In honor of it being that special time of year here in Florida where all of our northern friends migrate south for the warmer weather, we decided that we should blend into our surroundings. In reality it was my idea and I just happened to drag these two into it. First lets meet these two anglers before we move forward with the story.
That is Marcos, and you’ve probably seen him around these parts. He just so happens to be involved with most of my fishing adventures.
So lets get to know him, he is a 24 year old Venezuelan transplant living just outside of Fort Lauderdale, he’s a fly fisherman, glass fanatic, filmmaker, and a self proclaimed beer connoisseur. He likes to fish and I am pretty sure that won’t be changing anytime soon. Marcos learned how to fly fish only a mere one year ago but can hold his own against some of the best anglers on the water. In his one year of fly fishing he has probably spent over two hundred and fifty of those days on the water learning the water and fish that occupy them.
Up next is Matty Short, a Colorado living mountain man, coffee connoisseur, and river angler.
Matty is an Army Veteran, Guide for Veterans Go Outdoors, Mentor for The Mayfly Project, and is currently studying Wildlife Fire Science. His fiancé Samantha is a Florida native and they come down to visit her family any chance they get. This was his first salt water experience and first time throwing an 8wt in his life.
The day started off early, well at least for me it did. I woke up at 2:00am in hopes of being loaded up and on the road by 2:30 so I could make it to pick up Matty down in Coral Springs by 4:45 before we made our way to pick up Macros in Weston. On the road with no traffic it was smooth driving down to Coral Springs where I would meet Matty for the first time. He loaded up his gear and we were southbound towards Weston to pick up the other cat. We talked fly fishing and general life stuff on our way to get Marcos, once we made it there and picked up Marcos we gave some general salt water tips to Matty. Tips like, don’t ever trout set in the salt, don’t ever reel in your slack line when hooked up to a fish unless you want to lose the fish, the double haul will make life easier, etc…
We made it to our first fishing location right at sunup and rigged all the gear we needed for the day before heading towards the water.
With the wind howling out of the south it was going to be less than optimal conditions, but a well fitting condition for someone learning the salt. We explained how the flat system worked and how you normally do more sight fishing than blind casting, but with the conditions it was going to be a blind casting day.
We watched the water as it rolled in at a dead high tide in hopes of seeing tailing bonefish or any movement in the water. We made our way down the beach until we found a somewhat protected area from the southeast wind that was hitting the area. I snapped a few shots of the guys making their way into the water and of some sweet pelicans flying overhead (I really wish those dudes would yell out where the fish are).
After taking some shots and video I put the camera down and headed into the water. I had tied on a very simple Crazy Charlie variation that is nothing more than two hackle feathers and some gray dubbing. On my third cast I hooked into the first fish of the day, a nice little Ladyfish (otherwise known as a poor mans tarpon).
Ladyfish don’t get the credit they deserve, for the size of the fish they are pound for pound one of the toughest fighting fish out there. These little streamlined fish can burn across the flats, jump several feet into the air and give you a good workout. This guy being on the smaller side was in after a few small jumps and one little run.
Marcos and I would both go on to catch several baby Jacks in the surf. I even managed to catch one that had a sand eel in its mouth, I guess the guy really was hungry. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of Marcos with any of his little Jacks.
With Matty throwing the exact same fly that Marcos was we were just waiting on Matty to get into something, and not before long he would land his very first salt water species. He hooked a little Jack and said after he released it that he couldn’t believe how hard it pulled for such a small fish. Marcos and I laughed and said just image how the big thirty plus pounders pull.
After the bite seemed to die off in that area we packed up and headed to the next location. This area was more protected from the wind and had plenty of great mangrove structure for fish to hide in. Unfortunately it would turn out, I would be the only one to catch another fish.
While casting to some sandy bottomed pot holes in the middle of some of the grass flats a small Barracuda came up and nailed my fly. Luckily it would hit the fly in the perfect position as these little guys are notorious for cutting you off when they hit the fly. We took some sweet photos of the fish and let her go to swim another day. We hoped we would see some bigger Barracuda on the flats as in the winter time the big girls push up into the shallows but it just wasn’t our day.
Shortly after releasing my fish we found a sweet little mangrove area to hang out. We talked fishing and about our big Chasing Natives adventure that was coming up later in the year. We also had to get some sweet “model shots” as well. Don’t judge me.
After snapping some photographs we decided to call it a day on the flats and head into the city for some urban fishing in the South Florida canals.
Miami is a pretty interesting city, well I should say the Miami area in general. It is filled with people from all walks of life, crazy graffiti all over the place, but more importantly a lot of fish. Many of those fish being invasive species, from African Cichlids to South American Catfish you sure do have plenty of angling options.
The bite would prove to be a tough one for the remainder of the day. With only a few fish seen cruising the canal shorelines and none interested in our flies we would call it a day.
However, Marcos was insistent on throwing to one big peacock bass that was hanging out under a tree before we made our final departure. Looking at the pictures now I laugh and wonder what would have happened if he actually hooked the fish.
We loaded the car back up and headed back to Weston to drop Marcos off. We talked about our previous adventures in the area and insisted Matty come back in the heat of the summer for a truly great exotic adventure when the bite is really going off.
We all said our farewells and hoped we would be able to hit the water together one more time sooner than later.
On my three hour drive home through rush hour traffic in South Florida I thought about the day as a whole and how it isn’t always about how many fish, or how big the fish were but about the adventure shared with friends and the stories told.