Back in the Game

I know I wrote my last post under the premise that once it was completed, I actually had some good stuff to share, then proceeded to write nothing. But, I actually do have two other adventures that I’ve been meaning to put on paper. Both from out West – one fishing, one hunting.

After leaving my job in July, Samantha and I took August to bounce out to Alaska and see why all these educational channel reality TV shows have been popping up. (Side note: I’m guilty of liking pretty much all of them – Building Alaska on DIY Network being my latest jam.) However, we were hoping to do that in a place where we could lose a sense of what reality actually held (for me anyway). To that end, we decided to head straight to the Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park to target some fatty rainbows at the tail end of the sockeye run. Svintos and Little Miss Svinny (hehe) showed me pictures from their own Brooks trip the prior summer and I’d been jealous ever since. Although Brooks is probably not known for its seclusion from people, once the salmon run has slowed, the bear congregation largely subsides, and that generally causes the human guests to dwindle as well.

After our flight from Anchorage to King Salmon, we jumped a little float plane out to Brooks. High winds forced us to land on the Upper Brooks Lake, rather than the typical Lower Brooks Lake, giving us a quick glimpse of the headwaters we’d be fishing before heading down to camp (located on Lowers Brooks Lake).

DSC_0022

Beautiful day for flying

When we arrived the ranger checking in the day’s new park guests (8 of us) announced to everyone that there had not been a bear seen at Brooks Falls or around camp in 7 days. While it felt like someone had let the air out of the rest of the room, Manth and I were still stoked. Less fishing pressure for us.

Once we’d received our mandatory Bear Encounter Training, we got ourselves settled in.

Not a bad front door view

Not a bad front door view

After making our collective appetites’ presence felt at the lodge’s dinner buffet, we decided to take advantage of the long Alaskan day to do some recon. I checked in with the lodge’s outfitter to see if he had any intel – he wasn’t particularly helpful but said the guides had mostly been throwing streamers. No egg patterns yet. Meh. We decided to check out the Brooks River ourselves and even jaunted over to see the famed Brooks Falls, although there were no other guests (bear or human) present. We game planned to get to bed, destroy the breakfast buffet, rent some waders, then teach Manth how to fly fish (i.e., unleash the beast).

With bellies uncomfortably full and waders in hand, we got to the top of the river without another angler in sight. I was pumped – we’d have all this beautiful trout water to our own. I made the ill-advised decision to scope out potential starting points before tying anything on. Convinced that I’d found the money spot, I sat down on a log 25 yards away but by the time I had my fly box out, there was already another group (led by a fly-in guide) in my prized spot. It gave me a greater appreciation for how the bear world handles these situations (Death! Death! Death!).

DSC_0345

It was a sick log though

I quickly got flies tied on and hopped in the mix. It was a few minutes before I got to fish my spot but Manth felt understandably uncomfortable learning to throw a fly amongst the crowd. After changing around my fly a few times, I landed a few little rainbows and was just happy to be on the board. At that point, I had gotten my eyes trained to identifying the trout versus the various colored spawning salmon still lurking around. I spotted what, at the time, I thought was a big rainbow laid up on a green algal bed and I started throwing at him. I switched over to a streamer based on the outfitters intel and placed it perfectly in the fish’s field of vision. Not interested. I fed him again and saw him strike at it but no hook up. I sat there and threw everything I had at this same fish for another solid 30 minutes. In hindsight, I should have moved on but for whatever reason I couldn’t let that fish go. FINALLY, he took my offering and I landed my first satisfying-sized Alaskan rainbow.

DSC_0430

Having spent most of my trout fishing time in NC, I thought this was a decent fish

Maybe I have Dikembe Mutombo hands…

However, in the process, I had completely exhausted Manth’s patience as she sat on the bank in her waders, watching me hopelessly throw at this fish. Fortunately, I find patience and stomach space are directly proportional to one another (when one is full, the other is too) so I offered up an early lunch before heading back out to try her luck. After lunch, we decided to start at the opposite end of Brooks River, which is the end closer to camp, to avoid the upper river anglers. There, we started Manth on the arduous, frustrating process of learning to cast. She actually picked it up pretty quickly so we both started working the banks.

