A Coldwater Fly Fisherman's Labor Day Lament

This long Labor Day weekend's been tough.

I'll be blunt, I'm homesick.  I live in Florida now, but it's not my home.  I may be here in body, but I haven't arrived yet in soul.

I miss my friends.  As high school became college, college became work, and work became a life of toil, my inner circles may have changed over time, but there was always somebody close by.  Even more were probably (yet unfortunately) taken for granted.  My relatively recent passion for fishing created many additional opportunities to wet a line, share some laughs, and knock back some beers with other like-minded people;  it's a shame they were short lived from the standpoint of proximity.

Don't get me wrong.  I like my new house and we moved down here because it was what was best for the family.  What's not to like about 5 bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, and a 3 car garage?  Who can complain about a slightly larger salary with a significantly less cost of living.  Our community is quiet and we are within a 15 minute drive from pretty much anything you could want from a retail or recreational standpoint.  Boo hoo, I know.

While I'm getting used to the constant heat of Florida, where it's still in the mid-nineties now in September, I have to admit that I miss the concept of cool.  Not man-made, crank the knob to high cool, but natural, feel the crisp breeze on your cheeks cool.  I don't like to be the guy that complains.  That's not who I am.  I'll give anything an honest effort.  But shouldn't the leaves on the trees start changing colors soon?  Sigh.

The worst thing is that I've seemingly lost my day of weekend psychotherapy.  I'm not sure if I simply haven't unpacked that box yet in the post move clutter, but to be honest, the fishing has just been frustrating. Most likely, just like yours, my work can be stressful, mentally draining, and simply tiring, if not all three at once.  That's why a holiday like Labor Day can be so rewarding.  A morning alone, with rod and (sometimes) reel was all that was needed to release the pent up negative energy and cleansing myself for the week ahead.  Fish were never a given, nor always the purpose; the experience was one of realignment.  

I could probably make it easier on myself by just breaking down, grabbing the spinning rod and getting some bait.  That's what people do down here...seemingly off the side of every bridge, jetty, or muddy bank reachable by foot or boat.  They're everywhere.  But I'm stubborn.  I like my fly rods too much.  After a brief flirtation with some water within the boundaries of my neighborhood, I'm finding myself drawn to the ocean, not because I want to catch saltwater fish, but because fishing in still water just doesn't hold my attention.  No offense to any pond jockeys out there.

I like to connect with the body of water I'm fishing.  I like to try to learn and read the currents.  Find and probe that slack water.  Creep along stealthily while sighting the target.  Be on the move.  Feel the cool pass over my feet and through my legs.  I want the water to talk and play and fight back, to be an active participant.  Shit, I like to wear waders and a long sleeved shirt.  While the ocean and inshore marshes don't necessarily provide all of that, at least there's the chatter of the waves and the leisurely dance of the tides to keep my mind somewhat in motion.

Those damn ponds just lie there.  Sleepy.  Stagnant.  Disinterested.  You can say I'm doing it wrong, but I don't think there's much you can do to persuade me differently.

It's clear a change is needed.  I need a kick start that the move alone didn't provide.  Right now, I'm just not sure where it's going to come from.  I could easily (and probably will) either schedule a trip back to Pennsylvania or the Smoky Mountains some time in October to get a coldwater fishing fix.  Unfortunately, that won't mend my long term therapeutic needs.

So back in Florida, I'm going to try some saltwater fly fishing classes, perhaps hire a guide for an afternoon, maybe even join a club.  Nothing against my close social media-based friends, but sometimes you just need to be in the same room as the person you're talking to.  A firm handshake and eye contact may be a lost art, but they mean a tremendous amount.  We'll see how that goes.  Anything has got to be an improvement.

Comments

  1. I feel your pain.

    I think if you crack the saltwater code, you'll never look back....but it's probably going to require a boat. And after you buy one then you'll need a slightly larger boat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right Clif. It'll be worth it.

      Delete
  2. I feel your pain Mike. I hope you get your trip back home soon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hire a guide to give you a tour of wadeable spots in your area, join a club, buy a book. I started fly fishing in the salt, and fresh is almost never as good. When I was in Cody with a guide and caught my first Wyoming trout my response was 'I have flies bigger than this fish.' Don't sweat about a boat - wading is better exercise and probably more to your taste. Tight lines...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to do that. There are quite a few options, a few I highlighted in my post - I'll be arranging one or all of the above soon. As for size of fish, big fish are nice, but that's not my motivation.

      Delete
  4. I think Clif said the magic word. Boat. It's also a curse word. Boat. I share your disdain for still waters. Boat.

    Hey, maybe a boat would help.

    Boat.

    ReplyDelete
  5. OK...lemme get this straight. You have lived in the fly fishing mecca of the world for longer than a week and you are still hung up on stinky holding ponds?!?!?!?!! Dude. You ARE doing it wrong. Almost offensively so. Get your ass in the ocean and dreams of itty bitty trout will eventually fade. It may take a bit to get the feel of it all but there is nothing more dynamic than sslt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I've been to the ocean. That's kind of the point, that's where I belong, that's the next step. Screw the ponds. Those are fished out of convenience rather than desire.

      Delete
  6. I am with Trevor. You have redfish...sight fishing and awesome takes. Go get em man!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not surprised you stinkin' carpers are aligned. No doubt, you're both right.

      Delete
  7. OK Mike, the guys have the fishing part under control. For my part, wait until it snows there and you'll feel right at home and yes, it will snow there occasionally just not like Pennsylvania.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not going out if and when it snows down here Mark. Floridians can't drive on dry asphalt, I can't imagine the mess it will be with some snow on the ground...

      Delete
  8. Michael
    This is what the Doctor orders---find some lakes waters and cast a huge poppers, "frog pattern" and land some of those big bass--then take a trip to another local water and cast small poppers for some monster gills--true this is not trout fishing but the next best thing--hang in there--enjoyed the read

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the sound of poppers. Once upon a time I had a friend that made poppers...zazzy ones at that...

      Delete
  9. Hi, Mike, thought I would chime in here. You know, usually, I come to your blog and you are very upbeat, informative, and, down right funny a lot of times. This post, though, comes from the Heart and Soul of your body. I found it to be a very unique post.

    Never lived in Florida, only been there once for Disney World. My suggestion is to give yourself some more time for adjustment and learning. Your soul just took a major hit when you left your old home and friends. It will come too you and you will enjoy the heck out of living where you can catch unusual fish and soon you will be educating us on Florida Fly Fishing opportunities.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's quite a ways south of Jacksonville, but I have a cousin who captains a fishing charter down in Port Canavaral:

    http://portcanaveralfishingcharter.com/
    --- or ---
    http://www.inshoreoffshore.com/location/us-florida/brassy-hooker-sport-fishing/

    He's a guy who really loves his 'work.' He'd get you into some fine offshore fishing.

    ReplyDelete

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