What I Learned While Fishing In The Keys


  1. You can’t slather on enough sunscreen to keep from burning at least some – I tried. I applied. Then I reapplied. Then I put on some more. I still burned. So I found a new appreciation for technical fishing clothes and yes, though it pains me to say it, even the Buff.
  2. Fish don’t like the smell of sunscreen
  3. Just because I can hit a child with a fly while he’s running full-bore across a field at 80 ft and with a 20 knot wind blowing doesn’t mean that I can successfully cast to a feeding permit 30 ft away when the breeze is barely rippling the water – Buck fever is a horrible affliction.
  4. I may be too easily distracted – “Oh look a baby lobster.” “That’s a neat looking sponge.” “What is that, Stag-horn coral?” “What a cool looking bird!” “Fuck! I can’t believe I poled right over that fish! I shouldn’t have been looking at that goddamn lobster/sponge/coral/bird!” And yes I do talk to myself like that when I’m  alone.
  5. Being ready for the proper fish is hard – I learned long ago that having more than one fly rod rigged and ready to go in my kayak is a recipe for tangles, unending frustration and sometimes broken rods. On this last trip I learned that I’ll see permit and redfish if I have my shark rig ready to go and I’ll see nothing but sharks and ‘cuda if I have my other rod ready to go.
  6. Bonefish don’t exist – They are a fiction created by “big fly fishing” to sell rods and flies so fat cats in the industry can continue to rake in the millions. All photos you may have seen are CGI. If you claim to have seen or caught a bonefish personally you are obviously in the pocket of the “Man”.
  7. A shark the length of my kayak can swim in 2 ft of water without making the slightest bit of disturbance on the surface – What the hell is that about!?!?
  8. And the only possible way to truly become proficient fly fishing in the Keys is to spend a lot of time fishing there – So I’m going to have to start going down there at least once or twice a year. I’m sure my wife won’t mind…

Seven Days

Due to the incredible destructive force that my children posses I’m forced to write this on an iPad, which I’m not real good typing on, so I’m going to keep this short.

One week from today I’ll be in the Keys. I will have six days to do nothing but fish. No wife, no kids, just me, my kayak and some fly fishing gear.

Hopefully I’ll come back to tell stories (with pictures) of big salty fish, lessons I learned and at least one “this is not the way to do it” tale. If not I should at least come back a bit more tan and much more relaxed.

So y’all wish me luck and be expecting the first reports in a couple of weeks!

The Curse of The Agitated Angler

If all goes according to plan, Saturday morning I should be near Beaufort, SC shooting ducks on a private, seldom to never hunted pond at sunrise and chasing redfish and speckled trout with my fly rod the rest of the day.

The weather north of where I’ll be will be cold, windy and miserable which should push the ducks down. The temperature in Beaufort is supposed to be in the mid sixties, the sun is supposed to shine and the wind isn’t supposed to blow too hard.

On paper this should be a great day.

I don’t know how this will work out in reality.

See, when it comes to out-of-town fishing/hunting trips I’m notoriously unlucky. Usually I don’t even get to the destination. And on those rare occasions that I do, things always seem off enough that the locals are commenting on it.

This particular trip seems like it’s going to work out though.

Of course my wife was complaining about a sore throat this morning.

And the three year-old has been extra whiny today for some unknown reason.

And the baby has been crying all morning because he seems to be teething or something.

And it’s predicted to start sleeting/snowing here about the time I should be leaving tomorrow…

Me Vs. The ‘Poon

While tying up a tarpon fly earlier today for my up coming Keys trip in April a thought occurred to me: what the hell am I going to do if I actually hook a tarpon?

See, I’m heading down there by myself, I can’t afford a guide and the boat I’m taking with me is a kayak.

Now I know that I shouldn’t be too worried about the prospect with tangling with the silver king because, well, like I said above, I can’t afford a guide, so the possibility of me even seeing a tarpon much less getting one to eat is going to be pretty slim.

I am bringing my big stick with me though. And it’s going to be rigged up and ready to go if I do get a chance to cast to a tarpon. And if I get a chance I’m sure as shit going for it. I’d be crazy not to.

But what if I actually stick a fish? I mean, not just a fish but one of the big migratory ‘poons, and not just jump it but really drive the hook home and have to fight the big bastard for hours as he drags me and my kayak for miles around the backcountry, occasionally slinging his seven-foot armor-plated body up in the air as he tries to escape, finally giving out near a clump of mangroves that look exactly like every other clump of mangroves leaving me lost and sore but ultimately victorious?

You know what? I think I’d be fine with that problem.

The Perfect Permit Fly

During the first week in April of this upcoming year of our lord 2013, I will be heading to the lower Florida Keys to do a little to do a lot to fish my ass off.

If you’re unaware, late March into early April is one of the best times of the year to chase permit on the flats. This is when they are in their pre-spawn mode and they tend to swarm the flats in search of food during this time.

At least that’s what I’ve read…

See, I’ve never fished for permit. I’ve never even seen a permit outside the pictures in glossy magazines or on computer screens. And I’ve only been to the Keys once and that was a beer, bridges and baitfishing trip where I may have cast my fly rod twice the whole time I was there.

All of that being said, I pretty sure I’ve created the perfect permit fly.

The Perfect Permit Fly

Why do I think this is a perfect permit fly? Well, using my computer and book gleaned knowledge of the wily permit and having none of that pesky practical first hand experience to weigh me down I will give you a run down on why this fly is the perfect permit fly.

  1. It looks crabby as hell! Seriously, look at it. Crab-ee!
  2. It’s easier to cast than a Merkin crab because it’s made with lighter materials (hackle and aftershafts).
  3. When it hits the water it dives for the bottom in about a 45 degree angle. Just like a real crab. And just like the permit like. Or what I’ve read the permit like.
  4. Keeps it shape while at rest but still has lots of that subtle “look at me, I’m a living thing” movement due to all the soft materials.
  5. When stripped, it collapses on itself making a great shrimp imitation, which is something else I read that permit like.
  6. And I’m betting due to my inability to afford a guide that I’ll never even see a permit while I’m down there so this fly will never be rejected.

So there you have it. The Perfect Permit Fly.

Kicking it Old School

Charleston, SC; a place of history, beauty and most importantly, lots and lots of saltwater fishing. Thanks to my wife’s continuing education my family and I were able to spend the last two weeks there. Unfortunately, due to my wife’s continuing education, I was only able to eke out one day of fishing in that entire two-week period.

It was a good day though.

I got to get back to my fishing roots; the kind of fishing that I’ve done so much and for so long and feels so natural to me that conscious thought about what I was doing was almost unnecessary.

There was no worrying about fly selection, line speed, tight loops or parabolic curves.

I fished with a good friend using bait caught in a cast net from the same stretch of creek in which I was fishing. I knew exactly where to fish. I knew what the fish were by the bite and fight before I even got a look at them. It was fun, it was relaxing and I even got some fresh fish out of the deal. And I didn’t realize how much I missed that kind of fishing.

Now, I’m not going to give up the fly and when asked, will always tell people I’m a fly fisherman first and foremost, but I don’t think I’ll pass up a chance to soak some bait while hanging with a buddy anytime soon.

Oh, and 5ft long sharks are pretty cool too…