Now that tarpon season is in full swing, there is a flats boat staked out on the edge of every channel and pushing every ocean edge. He’s getting out there early in hopes of being the first one on the right spot. Sometimes it can feel a little claustrophobic, but for the most part, all the guides get along and do their best to give each other space. Mistakes happen, Lord knows I am guilty of that. I have made it a goal this year to always be vigilant and give my comrades the courtesy I’m sure they would give me. There are days it seems, that I can only zig when I should’ve zagged and most of the decisions I make turn out to be the wrong ones. This is where perseverance is key when out on the water looking for any fish.
We all had that friend in high school who seemed to be effortlessly talented at everything. You know, the guy who was a starter on the football team and in the off-season played baseball and soccer just for exercise - and of course he was always one of the best players on those teams as well. I have a few friends who are like that when it comes to fishing. It doesn’t matter if it’s offshore, freshwater, flats or in the dead of winter on a frozen river in Siberia, the guy will catch a fish.
One of my buddies, who is especially good, is a guide from the Northeast. He can catch them in a bathtub. Eliot comes down here for about a month during season to get a break from work and to fly fish for tarpon. Mind you, he does not come down here to be another boat on the water and take clients out. He is 100% on vacation, so sometimes he may be a little groggy in the morning...
We were supposed to leave early in the morning before the sun came up, but he had developed a minor case of the brown bottle fever. It happens to the best of us, so I left without him. I have no problem fishing solo on a calm spring morning when the fish are happy. Of course, the phone started ringing and I let it go a couple of times, just to mess with him. But then I couldn’t take it anymore. I called him and told him to jump on his scooter and meet me on the south side pier. Being the thoughtful person that he is, he showed up with cheese toast and café con leches, all was forgiven!
We had several shots at nice strings of fish coming from the west, but we couldn’t quite crack the code. Finally, after changing the fly a couple of times, Eliot hooked up on a nice fish. He fought it for a while, got some great jumps, and then landed her on a waist deep flat. We took a couple of pictures and she swam away. These are the types of scenarios that happen when he and I fish together. That was the only time he showed up late by the way. But his energy and positive attitude make even the toughest day successful. He fishes in a lot of tough environments up north. What I think this has shown him is the value of perseverance. This is something I have definitely learned from him. There is always something new to try. Don’t give up, the tide will change, the clouds will break and they will start swimming.
So when you’re out there and you feel like you’re making all the wrong decisions, keep going because the next decision could be the one that makes a difference. And if you are still friends with that guy in high school who is good at everything, call him up and make him go fishing with you!
Good luck out there this season. Watch out for each other!
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