As we moved up the river, we became focused on a number of massive rainbows hanging in deeper pools along the far bank. Almost without realizing, two anglers moved quickly from upstream and also began throwing at these fish. Their guide was directing the action and telling them what to do. Manth was livid and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I understood the situation but I was also a little peeved. When the angler hooked a big rainbow that Manth had had her eye on, which then proceeded to literally run between her feet, she stormed passed the angler, while he giggled out his half apology. She took a few minutes to let off steam, then announced she was going to practice her cast upstream and away from these clowns… me included. I tried to keep her in my periphery, but she moved upstream faster than I and soon was out of eyesight and around a bend about 150 yards away. After a couple minutes of not being able to see her, I got uneasy with the thought of leaving her alone in the heart of bear country. At almost that exact moment, I saw her come running, or as close as one can get to running in knee-deep water, back into view. My first thought was that the Bear Training had been a total failure on us, but then I noticed she looked like she was trailing an outrigger on one side.

I high stepped my way up the river to meet her and, as we closed the gap, I could see what was causing the bend in her rod. It was a big bull dolly varden.

DSC_0450

In the infamous words of Loblaw…

DSC_0456

“FIRST FISH!”

Once she’d caught her breath, she told me that she was just practicing her cast in some rapids below the falls when all of a sudden she felt something at the end of her line. It took a minute to register that it was a fish and her initial joy turned to panic as she realized my quick tutorial hadn’t yet covered this step. Anyway, she was stoked about that fish and I honestly think it entirely redeemed fly fishing for her. Hoping to end on a high note and keep that fresh in her mind, we decided to call it a day and hit the dinner buffet.

After dinner, we hung around to have a couple drinks and play some Yahtzee (aka, the Game of Kings) at the lodge. Completely by luck, the only bear of our trip decided to stroll by the lodge and try his hand at fishing during that same period. Along with the dozen other guests hanging around the lodge, we  ran out to catch a glimpse (and some pictures) of the activity. When in Rome…

Sight fishing...

Sight fishing done the local way

The next morning we opted for a long hike to check out the “high country” before getting back on the river.

DSC_0609DSC_0661DSC_0690

Obligatory gluttonous lunch concluded, I ran over to the small shop on-premise to check out their fly selection. Since watching Eastern Rises years ago, I’d always wanted to “skate” mouse patterns to big rising rainbows. The shop had some large, pink mouse-ish patterns, so I had to give them a shot. As if to encourage me further, I heard a guy saying that mouse patterns never work. It was the same guy who told me to fish streamers. Either he isn’t doing it right, or he was trying not to let the secret out…

A slightly different, “Oh shit,” face than the one I had on later that day…

A slightly different, “Oh shit,” face than the one I would have on later that day…

DSC_0724

Mutombo. Hands.

I tied the same fly on for Manth and let her loose with the secret. A couple minutes later, she hooked up. The fish ran hard a couple times and we both held our breath the entire time hoping she wouldn’t lose that fish…

And (luckily) my knot didn’t pull either

Love at first sight…

Little did I know that it would give her bragging rights over me for the remainder of the trip (and beyond).

The one that didn't get away

Of all times for my knot to actually hold, am I right?

We didn’t have anything to measure with though, so I’m still calling it inconclusive. Anyhow, no longer satisfied with catching mediocre rainbows, we threw the mouse pattern for large trout the remainder of the evening.

Stoked about our success, we headed back out after dinner and figured we could get ~3 hours in before “sunset”. Over the next few hours, a few hookups but no landed fish only increased my resolve.

DSC_0749

My dream of fishing a mouse pattern under the overgrowth: fulfilled

Stupidly, I hadn’t been watching the clock closely as Manth pointed out it was almost 9:45. I realized we were on an unknown stretch of water that I estimated was halfway between the Upper Lake and the Falls. It would have taken us a long time to back track upstream and I certainly didn’t want to do it in the dark. I thought there must be a trail to bypass the Falls so we headed downstream.

