sun comes up into the early morning. In April it is only in the 70’s but coming from the cold winter weather in Maine, 70 plus degrees is an incredible feeling. At that time of the day, you can really smell the salt. It’s as if your senses at heightened.
Almost every dock we pulled up to had snook lights and every dock had a pile of snook feeding on bait. It’s pretty cool creeping within casting distance to the fish while people are sound asleep in their giant houses only a few hundred feet from you.
Tait is a teenager so the pressure of having a guide, Jax and myself watching him must have been huge. Plus he really wants to catch a snook. The fist dock we pull up to Dino calls “the college”. The fish are educated and tough there. Tait gets a couple good casts in and then hooks the dock. This spot is done after retrieving the fly. Tait set a new record that night for hooking docks. I think it was at least 10. It’s hard to see your fly line when casting in the dock lights so judging distance can be difficult. Over shooting the fish and hitting the dock is easy to do.
We pull up to the second dock and the fish are stacked up looking straight at the dock. this is a tough cast. Casting too far will drop your line across their backs and spook the group, but if you don’t get it close enough, they won’t see it. Tait has to throw the fly down the side of them and hope it’s close enough. He makes a beautiful cast and is stripping the fly back. We can see a few fish moving towards the fly, then out of nowhere, comes a dark shadow and Tait is hooked up! This fish isn’t in the 20” range but much bigger. The fish instantly makes a run down the side of the boat towards the bow. Tait and Dino run down the boat trying to keep some control. Tait regains control and starts getting some line in when the fish spooks and takes off for the back of the boat. Tait can’t move fast enough to catch up with the fish before it goes under the boat and cuts the fly line on the motor. All that excitement and still no fish. Needless to say, Tait was frustrated and wanted to take a break.
We fished the rest of the morning but Tait never hooked up with another snook. He did, however, continue hooking docks. Jax and I were lucky enough to get one more but I will say this, we hooked our fair share of docks that morning as well.
We planned to rent a boat in Islamorada on Friday but it was going to be very windy. We decided to cancel the boat rental and traveled up the state, enjoying a relaxing day. That was until Dino called Thursday night asking what our plans were for Friday. He said he had a guy out the night before that couldn’t cast half as good as the boys and he got into 20 snook. He wanted to get Tait on his first snook. Our plans were set, we would meet Dino Friday night at 9 pm.
On the way back up, I called my buddy to get directions to his old neighborhood. I knew there would be peacock bass in the ponds. We drove around checking each pond. We were sure to check the shallows as this is their spawning time. The fish were tough but still a lot of fun. Tait was able to get a small one before it was time to head north to meet Dino.
Dino said it was the same game as in the morning but this time we were going straight to where the guys got their 20. We pulled up and could see a large group of snook feeding on bait fish. They were everywhere it seemed. You could almost feel it in the air, something was different. Tait was ready on the bow of the boat as Dino put it into position. Everything is dark and quiet. You can feel and hear the fly line cut through the air. The cast was spot on! The fly landed right in the middle of them and with two strips Tait was on!
The fish wasn’t a monster but the strength of these fish is amazing. Tait fought it perfectly and got it into the boat. After a few quick pictures and many high fives, it was back into the salt for someone else to catch. Tait’s excitement was quite visible. He wouldn’t stop talking. He kept reliving that fish. He was done fishing and laid down in the boat with a big smile on his face. It was great that we were all apart of that. It’s an experience none of us will ever forget.
The drive home was spent laughing and talking about the many memories made that week. There were many parts of that trip we won’t soon forget but I think the one that will forever be in our minds is when Dino made a few cast that night and hooked the dock. The boys faces lit up and we were all a little relieved to know that even someone as good as Dino does it once in a while.
We traveled all over the state and fished everywhere we went. A trip with Dino will always be a part of my fishing trips to Florida. He offers more than just snook on the docks but its hard to beat. Check out his website : http://onlyonafly.com and book early, he is highly sought after guide.