I've been wanting to put together a collection of fly fishing stories for as long as I have run this blog (coming up on three years now) and I've finally gotten around to doing something about it. A few of the stories I have planned are ones that I wrote about in the blog already, as well as a few totally fictional accounts based on one or several real events that I have experienced.
Head on over and check out If You Give a King a Cookie (and other short stories)in the Kindle Store and let me know what you think! I included my email in the back of the book, so feel free to contact me with feedback, good or bad. Again, this is just three short stories to start getting my name out there and get feedback from the people that love to read fishing and adventure literature.
Flyfishermen are an introspective bunch, tending to philosophize a little more than our other fishing brethren. We like to catch big fish and high five about it, but we also like to talk about WHY we fish. I figure that is mostly because it's something we ask ourselves often as we are picking another tangle out, or standing waist deep in frigid and/or shark infested water.
That being said, there are also physical and mental attributes that make a fly fisherman respected among his peers. A few days ago I read a post on Chi Wulff where a list of "reasonable fly fisher skills" for his area was laid out. I thought it was well done and it got me to thinking about what would pass for a good list in my area. Saltwater fly fishers have to deal with a different set of obstacles than coldwater fisherman, arguably separate but equal.
At any rate, I started thinking about what made a respectable salty fly guy/gal, and started asking a few of my more crusty friends for some input. Some were more tongue-in-cheek than others. This is a shortened list of what we came up with
Tell by looking out at the roadside palm trees in the glow of the streetlight roughly how fast the wind is blowing.
Be able to tell the difference between the wake pushed by a mullet and that of a redfish or black drum.
Know that terns always lie, but gulls can lead you to treasure.
Be able to filter the sounds of jumping mullet from the sounds of bait being crashed.
Fully load the vehicle and have kayak strapped on top, in the dark, in ten minutes.
Spot a tailing redfish from over two hundred yards on a good day, from over 50 on a bad one.
Knows where the most sheltered spots are to get away from the wind, but generally only fishes those on days over 20kts.
Must be able to two-handed strip at warp speed to trigger mackerel and other pelagic species.
Must be as comfortable laying in a back cast as a forward cast on target.
Be able to maintain relative composure as a fish bigger than your duck dog approaches your fly.
Not locking up when a red/bone/permit/tarpon suddenly appears less than 30' from the boat.
Effectively pole a boat with and into the wind all day, positioning the caster for best shot on fish.
Know how to interpret tide chart and mentally calculate the difference in water movement for local area you plan to fish.
Navigate labyrinth marsh and marl while neither running aground or putting others in danger.
Be able to wade with ninja-like stealth while avoiding the mine field of oyster shell and stingrays.
Turn over a fly at 60' into a 20kt wind.
Cannot drive by hobby stores without wondering if they might have gotten any new foam or tinsel in...
Willing to endure withering wind and endless staring at empty water to hook the silver king from the granite of the jetty.
With the first major cold front of the year leaving Fall hanging in the air, it's time.
Time to go fishing.
Get out there and take advantage of the bait migration, the cooler temps, the clear water, the low numbers of fishermen on football Sunday afternoons. Do yourself a favor - grab a fly rod and get out there.
Spring is green water, and the first week of sunny days without a cold front to bust the pattern. Spring is out once again on the warm granite of the jetty, remembering the times before, anticipating the times ahead. Spring is a lightning slash through schools of tiny baitfish; a flicker of black forked tail re-entering the water in the afternoon sun, as terns dip and wheel, crying the raucous song of their people. Spring, for me, really truly starts when the Spanish mackerel arrive at the jetty.
They're not the biggest, or the fastest, but they're big enough and fast enough to make your reel sing, your heart rate elevate. They've got a face full of razors and they mean business; they'll slice you good if you're careless while de-hooking. Follow the birds and you'll often find the Spanish, ripping up the surface as they slap-chop baitfish. In the picture above, they had corralled schools of bait against the rocks of the jetty and were systematically shredding them. They can often be found right off the rocks; for this reason, they're a great introduction fish for jetty fly neophytes. In my next post, I'll talk more about that.
