“2014 – Year of The Everglades Special” – Middle Keys
In this quest of using only one fly all year, I have hit a couple road blocks. The Permit quest fell short…but strong until the end of the 4th day and also when I was just in the Bahia Honda Channel during a “Worm Hatch” The weather was crappy, very crappy. Starting at 6 am everyday, the wind was already at its peak at about 15-18, clouds and sporadic rain. Usually having just 2 of these factors wipes out most chances of good consistent fishing. But when you don’t live there, you have to fish, thats what you came there for. So, the first day we had the best conditions and provided us with as a group of 6 with the most typical fishing shots for Tarpon. The first morning I was with Tre Miller and out guide Joel Dickey. We launched from the ramp and headed to the backcountry, looking for rollers. We saw one as we got to the target zone…like a ghost it was gone. Looked aimlessly for 10-15 minutes for fish until the birds gave it away, the shrimp hatch…and the fish that it seems to attract. It wasn’t long until Tre had a great fish on, and we were entranced by it’s acrobatic abilities. The things these fish do will never get old. Their moves in the air and the sounds they make will attract me for life, what an amazing fish. We leadered it a couple times, for it was stubborn and finally wore out the leader before we could get a good shot in the shallows.
Next, I was up. I had taken a little heat from Joel about only using the Everglades Special. I think he was a little more confused why I was using only one fly all year more than he was discouraged at the possibility of a Tarpon not eating the fly. I felt like as far as a Tarpon fly goes, we are in a shrimp hatch and the ES fly looks more like a shrimp than most Tarpon patterns. I was confident and excited to throw it in. The fish that were in this pod were anything from 10 lb’ers to 100 lb’ers. Well, I drew the 10-15 lb card…and what a show it put on. Catching these smaller ones can actually be harder (numbers wise as far as getting to the boat), for they jump more and tend to throw the hook…fighting wise, way easier obviously. I got the fish landed, for it was to end up being the only one that I did land. We would end up splitting the days to ave morning and evening shifts. Due to windy days and the possibility of the worm hatch going off at the Bridge.
We would meet our guides at about 5 o’clock at Bahia Honda State Park. Some boats set up on the “Worm Bar” and some in the channel, we were in the channel. There were good amounts of fish podded up scouting, socializing and looking for worms. The fact that the “Worm Hatch” is very rare and very selective made me decide to give way to the worm fly and set the Everglades Special aside for these evenings. The fact that I had caught my Tarpon and was in a very selective situation, I didn’t feel to guilty about the decision.
On the second night we did hit a good little hatch. It was in the last hour of daylight and was a very memorable hour. I was fishing with my good buddy Dan Joseph and Sandy was our guide. I finally hooked into a bruiser. We didn’t move the boat in order to not ruin the chance of doubling up or get more eats. I had this fish on for about 15 minutes, it was putting on a good show and then decided to go ocean side through the old railroad bridge pylons. It was over. Dan came tight on a couple more but both broke pretty early.
The third day of fishing was only that afternoon at 5 pm due to rain. We went back hoping the worms would go off again but did not, overall disappointment set in as the trip was nearing end. Doug Roland actually went oceanside and was able to raise a fish in the bottom of the 9th inning, got a few jumps and the night was over. I am happy I got my Tarpon on the Ev. Special. It was the only fish I landed and am still very happy I am on this journey. Next stop…Utah, boy what’s gonna happen if I get into a great hatch!