Do you remember your first fish?... I can... I can still see the school of Bluegill at the canals edge. My dad tied a small hook directly to the monofilament line on my Zebco Kmart special. He showed me how to form a ball with bread to disguise the hook and how to find the release point in my cast. It wasn't long before I was hooked... happy as could be, blissfully unaware of species, size or method. I was just happily in love with time by or on the water and the slightest chance to catch one... any one. These days I am easily caught up in the race for the biggest fish of the best species and with the toughest method... and upset when dozens of each species are not caught with ease. Sometimes I have to remind myself of those first trips with Dad and the excitement a bite, any bite brought. What's best is when I have a first timer aboard and I can witness their excitement firsthand... fond memories come racing back. Many fly caught fish and twin 37 inch Snook reached my boat this week, but I had more fun catching first time species with Mary & the Mikes.
First timer Turned Pro
South Carolina natives, Mary and David Brown came aboard not knowing what to expect. Their knowledge of the Everglades came by way of the internet and television. Monster Alligators, swamp buggies and airboats were expected... the dense fog added to the mystique and made Mary's prayers of avoiding the alligators more intense. Luckily, the fog dissipated enough to allow us to traverse Whitewater Bay and the rivers North without incident. When we arrived to the first spot David began to show Mary rod casting basics... after two "kaplunks", her third try was the charm. Before she could enjoy her casting success her line started running... a Snook went airborne. From there she was off and running... casting, catching and posing for pictures... a Pro in the making. I haven't had so much fun in a very long time... much more rewarding than the fly caught monsters earlier in the week. Mary registered her first Snook, Redfish, Black Drum, Trout, Gag Grouper and many other less sought after species... her first Back Country Slam.
She was upset after losing a very large Black Drum boat side, but forgot when she landed this Gator Trout.
One of several Gag Grouper caught... most were just under slot and released to fight another day.
Out of Retirement
Three years had passed since the last time I fished with Mike Ortiz... although we tried to put a trip together many times, something would always get in the way. This time, we made plans and stuck to them... only, Mike had a surprise. He brought long time friend, Mike Lowell (Boston Red Sox... World Series MVP)... I'm a baseball fan, so you can imagine the excitement. To no surprise, Mike is a great guy and a blast on the boat... like any High School friends would be, the Mikes played "wise crack" catch... back and forth. It was the Mike and Mike show... my cheeks are still sore. Although we caught really good fish, they didn't care what species... only that the line was pulling. It was a blast... Friends, good weather and lots of fish.
Rick Martin (left), yours truly (Center) and Mike Lowell (right)
Some hefty trout for the box... a few slams were caught that day.
Pictures from the rest of the week...
Buddy Yarborough with a hefty Black Drum... in spite of the 25 mph winds.
Mike with his first ever Tarpon!!! He went on to Slam that day... I love you, man
For those of you interested in hearing more about the Everglades, my techniques and a few fisherman's tales, I will be speaking at the Miami Sportfishing Club Tomorrow (2.18.09) night around 7:00 pm. Please call to RSVP as soon as possible.