August 16, 2013

Pictures Or It Didn't Happen...

That's what one of my friends likes to say.

For better or for worse, that summed up my day yesterday.

Taking the opportunity to do a little fishing, I decided I wanted to walk some flats in the morning while K.C. & Lilly were sleeping and see what I might be able to turn up...despite the fact that the weather was considerably overcast, the tides weren't right, and it's not the optimal time of year.  Not to mention that this was a total non-guided DIY endeavor which had no chance to succeed from the beginning...  But since I have very low expectations when I go fishing, what did I have to lose?

I started the morning at Anne's Beach.  Disclaimer, I don't feel bad about disclosing the two spots where I fished, because quite honestly, they're not secrets.  I found them searching the internet in like all of two seconds.

Anyway, the flats extending out from Anne's Beach are of fair size (as if this Philly boy is some sort of expert or something), although as you move to the right (South), they come up along a larger channel and the water gets significantly deeper very quickly.  The sand is also quite firm, which provides solid footing, something not to be unappreciated while wading (note the foreshadowing).

It actually wasn't long, maybe 20 minutes, before I got into my first (& only fish) at Anne's Beach.

No, it wasn't a bonefish, permit, or tarpon...but rather some random chunky, brownish fish with some stripes and spots that was maybe a foot or a foot and a half long.  I need to see if I can look up to identify what the heck it was, (looked "kind of" like this picture of a tiger grouper?).  The fight was actually rather underwhelming on my 8 weight.  It gave a nice tug when it took the fly, took a little line, but then pretty much rolled over and let me reel it in.  Whatever.  I tried to take a picture when it got to my feet but it fell off the hook right as I was lifting the line to pick it out of the water.  I know, I know, "pictures or it didn't happen..."

I did get a picture of a jellyfish...

After that I headed a bit further south and went fishing off the beach in Long Key State Park.  Unlike Anne's Beach, the sand immediately at the waterline is like freakin' quicksand.  You sink down to your calves upon contact.  WTF kind of death trap is that?  You have to go almost 20 yards to where the flats get grassy before wading gets at least tolerable.

These flats are pretty expansive (again, like I'm some expert).  I had to have walked almost two football fields in length straight out and the water was still only knee deep.  I did a lot of flailing, but caught nothing.  Didn't see much either other than some rays gliding past my feet every now and then....well...until...

Walk on this and you won't get eaten by quicksand

Okay, this part really kills me on the inside.  A lot.  So I'm standing out in the  water maybe 120 yards from the beach...and out of absolutely nowhere, 3 or 4 large fins start barreling straight at me.  Like really...right at me.  Fast.  I'm thinking shark?  Do I need to run?  Would it matter?

However once they got no further than 6 feet from me and the bodies started breaching the water, I could clearly tell these were tarpon.  Probably four 4 or 5 foot tarpon just playing in the shallow water, rolling all on top of each other...kind of like puppies do when they play with each they approached me, circled for a few short moments, and passed...

Once the feeling of panic first thought was to try and cast to them, so I started peeling off some line to make a cast, but then I opted to try and grab the camera instead...  But in the matter of seconds it took to get it out of my pack, they were a good 40 yards away and not coming back.  Again, I know, "pictures or it didn't happen..."

Here's a picture of my rod pointing at the tarpon you can no longer see.
Cheeky reels are cool to look at, but that's a bad tradeoff

So honestly, that more or less concluded my day of fishing.  About 5 hours were spent wandering around two different flats.  Hopefully some successful recon for many visits to come.  One fish (non-photographed) was caught and released, one tarpon fly-by (non-photographed) scared the crap out of me, but really nothing to show for either except some memories.  However, maybe it's better that least I can embellish my memories in future story telling.

Oh, once I met back up with K.C. & Lilly, we did do some family stuff the rest of the day...

Like feed the tarpon at Robbie's...which Lilly thought was awesome, but preferred to keep her distance...

And Lilly wanted to try casting my fly rod... and by the use of two hands, looks like I need to get her spey casting ASAP...

And I know you're not going to doubt any of those events took place...because I got pictures...


  1. Sooooooooo you have "swatty" hands when trying to take fish pictures!

    1. You could say that. I got good at handling trout and bass and freshwater fish, but I'm 0-2 on the salt. Maybe I need a pocket gaff to keep em in place. Probably wouldn't work too well for C&R though...

  2. Michael
    This is a long way from those mountain streams, that you may long for--glad you was able to make it out on the water. thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks for visiting Bill. No, it's not the same as my beloved small streams...but there's something about the salt that's just very attractive...

  3. I don't know how everything will work out in the end, my friend - but I think I can generally speak for everyone who's been reading your blog for the last...however long...when I say that you guys moving to Florida is turning out to be freaking awesome for the Troutrageous! faithful. :) Pictures, words, lies - who cares? I believe you and I'm glad you're willing to share this stuff with us! And hey, you did get a photo of a massive tarpon, in the end. Sort of. Close enough. :)

    1. Thanks Owl. I'm definitely not afraid to learn something new, so I'm glad you guys don't mind watching me fumble on through things...

  4. Well Mike, we'll stick around until you get your feet wet and your hands stinky just to see what happens.

  5. Great recap and pics Mike . Sort of surprised no 'cuda ate your flies during the wade - they're usually my nemesis (little ones) no matter what fly I throw a little further south in the Keys

    1. I was surprised too Joe. In that last picture of Lilly casting off the dock, there were a fair amount of small 'cuda just sitting there...but I had no luck during the wade.