After a couple belly button-high pools, I made the call to hoof it back on land and risk the bear factor over the swimming (at best) factor. At this point, it was about 10:15 and we were quickly losing light. The trail (maybe game, maybe human, maybe both) we were hiking started to part from the river and I was growing increasingly worried. I knew the general direction we had to push in order to hit a road, but I also was not excited to go traipsing through any pockets that didn’t receive frequent human traffic in this area. We stayed on the trail and saw the Falls viewing platform about 50 yards away. While that was somewhat relieving, there was still head-high grass and a minefield of bear wallows between us and that platform.

Singing as loudly and menacingly as I could, we started across the tall grass. I’m pretty sure I was either singing something from Aladdin (the scariest Disney cartoon I can think of) or the Thunder Song from Ted. Not being able to see where I was going, I accidentally stepped directly into a huge wallow and onto a long, dead branch at its edge. The combination of the wallow and the branch rustling the grass around me caused me to nearly shit myself, but I quickly gathered what was left of my composure and continued on… “Prince Ali, glorious he, Ali Ababwa!” At last, with waders wet from what I hoped was just swass, we got to the platform. Man, there’s no better feeling than the moment when you finally get to laugh about a situation that previously has your butt cheeks perma-clenched, ya know?

On the darkish walk back (~11:00), we decided to just fish the lower section of the river in the morning before flying out of camp. The next morning I landed one more decent rainbow, albeit not as large as Manth’s and that was it. All in all, we had a great time. Most importantly, we headed out of camp with a newly minted fly fisher(wo)man. From there, we went down to SE Alaska to kayak, camp and enjoy the beautiful Alaska summer for another 4-5 days before returning east.

DSC_0481

Back to watching shows about Alaska

Laissez Les Boutros Rouler

Svintos (aka Alex) and I have been fishing together pretty regularly this past year.  We’ve chased the elusive gatuh’ trout of the Texas flats, the giant bull reds of Louisiana and the glorious, 25oz Mexican delicacy in the form of aluminum breakfast tacos. Or Cheladas, if you want to refer to them by their Christian name.

Svintos and I just got back from Louisiana a few days ago, so it seems only appropriate to focus my first post on our Cajun marsh trips… and our first La trip was this past September.

Captain’s Log:  September 21, 2014.  Our first trip to Louisiana was last minute.  I didn’t get off work til 7pm on Saturday night, so we decided to leave as soon as I clocked out, grab the boat and hit the road.  We’d drive all night, catch a couple hours of sleep and hit the water around 8am for a full day of fishing on Sunday.  Unfortunately, Svintos had to work Monday morning, so we were going to have to leave that evening and make the 6 hour trek back to Houston.  Oh well, we’ll sleep when we’re dead.

We arrived at the marina and managed to get a little shut eye.  Despite our lack of rest, we were more than a little excited to hit the water.  After a season of slot reds in Texas, the idea of overgrown, aggressive bull reds had us salivating.  Our attitudes did take a slight dip when we loaded up the boat, however.  The wind was blowing 20mph and the water was around 1 to 1 1/2 feet high.  And dirty. Very dirty.

Aint' scared of no wind!

Aint’ scared of no wind!

No worries, two seasoned saltwater veterans don’t balk at weather. Plus we had sun!  We launched the skiff and started idling out.  Just before we jumped on plane we realized we hadn’t packed any of our aluminum fish-catching grenades, the Holy 25oz BudLight Cheladas.  We briefly considered turning around to grab some of that sweet Mexican nectar, but quickly chose to forego our ritual and head to our first spot… a mistake we would never make again.

Svintos shut down his East Cape Fury and began to pole the skiff.  The wind continued to howl as I made a few false casts to get warmed up.  Water clarity was awful; warm water, runoff from the Atchafalaya and the chop all contributed to a stained, brownish muck.  This was not good.  We checked another spot or two, only to find the same thing:  high, dirty water.  It’s simple, high water means the fish spread out and can be more difficult to locate.  Dirty water means you can’t see them, which is a fairly important aspect of sight fishing with flies.

