Key’s Chronicles: Early Season
Day I: Late start, low tide, breezy. Oceanside: small groups, singles, and doubles. Second cast: hooked up! Jump, jump. Sweeeet. Drag singing. Fish off. “Uhhhh… popped ‘im off.” Nope: reel in to find the backing broke! Motored around searching for a #10 yellow line zipping through the water but was forced to admit both the fish, line, leader and fly were gone forever. Mental note: next time bring a spare line on board. No more fishing for me so Capt. T. throws a few casts, but gets no love. Tide’s off so we head in early, pull boat, and drive down to Worldwide for a new line and grilled Mahi sandwiches from Ma’s Fish Camp. Back home. Sleep. Dream of tarpon.
Day II: Later start, lower tide, still breezy. Best Oceanside spots taken. Headed NW; no fish up there. Dropped back down to Tav’ and fished the outside. Polling sucks. No, wait; I suck at polling. Couple small strings get by us on the outside, Capt. T. gets one shot but no love. Back at Mullet Camp we throw giant steaks and fresh corn on the grill: comfort food. Beer. Sleep. Dreams.
Day III: Later start, even lower tide. Calm. Oceanside on the pole. Fish and follows, but no love. Capt. T. almost fed a 5-pound bone with a 2/0 tarpon fly on 40 lb. tippet but it saw the boat so, again, no love. Head in. Pull boat. Beers. Tequila. Rum. Sleep.
Day IV: Latest start. Dead low tide. Calm, but picking up. We head Bayside looking to hit Flamingo, but a thunderhead forced us West to Twin Keys. We find 1 fish and no love. Crab Key: same. Finally we hit The Pocket and it’s empty except for 1 boat. We pull in line and wait. Time passes. No casts… then we see the guy in front make a cast, strip, pickup, recast, and hookup! “Yeah! Alright. Wooaaah.” That’s the absolute first time I’ve ever seen another boat fighting a fish, much less actually watched the hookup. We head home, pull skiff, clean house. Sleep. No dreams.
Day V: It’s 8:21 AM, coffee’s done and the music’s on. The water calls but it’s been a long week already, with nothing much to show for it. Of course, we’d have nothing to actually show anyways—you don’t keep tarpon—but we’d have something, some feeling, some sense of accomplishment, of being heroes. Today it’s up north into The Bay and, if tarpon are absent, we’ll kick around the backcountry and hope to see redfish or snook. It’s a good plan…
4:45 PM: No love. Pound our way home home, beers, wash boat… sleep.
On the migration,