Fishing with Friends

by Capt. Mike Bartlett

Fishing with Friends

I hope you all had an excellent summer! It was a pretty busy one for me this year, which is always good. I even got to do a little bit of fishing over the last couple of months, on the flats and offshore. Not as much as I would have liked, but I was able to get out with some good buddies on some days off when the weather was good, which seems a rarity these days.

On one such occasion, we had a morning when it was flat calm with a tide we like to look for rolling tarpon in. As we approached the spot, we could see the birds working and a few tarpon rolling. Oh boy! Here we go!! We jumped a couple tarpon on fly, landing one. It was a good start to the day, indeed. I can’t remember the last time I, personally, hooked a tarpon.

When the tide turned and started to rise, we then proceeded to an area where I often find tailing bonefish and, holy cow, the bones were there doing their thing! I should add, my buddy and I have this thing where we have worked out a pattern the fish have been on. Later, when we get a day off together, we go to this new-found honey hole, and, lately, it’s not happening anymore. On this particular trip, though, I got a very nice bonefish on fly and a few other shots, which reminded me of how great these days off really are.

It was still early and, for us, an awesome day! We got a few shots, even landed a couple fish, and had some fun. We could have easily gone back home and hung out in the a/c. But, it was only about 10 a.m. and the weather and tide were right. And, besides, when would the next time be that we would have an opportunity to chase a flats Grand Slam on fly together?

Keeping this in mind, we headed to an area my buddy generally finds schools of permit. Mostly, he wanted to check the area over, as the Del Brown Permit Tournament was coming up soon. Almost immediately, we found a big school of permit coming our way. As we set up on the school, and they were just about in range to make a cast, they turned away. Here we go! Permit fishing, wishing we had a crab on the boat!!

Shortly after, another school began to head toward us. This time they kept coming and I overcast them a little, landing the fly line too close to the school. Off they went, never to be seen again. A couple of other schools came along, but just wouldn’t get close enough. Finally, after an hour of watching permit swim away from us, we managed to get a shot at a school that forgot to turn away. As my fly was hurdling through the air toward the fish, just about to land perfectly in front of the school, they remembered to turn away. Well, that’s permit fishing!! And still, a great day, with a great friend!

The last couple of years, another one of my buddies has been coming to visit for the lobster mini-season. He and his wife lived here in Key West for about 30 years. My wife and I met them soon after we moved to Key West and quickly became good friends. My buddy was really in to spearfishing and had tons of lobster spots. I remember we used to head out after work, hit a few spots, and come back with our limit of lobsters.

During this year’s visit, we found a whole bunch of big lobsters over the two-day lobster season and then spent a couple days yellowtailing on the reef. The lobstering, as expected, was really good and pretty easy. The yellowtailing, however, was a little slow. I think we had all of the speedos, ballyhoo, and chubs of the ocean eating our chum, but we still caught a few nice yellowtail snappers to take home for dinner.

Summer vacation is always best when shared with friends and I’m fortunate I got to get out on the water with some great buddies for a little fishing fun of my own this year!




Capt. Mike Bartlett
Capt. Mike Bartlett

Author

Capt. Mike Bartlett runs shallow water sight fishing charters for tarpon, bonefish, permit, barracudas and sharks in Key West. Reach him at 305-797-2452 or on the web at www.keywestflats.net



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