We decided to change strategy and make a mad dash for the barrier islands just south of our current location.  Even with the strong south wind, we anticipated the north end of the island would be fairly calm and protected, and possibly have better clarity.

25oz of American...ahem, Mexican... Glory!

25oz of American…ahem, Mexican… Glory!

After stowing rods and the stripping bucket, we set off to find clean water.  There’s something to be said about gliding through a chop in a flats skiff at 30mph. It’s not exactly a smooth ride, but it feels good to rebel against the wind and tide: man and machine versus Big Water.  The sun is warm on your face, all stress and work-related worries vacate your thoughts.  Hell, we haven’t caught a single fish, but it’s early and we’re on the water.  How much better could life get?

I close my eyes and feel a sly smile creep across my face.  “Bring it on, weather!”, I think to myself.  My blissful state is immediately interrupted as Svintos belts, “OH, SHIT!”  My eyes jolt open in time to see a massive rogue wave overtake the bow and crash down over my head. Svintos took a direct shot to the chest, able to stay on his feet only by clutching the wheel.  As soon as I emerged from the salty bath I looked down to see the hull completely filled with water.  I spun around to confirm my comrade was still in the boat.  Svintos stared down at me, wild-eyed and drenched.  He uttered one offering:  “Bail.”

I sprang upward, grabbed the stripping bucket and began plunging it into the water-filled hull, bailing as fast as I could.  Svintos snagged a hand pump and furiously went to work in the stern of the boat.  The automatic bilge immediately started pumping to drain the partially submerged skiff.  We worked relentlessly in silence, very aware that we were still in open water, and another wave could result in a long, tiring swim.  Svintos had wisely left the outboard engaged and cruising forward as we bailed, keeping the bow high and above the breaking waves.  The skiff was dry in less than 60 seconds.

We began to rehash our experience as we collected the various items that had become dislodged during the near-catastrophe.  Everything was accounted for except for a single flip flop; not bad for what was nearly a sunken boat.  But we were alive and well, and it was only 11am.  We still had fish to catch, so we pressed on.  We arrived at the barrier island and discovered what we had anticipated:  the water was high, but it was much calmer on the leeward side and considerably cleaner.  Jackpot!

 

I've always been a sucker for a pretty face

I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face.

Svintos quickly jumped on the platform, eager to begin poling toward the nearest shoreline.  I armed myself with a 9wt fly rod and reached down to hand Svintos the push pole.  It was gone.  I immediately turned toward the stern, hoping he had grabbed it before climbing up.  He was empty handed.  Svintos was still scanning the water, looking for signs of bait or tailing fish.

“Man, the pole is gone,” I muttered.

Svintos instantly swung his gaze downward to where the push pole should have been.  Nothing.  We raced back to where we swamped the boat, hoping that we’d miraculously find the pole floating with the tide.  Nothing.  We motored around for nearly an hour, searching for any sign of the lost pole.  No dice.

Now this was a dilemma.  We weren’t about to sink, but without a trolling motor or push pole, we couldn’t fish.  How much worse could this day get? No fish. No flip flop. Now, no push pole? We contemplated returning to the marina, loading up the boat and limping back to Texas with our tails between our legs. This was not the Louisiana trip we’d had in mind…  Luckily, Svintos has a friend that keeps a skiff in the area.  After a few phone calls, we got the OK to borrow his buddy’s push pole.

Back in business! We grabbed the spare push pole and a few cold beers to appease the angry fish gods before heading back out to the marsh.  This time we decided to stay inshore and brave the dirty water.  No sense in risking another wild ride in the deep water!  We fished the rest of the afternoon and managed to scratch out a few fish before dark.

Svintos tempted this big Sheepshead with a huge redfish fly.

Svintos tempted this big Sheepshead with a huge redfish fly.

