Before all this COVID-19 fun began, Foss and I were due to make a Miami run and the weather was lining up to be a solid day. My good friend Johan, had a few open days and said “leave your boat at the house and just ride down and I will push”. Did not have to twist my arm to get a little bow time. Foss and I loaded up at 1am and we were southbound and down.
It was a typical day for this early in the year, winds from the northeast and plenty of sun. Thankfully there was a warming trend from a light cold snap so the fish were back to being happy. The excitement is palpable as we begin to see the guitar shaped Hard Rock hotel. Not far behind are the high rise building of downtown Miami. A quick phone call to Johan, “Hey boys, y’all are early!” he said. “Naa we are just ready”, I replied.
We load up our stuff, catch a few of the boat ramp antics as we idle out before Johan puts her on plane. There is nothing like feeling those emerald waters beneath your feet as the warm South Florida sun hits your face. Love our Florida winters. The run across was easy. Just a slight roll and a tiny bit of chop. We were planning on hunting tailing fish early in the day and then move as the tide changed.
Two is a crowd
Foss and I have spent countless hours on a skiff, panga, bass boat. You name it, we have fished it. So although Johan was a little hesitant, he was impressed we could simultaneously fish on the bow. I took the high post on the casting platform as Foss hanged ten on the nose.
My first shot at a large tailing fish was a no go. First cast was good but a little off the mark as I didn’t trust the wind. A quick pickup and put back was right in the zone, “I don’t think he saw it”, Johan barked. I felt the same. The fish just never reacted, just kept on his way as he moved out of range.
The next fish came in at our two o’clock. Rather than spinning the boat, Foss took his shot with the spinning rod. Good cast, two hops and the fish blows out. oh well. We stalked a few more fish over the course of the next hour or so and as we approached the edge we saw a small group of fish patrolling an old prop scar. I passed the backhand shot to Foss and with a great cast he was hooked up. Two strong runs and the fish was boatside, unhooked and on his way safely.
Good time to move. We made a short and an adjustment to the plan with the shifting winds. I was on point and had a nice shot at incoming fish. The fly lands, a fish shoots out of the group, pins the fly. I come tight but only for a split second and he is gone. My follow up shot, went ignored. Shit. No time to sulk.
A small pair are approaching just as the last group. It was an exactly replay of the last shot but once I was tight, he was mine. Certainly not the size we were looking for but just a little singing of the reel before a quick boat-side release and I was all good.
After sticking a few fish we decided to go look at some new water we had been eyeing. It was a little bit of a run but no one seemed to care. We exchanged a little time on the poling platform just looking and getting a feel for the area. It is always nice to see how the water moves across the flat, the sun angle, bottom topography. It all matters and something you have to see in person.
We did start seeing some larger singles and once we got Foss in range it didn’t take long. This was a little better fish and had the attitude of his big brother. Jason was pulling away at this point but no one is really keeping score.
The last stop of the day gave me two shots at really big fish. Admittedly, I botched the first one. Just misjudged it. We were nose to nose and as we were both closing in on one another. The cast long and leadered him right down his back and the fly just past his tail. I wasn’t happy. That was the big fish I wanted and blew it.
Thankfully I did get another chance but this one wasn’t to be either. It all lined up right, cast, angle, fly swung in and he just wasn’t having it. As the sun was getting a little low we decided to make our way off and see if we could get one more shot. As I mentioned earlier, Foss had been on, and this final shot was no different. Same shot, 2 o’clock moving to twelve…good cast. Great eat!
As he was fighting the fish I call out a shark, he was a little ways out but knew something was up. Thankfully, we were able to keep the boat in between the two and as Johan hustled to close the gap between us and the Bonefish, Foss added a little extra pressure that would either bring him in or break him off safely. This is one of the reasons we carry a net. We got just close enough to net him before he decided to make another break for it which could’ve done him in.
We supported him in the net as we pushed off the flat to the point we could lower the motor and idle away. Once we moved to an area that was all clear Foss hopped out and got a quick photo before releasing him.
Just another great day with even better friends. A long ride home but reminiscing about the day on the water guides us home safely.
From The Endless Flat,