Of the charter clients that I push in the Lagoon, a vast majority of them are either new to the sport or looking for that first redfish on fly. I treat it as a great honor that many choose me to help them venture into a new sport or challenge of fly fishing and have the confidence in me to deliver that first redfish on fly. I have always enjoyed a challenge – whether in my has been days of baseball or during my day job and especially on the water. It creates an incredible high from accomplishment and the bond and friendship created between client and guide it unmeasurable. I live for that moment when the client’s hands are shaking as they hold that first Redfish on fly.
Enter Pierre, not new to fishing but brand new to fly fishing. Brand new as in, only hard work, no fish yet, not even a panfish. Needless to say I had my work cut out for me. The good news was, he is an excellent Bass and inshore angler, so he understand fish, movements, what works with the conventional tackle, now all we needed to do was get the fly in front of some willing Redfish and seal the deal. Not always an easy task with our snooty Mosquito Lagoon Redfish.
One of the things that seems to help on the water is a little dose of beginners luck. Not that you have to be a beginner in fly fishing but maybe you have never fished saltwater or caught a redfish on fly, a little beginner vibe helps us all at one point or another.
In addition to being new to fly fishing we only had a short half day to get it done but remember, if it was easy everyone would do it so off we went. Good news, the weather was excellent, a little bit of cloud cover but calm winds helped show a fish pushing or a shy tail barely breaking the surface.
At out first stop we sorted out all the kinks, talk about using 12 o’clock, 9 o’clock… you would be surprised at how few people understand analog time, especially when the excitement of sightfishing takes over. We talked about some basic casting dynamics and explained proper stripping techniques and how to lay line out. Good to go.
The first shoreline we stopped at was one that has produced time and time again with beautiful scenery and happy fish. It was a beautiful March morning. Wading birds and active bait greeted us as we pushed the first 100yds. Anticipation was high and being sure to help Pierre settle in and let his casting practice take over is always you want to work on with a new angler. They are constantly thinking about trying to do everything right that their mind can get in the way. As I called the first few fish out I could tell a little bit of buck fever was getting the best of him but it was early and he was easily seeing the fish so it was just going to be a matter of time.
As a little stroke of luck would have it a group of smaller, confident tailing fish approached the boat and both of us saw them from at least two cast lengths out. It gave Pierre a few calming breaths to get ready and with two false casts let his shrimp imitation go.. “Great cast, let it sit as they move in, small strips, smaller, keep coming… he’s got it!” Strip set and it was on. A few short bursts and a beautiful small Red made his way safely into the net. The elation and deep breath took all the weight off his shoulders for future Redfish. With shaky hands he gently held the fish for a photo and eased him back into the water and a quick tail kick, he was gone.
High Fives and welcome to the Sickness!
A few more good shots as clouds continued to build and one last Redfish to hand before we had to head in made for a wonderful beginning to a new addiction for Pierre. He’ll be back.