Long Days (or When Patience Pays Off)

Most of us can tell stories of how we caught fish on days when most other anglers didn’t bother to go out.   Two of the biggest permit I’ve ever guided clients to were on days when no one else went fishing.  The hardest part about going out on a bad-weather day or when tides and temperature say “Just stay home” is getting started–launching the boat, going through the steps to make sure all the gear is there and the skiff has ice, water, fuel, and the whatnots.  And often your instincts are right:  it’s just too damn hard to catch fish.

On the other hand, half of those days when you think you should stay home will produce fish.  And sometimes they really deliver.  The weather changes, the light gets just right, you come across a spot that looks like it has to have fish in it, and it does, despite the conditions.

At least five or six times this spring I got surprised.  I went out even when it was humpin’ a woofer.  And once when it was pouring rain.  Each time we saw fewer total fish than we might see in a normal day, but when we did find fish it was pretty damn good–the fish were happy and they would eat.  I may be kidding myself when I think that they are so catchable because they don’t expect us to be there.  But it has happened so often in 25 years of flats fishing that even the most skeptical among us should wonder.

Last week fishing with Rob Kessler in Key West, we busted our butts (or rather he busted his butt) fishing in a 25-knot wind to tarpon that really could care less about eating flies.  But eight hours in he suggested we try some permit fishing on the low outgoing.  Lemme tell you, when you’ve been poling around in a big wind for eight hours, it takes a certain amount of gumption to want to get up on a flat and look for tailing permit in failing light. But there we were, and there the fish were, and we were left with some images that will go down in the permanent records.

So there.