A Month of Transitions

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It is hard to believe that this time last year the government shut down closed all access to Everglades National Park for a good portion of the month. Luckily October fishing is not all about what is happening inside the boundaries of ENP. c-20131107_092144While snook are still in season and there are lots of redfish and other species to chase in the backcountry; I find myself targeting bonefish, permit and tarpon this month. This is a month of transitions with temperatures starting to cool and the first of our cold fronts making their way down. Great fishing can be experienced all day long. Typically we will see a fall finger mullet migration that attracts tarpon, jacks, snook and some of the biggest snappers I catch all year in the backcountry. I love to ambush schools as they move around points and narrow passes. Additionally, in September we had an excellent permit bite all up and down the Keys both ocean side and bay. It should only get better as we experience stronger tides and cooler waters throughout October. c-20131224_110319This time last year I had a couple of days booked with a client who told me that he was 77 years old and catching a tarpon and bonefish on fly was on his bucket list. He had no interest in fighting a tarpon for more than 10 minutes so we decided to focus on small 5-10lb tarpon, which were in abundance at the time. I have had numerous trips just like this. It has become a very common thing over the last couple of years, especially since the movie “Bucket List” came out back in 2007. My client’s name was Donald Parish. He and his childhood buddy Ty, age 73, joined him for three days of fly fishing out of Dove Creek Lodge in Key Largo. They both explained how they had very little experience with a fly rod and even less when it came to fly fishing in saltwater. I was thrilled to be their fly fishing ambassador to the local waters of Key Largo but also felt the pressure to accomplish the goal we had set. c-20131224_110221When fly fishing, the ability to see the fish is very important. This was an issue since most of our days were met with cloudy conditions. I told them to forget about seeing the fish and to concentrate on the clock system when casting. I would tell them when to strip the fly or recast a little to the right or left. This turned out to be the most effective technique throughout the course of the three days - which turned out to be two half days and one full day. Donald caught his first tarpon and landed three more, jumped six other fish but did not get his bonefish. His buddy Ty landed his first bonefish and tarpon, and in addition he jumped three and landed five more. They each had a blast; having not only caught tarpon and bonefish on fly but several mangrove snapper, jacks, barracuda and one bonnethead shark. It is time to register for the 3rd Annual Cheeca Lodge All American Backcountry Fishing Tournament held November 13-15, 2014. This is a two day all release tournament for bonefish, permit, tarpon, redfish, and snook with proceeds going to the Guides Trust Foundation which assists Florida Keys fishing guides in times of need by helping them meet their financial obligations. The GTF also awards scholarships to local students. For more information about the tournament please contact Julie Olsen at (305)517-4449 or by email at jolsen@cheeca.com or visit http://www.cheeca.com/fishing and look under fishing tournaments. Come join us and help support your community and a worthwhile cause. Hope to see you there! For those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!


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