I promise, it doesn’t get dark enough for more.
I promise, it doesn’t get dark enough for more.
Night dying fast makes way for brutal summer. The horrendous piles of snow will melt and the lakes and rivers will be alive once again. I’m not sure how long this life devoid of salt and tide will last but soft, mossy earth, high peaks and glacial rivers will work for now.
I’ve always had to see and do things myself. At the age of 12 I taught myself how to fly fish, tie flies with my Mothers sewing equipment and I even killed the only trout in my backyard. 18 years later not much has changed, except my equipment. No more Eagle Claw rods or Pflueger Medalists. Preparing for a solo do it yourself trip to a place where fly shops don’t exist can be a mind game, stocking yourself for the best and worst possible scenario is absolutely necessary. Cheeky reels, Sage and Cortland came through with excellent service for last minute paranoia’s while I stayed up late for a few weeks tying flies and leaders. In a flash it was time to go and I was swiping my passport at the “traveling light” kiosk, heading to the beach with a backpack and two fly rods.
I’ll skip the stories from the flights, it’s always the same. Debatable sleep, offensive odors and over priced alcohol. I arrived just before dusk, dropped my pack, rigged my 9 weight and ran for the beach – However I was delayed in route by a young Mexican man under a palapa dealing ice cold Pacificos, which to my knowledge betters your luck. Squeezed the lime and began casting blindly at a moored up panga. The last fish I ever expected to see, Snook, blew up on my fly right up into the surf – if I wasn’t busy shitting myself I might have been able to grab it. As the sun set I walked to the bar with a cat and mouse grin from ear to ear, imagining the adventure of the week to come.
I woke at sunrise and the Dorado were chasing bait right up into the shallows; one of those from the beach on a fly would be incredible and very possible if all luck were in your favor. To even the odds I went out on a panga and trolled for a couple hours, landing the perfect sized Bull Dorado for me to eat off for the rest of the week. Upon return I headed into town to get some provisions for my stay. I barely made it to the market before gathering all the local fresh fruits I’d need on the street and hanging out with the many dogs roaming about.
That very next day I decided to head south by foot down the beach. I didn’t see any fish cruising so I started looking for places where tide and surf would displace baitfish. I beached two small Jacks and my first few Mexican Needlefish at about 3 ft long. A fat guy on his quad stopped and asked me why I let it go and said they actually taste pretty good, no thanks. I covered over 10 miles on the beach, snorkeled a bit and wished I had brought my spear gun. Leopard Grouper look tasty.
I woke up late the next day and headed north on foot. I saw nothing but rocks but did manage to get some nice photographs and collect some coral. There were a bunch of people out kite surfing and that’s definitely something I want to try, but I don’t think you can fish off one of those so essentially it’d cut into what’s really going on.
I decided to rent a quad for my final two days and hit the beach south to where I’ve seen some huge fish. On the ride there was not much action besides being chased by a gnarly pit bull, a few bat rays and a humpback literally 100 yards from shore.
I stopped at a familiar spot set up my camera and made my first cast of the day at about 70 feet. Stripping twice I noticed a huge shape rocketing at my fly and the next thing I knew I was setting into what felt like a jet ski, the fish easily took 125 yards from me with my drag mashed. I ran back up the beach to gain leverage on the fish and finally turned it, bringing it in as fast and carefully as possible. I’ve never felt so under gunned with my fly rod; I thought for sure something was going to break. There were points when the fish was 60 feet out where I really couldn’t do anything and neither could the fish. After a few more minutes I worked the fish up into the surf and let it bring the fish to me. I ran down and tailed my personal best Jack Crevalle that I’m guessing went anywhere between 25-30lbs. I took a quick photo and watched the Jack swim off safely. In the following minutes I danced all around the beach, drank a lot of beers and was so stoked I felt like I was going to puke. That fish made the whole trip worth it.