I’m constantly reminded how humbling Mother Nature can truly be.  The trip was full of ups and downs but we had an absolute blast and learned a lot.  Being prepared with proper equipment and outfitted with both automatic and manual pumps was the difference between a successful outing and a costly, dangerous experience.  We’ve made several more trips to Louisiana since our inaugural cajun voyage together in September, and each one has been progressively more successful.  And we’ve not once forgotten our Cheladas since that fateful day… not once.

Also, Svintos says push poles are expensive.

Sincerely, 

Boutros

blackwhitetail

Up close and personal.

 

"If I don't look at it, it's not really there."

“If I don’t look at it, it’s not really there.”

 

The Hunt for Red December

The Hunt for Red December.

 

Svintos (aka Alex) put me on my personal best fish at just over 30lbs this year.

Svintos (aka Alex) put me on my personal best fish at just over 30lbs this year.

 

Svintos releasing a Louisiana toad.

Svintos releasing a Louisiana toad.

 

Killing it with my new 9wt H2 from Orvis.

Killing it with my new 9wt H2 from Orvis.

Clearing the Air: A Prelude to Stoke City

First, I always find it hilarious that Stoke City is an actual Futbol (but, you know, not like actual football) Club in Europe, and every time I hear that name I have to chuckle. Makes me picture a big stadium full of super chill, albeit very stoked, surfers, rather than a stadium full of super rowdy, destructive, drunken English hooligans. I also have decided to use it as a descriptive term for a state or place where the overwhelming sentiment is stokedddddd. Second, I have to apologize for my extended disappearance from the blog. Trouble is that I had been in a prolonged drought. Luckily, that drought has since ended but it would be misleading for me to only posts my highlights… So, in essence, this post is my preemptively airing my dirty laundry before getting to the stokeeeee, bra.

Last Spring, I had a pretty well thought out post all teed up for turkey season, but apparently the turkey had other plans. They made that point clear with a couple emphatic lowlights for me. I don’t pretend to be a skilled hunter per se (or a skilled anything, for that matter), so I’ll go ahead and briefly share these two stories for your reading enjoyment… and, well, to clear my conscience. Feel free to not even read this post.

1. Samantha and I took a week vacation about two weeks into the six week spring turkey season. In theory, we planned to hunt 4 days of that week, but in the back of my mind I was hoping we could bag a turkey earlier and then relax a little. Ha. We actually called a couple gobblers in close and had them strutting at about 20 – 30 yards the first day. The woods were absolutely going off with gobbles that morning, but the boys we were working stayed just out of eyesight and I couldn’t get them to close that gap. In truth, I probably got desperate and over-called to them. We were set up along a sandy firebreak so we could definitively see track where they had been strutting on our way back to the truck.

CSC_0146

Scratching out a few love notes

DSC_0054

At least it was a beautiful morning in the woods

Anyway, we worked the same general area (and probably birds) the next two mornings, but to no avail. The last day we set up at a spot where the road met the firebreak, figuring that we had the tom in this area’s daily pattern more or less down. I set up the decoys about 15 yards passed us – slightly beyond where the two roads met – and we cozied up under an oak tree right at the corner, where the paths intersected. Samantha had a flight that evening leaving from FLL, which is about a 5.5 hour drive from where I hunt. Keep that in mind. Around 9:30, we both got a little antsy and I started feeling the pressure was on. I couldn’t believe that we’d had 4 days together – my big chance to get her excited about turkey hunting – and it had been a shutout thus far. (Not to mention, I still have not bagged a turkey of my own.) Earlier we’d heard some gobbling behind us to our right, so I thought we could quietly work counter-clockwise (to our left) along the firebreak and then circle around behind the birds and work them. We left the decoys and started stalking our way around and about 3/4 of the way around the loop, we heard a tom start hammering gobbles. Then we saw drag marks from his wing tips in the road. I called to him a little and he was hot but it sounded like he was still moving away. We tiptoed a little further, jumped into the brush and called to him. As soon as I stopped, I heard him gobble but at this point we were about 7/8 of the way back to our decoys. I thought it was a little weird that he’d be this keyed in to my hen yelps without coming in our direction, but figured it was because he was all henned up and the ladies didn’t want to change course. It then dawned on me, shit, from where he was he could definitely see our decoys in the road. We sneaked out and peaked around the bend but no turkey to be seen so we slinked back to our decoys. Tracks from a nice tom led me straight to the jake decoy first, which he had apparently taken some swipes at and nearly knocked over. Then he’d gone for the hen. You could see the sand on what would have been her butt if she were real… I couldn’t believe it. That tom had snuck in and banged our decoy. Normally, that would be ideal but I guess the point is that we weren’t there to watch (sounds pretty creepy, eh?) and put a shell in him for doing so. We tracked him a little further down the path and attempted to call him in. At this point, it was about 10:15 and I knew we needed to get on the road in the next 15 minutes or there was a good chance she’d miss her flight. Despite his run-in with the decoys, he was still raring to go. He was cutting me off in the middle of each of my yelps, and he was just on the other side of a stand of palmettos. I could hear him pacing back and forth as he gobbled but again wouldn’t or maybe couldn’t get in eyesight. As a last ditch effort, I tried to run around the palmettos and surprise him but he was long gone when I got there. With that, we tucked tail (a little too late for the lady decoy’s liking) and Samantha went home empty-handed.

