Just add saltwater...
No doubt anyone that ever fished with me has
heard a fishing story or two about Stevie Uzzle. Stevie has been my fishing buddy forever, since we were kids. Over the years there
has been many a fence jumped to get to a secret bass pond, many a mile waded to
reach a distant (or not so distant) creek and many shorelines and flats fished
by the two of us.
From wading the shallows of New Port Richey
after blue crabs, diving the keys for lobster or just eating stone crabs at the
camp till we couldn't move, we never ran out of adventures to pursue.
was never a shortage of seafood.
Stevie is a fly fisherman at heart. One
of the best fly casters I have ever seen, even after almost 20 years as a
fishing guide. I can't believe he didn't follow me into my current
occupation. He would have been a natural. His understanding of the
craft of fishing the flats and his ability to teach others is inspiring.
Now that I think about it from a business standpoint, I am sure, I am a lot better
off he didn't.
Over the last few years we have only managed to
get out on the water together just a few times, maybe once a year or so. A
couple of times we pursued tailing redfish in the shallows, but most of the time
we chased the silver kings.
I cherish the good times we have had in the past
and I thought I would like to share the events of our last such adventure.
It was mid-August of this past season (2010).
The weather was windy for a couple days, but the forecast for tomorrow was
perfect. High 92 degrees, wind light and variable, 50% chance of afternoon
thunderstorms, a tarpon junkie's dream forecast. I had been fishing
clients 7 days a week since May, but I had no problem getting excited about
today. I had the fish patterned (or so I thought) fairly well. With
the weather, tides and my skiff running good, how could we go wrong.
Famous last words...
We ran about 12 miles out of El Jobean over
slick calm water to a shallow flat I had been on tarpon all week. The fish
had been there at sunrise, moving deeper to the center of the harbor as the day
progressed. Adult tarpon rarely ever stay on the same pattern for more
than a few days. I need them to stay on the pattern for just one more.
As soon as we arrived we saw the first roll of a tarpon in the distance.
The conversation that started in the truck never stopped as we both grabbed
poles, Jenni readied her Nikon and I slid the trolling motor in the water.
The excitement quickly ended when after 30 minutes we never saw another fish.
With the glassy conditions we slowly worked our
way on the path the tarpon had taken every day the past week. Stories of
our fishing escapades of the past continued and the bull shit got deeper.
We had to find some fish fast, my boots were at the house. We covered
almost all of the upper harbor, seeing a fish here and there, but no
concentrations of fish we needed. These fish were spread out and not
showing any signs of feeding behavior. Getting a cast at a fish close to
the boat was impossible.
Reluctantly I worked our way back to the river
where we would make a last ditch effort to get on a few fish. Idling along
on the calm water it felt like all of the fish were gone. We could see a
fish roll hundreds of yards away, if one decided to. Stevie brought up the
fact that the two of us never went tarpon fishing together and got skunked,
ever. As I was scanning my sun baked memory bank to remember a time we
did, just to prove him wrong, I saw a small group of tarpon headed from the
channel towards shore. We quickly moved in on the fish only to have them
pop up past us still moving with a purpose. They ended up milling around
in the shallows just off the bar.
To be honest with you, I don't remember who
hooked the first or the last or even how many we hooked total. I do
remember Stevie caught the biggest (did I just say that?). The whole day
couldn't have went any better. Sight casting to hungry tarpon, flat calm
water and not another boat in sight.
It truly was a day to remember.
For Information and reservations:
Capt. Mark Bennett
Tarpon, Snook and
Redfish guide - beach tarpon fishing - Backcountry light tackle and fly fishing charters with Florida fishing guide Capt. Mark Bennett
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