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By fatman

It took me a while, but I've figured out that if I take the missus someplace warm and with

a beach, she really doesn't care how much I fish. After a few PM's to various Drakians and

some credit card calisthenics, we planned a trip to the Sunshine State.

Spent a few days on the southwest side with Augustwest (TR coming), broke bread with

NeedsmoreDEET and his better half, and even spent a little beach and wave time with

Mrs. fatman. On Tuesday, after an IHOP breakfast with Auggie and his clan, we jumped

on the old Tamiami Trail and booked over to the Keys...

...had a nice dinner with Thalweg and Hot Rod and watched the sun go down over Florida Bay.

Photos from that night were tourist quality, so I won't bore y'all here....but we always have a

lot of laughs with those two. They were engaged with work duties on Wednesday, so the little

lady and I slept in, had a leisurely lunch, watched tarpoons get fed, and bought some Keys art.

The view from our room:

Thalweg had a Plan A and Plan B for the fishings on Thursday, depending on the wind (which I hear

is still blowing)

The Great White Hope pulled in to the resort at 0-Dark-Thirty, towing a trailer with the

Julia Belle Swain lashed down, an old orange t-shirt tied onto the stern for a warning flag.

If any of y'all get a chance to fish out of this magnificent vessel, by all means jump at the opportunity;

her mojo is strong...

The Great White Hope is showing her age, but the A/C still works:

As we drove up to the Park, we watched the sunrise and Thalweg filled us in on tidbits of local

knowledge. Everywhere we stopped (gas, ice, chicken, entry to the Park) Thalweg knew the people

behind the counter, and they knew him. If you didn't know about his Ozark sweetwater past, you'd think

he was a born n bred cracker.

When we pulled into a narrow two-track lined with mangroves and gumbo limbo, you felt like you'd

stepped right into a Doc Ford novel. Thalweg gave us the rundown as we crept along: put on your gear

(raincoats, gloves, headnet) BEFORE we opened the van doors. No fuckin' around at the put-in, load up

and go as quickly as possible. Here we are at the launch:

Mrs Fatman

Yours Truly

We pushed off from the opulent marina,and proceeded down a narrow manrove creek,

accompanied by approximately 875,432 mosquitoes (I hear they're the State Bird)

After about three miles of paddling and a dozen "almost there's" from Rob, we turned a final

corner and drifted out into the lake

The howling wind was buffered by the surrounding trees, and the resulting breeze soon dissipated

our buzzing guests. We peeled off protective layers, deployed the outriggers (the Julia Belle Swain

is laid out with fishing in mind) and dug out the rods. Thal jumped up on the rear seat and poled along

the bank, and soon we spotted some happy snook. A few stumbling casts later, and I was able to trout set

a fly into my first victim

and soon another

Thalweg poled us around the lake, around islands and back in coves. It's a gorgeous spot:

At one point, a trio of bull sharks started cruising the canoe. Thal splashed the push pole and got

one to grab the pole. I'm sure Mrs Fatman thinks he's the reincarnation of Marlin Perkins. Or Jacques Cousteau.

I cast at (and missed) a few more snook and tarpon hiding up amongst the mangrove roots.

This is different than tossing a popping bug to bass or casting a hopper to mid-stream trout.

Fried Chicken was eaten. Stories were told. Highjinks ensued:

By now we'd pretty well exhausted all of the protected water on that side of the lake, and our only

option was to paddled across against the wind. Brute force and ignorance (on my part) turned out to

be a virtue at last. The only highlight of the next twenty minutes was the missus spotting a saltwater croc

swimming in the deeper water, his nose and eyes the only indication of his presence. Unfortunately,

he dove each time she tried to snap a shot...

Eventually, we made it across, and Thal told me that we were now in Tarpon Country. I had yet to

actually stab one of these fuckers in the face, so I tried to hunker down without losing my shit completely.

Finally, we saw a baby laid up next to a down log, and by some miraculous coincidence, I was able to get

the fly in front of him...and when he ate, I remembered to KEEP STRIPPING until he was hooked.

The missus was ready with the camera:

During the struggle, the push pole had christened my ass with a nice glob of swamp mud.

Zero fucks given

At this point, it was mid afternoon, and we still had to paddle back (and pick up our "friends"

along the way) I told my boat mates that I didn't know that another fish would make me any

happier than I already was. So we suited up and headed back[/report]
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Last edited by fatman on Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
By fatman
[report]the trip out was just as beautiful
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After loading up, we went over to the Visitor's Center to change into fresh clothes and
buy some cold beverages. Of course, Thalweg knew the girl working the register.

We drove over to say HI to Thalweg's Little Frien'
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After some kickass barbeque, we took the old back road to the Keys, and enjoyed a couple
of gifts from the Austrotard
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Rob's only complaint about the cigar was that it wasn't three feet longer.

My only complaint with the trip was that it wasn't three days longer
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:smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile :smile[/report]
Last edited by fatman on Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By yard4sale
Sooooo, you shit your pants on your first poon and blame rob with the push pole? Sure.

Good stuff man.
User avatar
By BigTimber
sweet job on the poonage. Those lil' fuckers can be harder to stick than the big ones. well done! :cool

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