CSC_0148

Covering some ground…

DSC_0092

…then gathering as many ticks on my body as possible…

DSC_0143

…but still turkey-less

2. Not wanting to let that tom go, I got back out there and tried to hunt him another time but didn’t get another good opportunity. Late in the season when I’d finally given up on that general area, I decided to head to another spot where I’d seen a lot of turkey activity throughout the year. This time my buddy, Cameron, was with me. The spot we went to is a well-canopied oak hammock that opens into a big field that had been clear cut not too long ago. It’s pretty ideal for these savvy turkeys as they don’t tend to like big open terrain (which is not plentiful in that area anyhow) but this spot has just enough to give the toms a nice zone for strutting will still giving them the safety of the woods nearby. There is a bottleneck that funnels animals from the canopied woods into the clearing, and at either side of the opening there was a pile of cut logs stacked about 3 feet high. I decided to set up at the far end of the log pile looking into the field and then have Cam setup perpendicular to me against a tree to monitor that bottleneck… Or at least, that was the intent. I then set the decoys about 15 yards beyond my and Cam’s spot so that any gobbler working the decoys would be in my line of sight from either direction (and well into Cam’s). The sun rose to my soft purrs, clucks and eventual cuts but the serenity was abruptly shaken by a nearby gobbler freshly off the roost. Just as I’d hoped. He was in the woods but I could hear him picking his way toward us. As I continued to pique his interest, my adrenalin started to pump so much so that I had the pre-shot jitters. I had that sense of anticipation that at any second the crackling leaves would give way to a fat, old tom in plain sight. Instead, the woods just fell silent. After a half hour of silent hope-turned-agony, I heard a gobble but this time it was well in the distance in the opposite direction of where I’d heard the tom. My heart sank. I finally whispered to Cam a few feet away, “What the hell happened?” He shrugged back to me and said, “I don’t know. Couldn’t see anything.” We sat for about another hour but I was too disappointed to keep hunting. When we got up and went over, the deep strut marks were clear as day in the sugar sand and not 10 yards from our line of sight and 25 yards from the decoys (probably equidistant from us). We could see he’d been pirouetting for the ladies, presumably doing his best one-man, interpretative dance to my calls.

DSC_0072

The sun setting on another day in the turkey woods for me…

DSC_0130

Hopefully this black bear had better luck than I

Sometimes, I think it’s the challenge of hunting that keeps me excited. Then again, sometimes I also think I just tell myself that because there’s nothing else to be excited about at those moments. Probably an element of both exists but neither answer satisfies my belly… Or my pride. Next year will be the revenge turkey tour and ensuing feast.

DSC_0050

Potential guest of honor for Turkey Fest 2015

Sixth Sense or Chelada?

