The Wife, The Guide, & The Redfish
My wife is a wonderfully observant woman. Not only can she tell me if the clothes I'm wearing match in the dark of our bedroom before sunrise, but she can spot a tiny bug in the house from over 30 feet away and smell things I try to sneak past her while we're on the sofa watching TV at night.
As such, she also knows that I've been struggling making the transition from freshwater fly fishing to the salt. We don't talk about my fishing much, but it probably wasn't too hard to ascertain, as many of her innocent inquisitions following my recent outings have resulted in unenthusiastic responses.
Sure, I could probably make it a little easier on myself by tossing bait like everyone else down here, but I pigheadedly insist on sticking to the fly rod and reel. Not standing for any more of my floundering (or should I say lack thereof) the wonderful woman that is my wife arranged a guided kayak outing as a birthday present.
I was able to cash in on that thoughtful gift this past weekend when I met local guide extraordinaire, Captain Rich Santos at an undisclosed location in a top secret part of town. We'll call it the Kurger Bing Larking Pot.
Blindfolded and whisked away to yet another secret location, Rich informed me that the plan for the day was to find tailing redfish in the flooded Spartina grass flats. As we waited for the water to rise and come in enough to launch our kayaks, he explained the window of time we had to fish and how the tides impacted the marsh, where to walk (and more importantly where not to walk), kayak rigging, local wildlife...fiddler crabs, snails, grasshoppers, marsh hens, etc..., what flies we were going to use, and how to approach and cast to the fish. Much like the marsh itself, he was flooding me with a fountain of quality information, and I tried my best to drink up every drop.
I have to say, Captain Rich was an excellent guide...patient with my slow paddling, encouraging despite my inaccurate casts, extremely personable...an engaging story teller who put me at ease quickly. I know guiding is a service industry, but I never once felt like a "customer." Not once.
Now this story is supposed to end where I tell you that I caught a redfish, maybe a dozen. Alas, I didn't...but it certainly wasn't Rich's fault. He found three (as well as a sheepshead), and I was able to cast to two of them. The first I outright spooked, the second just didn't want to play, and the third went into the thick stuff before I could get a cast off. I might have had a few more shots had some scary weather to our south (i.e. lightning in the distance) not chased us off the best flats of the outing...as we were unable to spot any others in the shallower water on the way back in.
|Here comes the weather!|
You might think I'd be bummed after coming up short, especially considering my recent run of luck. Actually, it's quite the contrary. I'm feeling enthusiastic & rejuvenated! I learned more in the half hour before we actually paddled out than I had in the past year! Seeing tailing redfish...knowing a bit more about how to approach them and with what...heck, just pushing my limits in my kayak (Rich encouraged me to stand in it for the first time) was a big win. I know, baby steps.
|Who's the big boy standing in his kayak?|
I'm also feeling thankful for having an awesome wife who knows just what I need to get out of a rut. Thanks K.C.
If you happen to be in the Jacksonville, FL area (you know it's on the way if you and your family are driving the I-95 corridor South on the way to visit "The Mouse") and are looking to do some inshore fly or light tackle fishing, Captain Rich Santos is your guy. Really, I couldn't recommend his services more, no B.S.
Check his site out at First Coast Fly Fishing Unlimited for more information on availability, rates, & packages (as well as some great photos and video).