Sitting under a fresh batch of stars on the back deck of the Sniki Tiki (the greatest tiki/dive bar of all time) cold beer in hand, hot wings en route, and a gentle Gulf keeping the relentless no-see-um offensive at bay, Brogan Jayne and I could do nothing but shake our heads and try to put the pieces together. After months of planning, anticipating, and dreaming of Red October on the Heron Lagoon – our pursuit of producing quality fish porn was supposed to be more…..well….more.
More cow bell
And the list goes on….
It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.
Good god no.
Taking a sip of my beer and looking up at the tropical night sky for answers that surely wouldn’t come while in the refuge of my favorite tiki bar, a sun scorched mind offering up only the most irrational excuses for angling futility (don’t forget your lucky hat), I didn’t try to sugarcoat it. “Bro, I don’t think we’ve ever worked harder for a fish. Ever.”
Brogan laughed it off. “Amen to that, Rem.”
And then we ordered more beers…..
A trip that spanned over 33 hours (out of 72) on the water with one of my best friends and absolute sniper with the fly rod wasn’t supposed to have produced the amount of heartache and frustration that it did. It didn’t help that the Braves and Rays were eliminated in that same time span. It didn’t help that the entire coastal region flooded due to heavy rains in the weeks prior. It didn’t help that we had a new moon. But everything happens for a reason. When things get tough, the tough get going. That’s the beautiful thing about fishing.
It is absolutely unpredictable.
No day on the water is the exact same as the day before (although if fishing is tough, it usually stays tough unless there is some X factor that single-handedly erases the sheetiness. Weather, moons, tides, & holding doors open for old ladies all factor into your day on the water believe it or not). Brogan and I have been on the receiving end of some brutal, fish-led assaults on the mind, body, and ego in the past. Sometimes perfect conditions are met with fishless days and at other times, you couldn’t pick a worse time to be on the water and things line up right in a big way. This wasn’t our first rodeo. We knew what we were signing up for the minute we brought the cameras in the boat.
Fish hate cameras.
So instead of getting disheartened by each “perfect” cast that deftly landed a few feet back in the groves or under a dock and went untouched – we adopted the mindset that we were one cast closer. The refusals only pushed us to fish harder. Make better casts. Pack more dips. Finding fish through elimination—talk about faith. But if you think about it, this incredible game of probability and chance eventually had to swing in our favor. The fish had to eat at some point. Inevitably, our fly would land in the right place, do its dance, and get clobbered by something hungry. It’s a game of perseverance. Plus there are just too many self-respecting game fish in this body of water for things to stay slow forever.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. David Thoreau said that.
It probably best explains why – even though the fishing was on par with pulling teeth – that we kept at it. The things you see each time out on the water are an entirely new and genuine set of experiences. So although we only bagged a small poon, missed our shots on big reds, and managed to get an iota of the footage we needed – I’ll always look back fondly on this trip.
The things we saw will be hard to forget…. A 40+” redfish crashing bait like a porpoising dolphin and the heart pounding seconds that were failed attempts to get his leviathan ass to eat a huge streamer….Tarpon backs breaking glass-calm water in predawn darkness….The slow, methodic, and entirely reckless pursuit of the unseen….. Bald eagles chasing ospreys…….
And now I want to do it all over again.
Fly dudes doing fly things in fly places with flies. Got that?