So this past weekend I had a chance to get out on the water with two friends, Baron (3B Fly Charters) and Jarid (JM Fly Fishing).  Since I moved to Houston, Baron and I have gotten to fish together frequently and he’s one of the best anglers that I know and fish with.  Oddly enough, even though I met Jarid about five years ago when we were both living in south Louisiana, we had never fished together so I was pretty stoked to get out with him and Baron both.  I knew with two great anglers on my skiff, we would be in for an epic day.

Our plan was to get out for a half day and try to whack some fish and then head back to Jarid’s family’s house for a fish fry with the spoils of our outing.  We met at Jarid’s in the morning and crushed some scrumptious breakfast tacos Jarid had picked up to start the day.  I was already liking Jarid’s style and I immediately knew two things.  One was that we would definitely fish well together and the other was that he must take his Mexican breakfast experience to the next level.  Little did Jarid know of the rich sustenance in which Baron and I indulge at the start of each of our fishing trips.  We launched the skiff and rode out through West Bay and it was time for us all to bring our Mexican breakfast to a higher level.  Of what do I speak, you might ask?  That’s right, I speak of none other than the 25oz bud light chelada.  Yes, the bold, full bodied beer bloody mary with just the right amount of clamato twang is a staple in our fishing diet, giving us the strength to pole and fish the flats all day in any condition that mother nature might throw at us.  We popped open our cheladas and Jarid quickly gave his approval.  And thus with the strong nutrient of Mexican breakfast filling our bellies, the tone of the day had been set.  With a new energy and and a healthy buzz we made our way into the marsh in search of redfish.

We rode deeper into the marsh, killed the motor and Baron started poling an area that I’m not entirely familiar with.  Jarid inched forward towards the bow of the skiff and said “there are schools of redfish here, I can hear them”.  I thought to myself yes, that’s the type of optimism I like to surround myself with on the water and I shared in his optimism, especially following our excellent breakfast, that we would find many fish in the marsh that day.  Ahh yes, the redfish are calling… I day dreamed and sunk into thoughts of schools of redfish sucking down our flies.  Then as I saw Jarid look around and say “over there” and point over 100 yards to the other side of the marsh lake I realized that he was not just day dreaming of schools of redfish.  “Yeah, I see the shrimp popping”.  He had actually heard a school of redfish on the other side of the marsh.  Now was this the result of a sixth, super sense or fish sense if you will?  Or possibly the consequence of an epic Mexican breakfast involving tacos and cheladas, yielding strength to an already strong sense of hearing and sight?  That is the question I chose to pose to on this blog today because I cannot answer it.  While I have experienced the awesome power of a chelada early in the morning, my senses have never been so heightened that I could sense the presence of schools of redfish hundreds of feet away.  All I can say is that it was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen.  Baron pushed the boat as quickly as he could as Jarid pointed out what neither of us could see or hear yet and then when we reached within 40 yards we saw what Jarid had long ago sensed.  Shrimp were popping as a school of 6 or so redfish chomped down the shore line.  I threw the fly out in front of the school and waited for them to approach but then wait, something happened and they veered off course and I was not in the strike zone.  I tried to turn quickly to fire off another cast and then Jarid said, don’t worry, another bigger school is coming.  I wheeled around and another school was approaching down the same shoreline, chomping and with shrimp popping in front of them.  Jeez, this guy’s fish sense is ridiculous.  Baron positioned the boat and I fired a shot just ahead of the school this time not wanting to miss the opportunity and hooked up with a nice marsh fish immediately.

The result of Jarid's sixth sense... or chelada...?

The result of Jarid’s sixth sense… or chelada…?

The man with the sixth sense ( ...I see red fishes... )

The man with the sixth sense ( …I see red fishes… )

 

IMG_1464.JPG

Baron in a Mexican standoff with a bay fish

 

IMG_1465.JPG

Just another day in the marsh…

All in all it was a great day on the water topped off by an awesome fish fry with great company.  Z came over, we fried fish, played frisbee and enjoyed the rest of a beautiful day.  Jarid’s family’s hospitality and cooking were amazing and while I have a tremendous amount to reflect on an be thankful for in that day, my mind keeps going back to dwell on just one thing… Was it a sixth sense or do I need to start pounding more cheladas?