Size 2 clousers in your favorite color combo, heavy on the flash, retrieved as fast as you possibly can. No wire needed, just 50lb bite tippet if you start getting bitten off. Simple, and at times very fast-paced. Spring has smacked, and soon... very soon... the summer will kick off for real. I can't wait.
This year was one for my personal recordbooks. I had many things happen that I had planned on, such as the successful one year anniversary of my blog. I had things happen that I had hoped for, such as a succession of calm, flat days offshore that were ripe for chasing big pelagic fish. And then of course I had the things that I never dreamt of, such as my stunner of a lake trout experience. Grab your preferred adult beverage, and let's think back... waaaay back...
Early in 2013, I had the chance to go try and find some redfish and/or speckled trout with a good buddy of mine. We didn’t expect much, knowing that cold waters would have the fish lethargic and deep water blind casting would be the name of the game. Boring, yes, but better than not trying at all. So we chunked fuzz in the deepwater pockets and drifted promising edges, but we might as well have stayed home it seemed. Then, on impulse, we scouted some new water over the figurative and literal hill, and hit red-gold. Boom, said the tailing redfish....continue reading "The Salt396 Guide to 2013"
One thing you need to understand about the jetty is that it is a gateway, a portal between the endless openness of the Gulf and the more familiar inshore flats and waterways. Some jetties frame vast shipping thoroughfares, such as the Corpus Christi Ship Channel or the Houston Ship Channel. These channels are roughly 60 feet and 45 feet deep, respectively. To give you an idea of scale, this makes them deeper than the natural depth of the water over 10 miles offshore ...continue reading "The Portal – Jetty Intro, cont."
As I jot this story note on my smart phone, the water at the end of the jetty is a roiled, sandy mess. Wind is kicking up past 20mph, and the wind-generated swell is sloshing over the windward rocks with more than enough force to render line management a nightmare. There is so much sediment in the water that even the foam on the waves is tan.
The leeward side is a little better – patchy blue, much more calm – but I’ve been here 45 minutes and haven’t even wet a line. Haven’t seen a reason to. No bait flipping around, no swirls, no rolls, no greyhounding mackerel… just nothing. Might as well be sitting at a stoplight in town for all the fish activity I am seeing.
That’s the jetty though; feast or famine, with little margin between.
Yet, still I come back. Even now I’m glancing up every couple sentences, deliberating my next words while scanning for a glimpse that things around about to change. Because they do change out here – that’s the only thing predictable, the change. I’ve seen a dead day like today go from zero to a million miles an hour in less than thirty minutes. Tide change, pockets of green water, a raft of mullet moving in from down the beach or offshore, and suddenly there are chunks of mullet flying around as jacks harass and kings destroy. A school of tarpon could pop up, or a log could float in with a ling or tripletail hanging under it.
I have seen all these things happen before, and they could all happen today. But they probably won’t, so I’m about to stand and stretch some life back into my legs, get off this tall rock, and head in.
Win some, but lose more – those are the rules of the jetty.
I had been on the end of the jetty since before sunrise, but I still felt like I was late to the party.
When Jeremy (who blogs at Casting Tales) joined me, he found me sitting glumly on my fly box, staring out over the water, waiting for a sign. I had seen one ‘maybe’ tarpon roll, just a flash of movement that could have been a turtle grabbing a breath.
The jetty is a place both forbidding and misunderstood. A pile of granite is as alien to the beach landscape as a skyscraper rising suddenly from a Kansas wheat field. What some people don’t think about is that a jetty is just a metaphor for human defiance of nature. Without those huge chunks of pink igneous rock, the ocean would quickly silt in the pass and shipping commerce would literally grind to a halt. Thousands of tons of granite are splashed into position, jostling and settling into their sandy resting place. Then, unexpectedly but inexorably, ...continue reading "Jetty on the Fly: An Intro to the Intro"
I got the word via text – water looked good, the mackerel were in, and Chris just caught another one. I couldn’t jump in the truck fast enough. “Smacks” are toothy speedsters, usually the first pelagic fish to move in near shore and present fly chuckers a chance from the jetty. A small, flashy fly to imitate the anchovies that were schooled in abundance around the granite slabs, and it was game on.