On my last day with the quad I headed south again and caught some ladyfish, played with dogs and really just soaked up the solitude in paradise. I met some really cool people, learned a lot and rid myself of some fog. Shared the rest of my Dorado new friends and got some much needed rest. Upon awakening I decided to rig up one last time before noon, cuz you never know.
My last day in Florida I caught every inshore species besides the Snook.
So there it goes, another attempt at life in the concrete labyrinth. Barely dodging old ladies oblivious to stop signs, loaded to the gills on adrenaline. Two steps off the hood of a car that anyone would be embarrassed of being killed or permanently damaged by, saved my life. Landing on your ass can have serious consequences. Blessed be young callipygian, my glutes bounced me once and back onto my feet. My white Ferrari was barely recognizable while the opiated purple, grey, green Plymouth decked in religious propaganda will live another day to ignore traffic signals (and steal rolls of your hard earned quarters). She sped off and I threw my dead dog in the dumpster.
A fish can only swim so far with its mouth open.
Offering up some artist proofs. Support your favorite derelict in refreshing his weathered equipment and continuing the adventure. Printed locally by family business. Thanks!
2/2 Artist Proof 20×24 $100. Captured due west of St. Johns Harbor, Zarembo Island, Southeast Alaska 8/12.
1 & 2/2 Artist Proof 5×7 on pearl paper $10. Captured on an offshore adventure 60 miles due west of Tarpon Springs, FL in the Gulf of Mexico 10/12. These are two of my best prints.
5×7 pearl postcard Artist Proof $5. If you or anyone you know feels a powerful lust for what is arguably the most delicious fish in the ocean, don’t just want it – get it.
5×7 pearl postcard Artist Proof $5. You don’t have to freeze your ass off to catch this one.
Artist Proof in both 11×17 – $50 & 5×7 postcard – 5$
Twisted up a crab, laughed and doubted – Last time I’ll ever do that, doubt it. After seeing a few bull reds and getting punked by some “shouldering” fish I decided to go heavier. My new crab took an easy minute to tie and literally half an hour later produced. It all comes down to confidence.
I stalked the same flat that very next morning on the outgoing when along swims a school of mullet 20 yards wide and over a mile long. Rednecks in their skiffs were attempting to harvest the main vein but were coming up so short that I was doubled over, talking shit. They’d rush in to the school full throttle, whip shit and make the most awful toss with a huge cast net, coming up with less than a dozen fish. This was hilarious to me – at one point I heard a redneck say “What’s that asshole bitching about? They don’t bite a hook” – Oh yea? as I hold up a stringer full. This is a bold statement, but I’d take smoked mullet over salmon – and the roe, anyday. The roe, dios mio! the red roe is the best thing to hit a mans lips since that sweet troller chick from Ketchikan.
Blue crabs are exciting. After hours of pulling traps of stone crabs, puffers and remoras, we’d hit the occasional pocket of blues. My crewmates were too lazy to put work into processing any of the catch, so was I fish rich – all the time.
Growing up in rural New York the most valuable skill for a young fisherman is learning to trespass. The majority of the best water is posted, for no good reason and for good. I wouldn’t want 98% of NY’s “sportsmen” on my property. Shortly after I got my drivers license, a man made pond was dug about a mile from my house. You could clearly see schools of fish cruising on the surface. I’m a polite guy and always have been, so naturally I knocked on the door to try and gain permission. A shirtless, hairy, gumball of a man answered with a blunt “No” and honestly that was the worst possible mistake he could have ever made. A few friends and I would fill our backpacks with cheap beer, trek across the creek, stop in the neighboring properties garden to load up on night crawlers and then go devastate the newly stocked catfish population in this poor bastards pond. We would fish until we convinced ourselves we were about to be caught, but in reality we just liked being chased.
Florida is the same unless you have a boat and even then you can’t escape the sprawl. My strategy was to look for vacant lots and homes for sale then if caught, fake interest for purchasing potential beach front property. Sure! I’d be a convincing candidate as a buyer, decked in a camo wetsuit wielding a fly rod with my 100$ bike stashed in the nearby mangroves. I won’t buy anything unless it fits on my back.