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:
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]
"This place is so fucked up. Where else could you find a thread with a Debbie Gibson song, a chapter from Fyodor Dostoevsky, and a sweet under boob pic like that on the same page?" - Hogleg
"You may not be smart, but your car gets good gas mileage". - Stovetop