Saturday, August 20, 2005

Return To Key Island Estate

A quick note to report that two days fishing here August 18 and 19 yielded 32 snook and 3 pompano- all on a sight-fished basis. Their website is . I do not recall seeing tailing pompano anywhere, but on these soft Gulf surf flats, it's a sight to behold. Not easy fishing, when the pomps and cruising snook have such a biomass-forage on nature's buffet table.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Miguel clearly was making a course for what he called the "lighthorse", but on the way to a meeting with his roan stallion, the water in front of us erupted in all directions with the splashes of gamefish carnage. As we got closer, I made out some half-airborne blackfin tuna savaging what looked to be a form of sardine.

Out came my trusty traveling spinner- two pieces of rod became one. I threaded the eight pound line and forty pound mono leader through the guides with shaky hands, and grabbed one of the tiny homemade jigs Miguel kept on the helm. One quick improved clinch knot, an open bail, quick cast, and rodjerk was all the time it took to tell you now that I was hooked up back then, almost forty years ago, to my first blackfin tuna- a fish that runs like an Indy Car. When the arbor of my reel made an unwelcome appearance on this show of shows, I tapped Miguel and told him in Spanish( a mixture of anxious "signing" and utterance) to come out of idle gear and follow the fish. He did. I regained precious line, and as Captain Buck Starck-my Islamorada mentor- put it, "got well."

Eventually, the silver and black battler came alongside and he gaffed the fish expertly in the head. We looked around us to find more striking tuna, but the calm sea indicated the tuna had moved on in their typically hit and run tunahood.

Miguel smiled and motioned for me to sit down. He pulled the tuna onto his cutting board and with his razor-sharp cuchillo started slicing shoulder strips off the still-quaking tuna. He cut the skins off the strips and laid them on a plate. He dug out a small bottle filled with what looked- I hoped- to be salt and pepper and lightly dusted them. He held the plate my way and said, "take!" I did, and had my first sashimi experience. I knew the Native American idea, and maybe Aztec, too, that when I ingested my trophy, it became a part of me and vice versa. So, I tunaed my way through a bunch more tuna strips. Water was turned down for the iced Carta Blancas I brought onboard. One beer was just right. Dessert was naranja y manzana- orange and apple.
As I happily crunched away on my apple, Miguel put the vessel in gear.

We had not even arrived at the "lighthorse" and yet the day, the action, was full and fulfilling already...all the rest would be a Mexican gravy on our Cozumel enchilada, back in time, before the time this place would change. Who knew what lay ahead of us, but who ever does?


Friday, August 12, 2005

Tarpon ad infishitem

Miami's reeling with tarpon-in both senses of the word. Fish everywhere- I left them after catching 7 fish from 40 to 100 pounds all before 10 a.m. For those basin tarpon, take a hint from Key West harbor and chum the fish into excitement. MOST IMPORTANTLY, BRING SCHOOL SCISSORS AND CUT OLD FILLET AND CARCASS CHUM INTO MINNOW SHAPED STRIPS----YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THE RESULTS!! They think they're eating killed whitebait. This is simply a re-embracement of the old match-the-hatch theory.

On the low tide when the tarpon are off the flats and holding in the channels and bays, look for baitfish schools in those areas. I often use mullet as bait in High Summer since the tarpon are not eating winter shrimp. Thy're staging for the mullet run, and looking for oily finfish. I scissor cut the mullet into minnow shapes and chum "on anchor." This gives a steady stream of what looks like the dream of minnows from heaven to a tarpon!


Saturday, August 06, 2005

I Fall for the Fall

Excitement takes many forms, but really kicks in high gear for future anticipations. My favorite Bahamian island is Abaco...the diversity of environments and habitat are incredible. A user-friendly island with superb flats and offshore fishing. Its got sounds, outside keys, history, great resorts, cottages, and wonderful guides. I'm pleased to be headed to Bluff House( on Green Turtle Key (home of some monster bones) and fishing with well-known Capt. Ricky Sawyer ( . With anticipations like these, who can go wrong?


If you get to Skagway......

I'm well towards accepting that certain feelings and impressions have a relentless way of impressing themselves on the mind again and again....yearning reveries are in that category, so my dreaming of Alaska's mists, mountains, bears, whales, salmon, halibut, ulu knives, berries, light nights, hearty food, treetop majesties, chilly mornings, smokehouse scents, and a thousand other companeros acknowledges another "move-in" upstairs, alongside all those other places in the world's four corners that attest to a life that can pinch itself as the camera rewinds the tape as it's over and can proudly say, "yes, I've been there."

One "zoom" in my reveries is the town of Skagway way up in the Inside Passage. This is one "movie set" of a mining town that seems to have been preserved for the pleasures of commemorating that life-wooden store and hotel fronts, a locomotive with a face sporting a circular spinning bore device, squared -out easily plotted streets. Although cruise ships dock here, they are a mile's walk from town and do not intrude. In fact, I was one of the first off one chilly morning and my walk to this and any other new place was filled with that special cluster of feelings and sensations so familiar they could almost be named.

Just before town, there's a stream that runs under the path via a culvert. The water there is the icy-misted medium colored by glacial silt. I looked downstream and saw a fish jump, and then another, and another. I ran quickly to the stream side and got a heart-pounding look a loads of large king salmon from 20 to 30 pounds struggling their way upstream. My companion was mentioning something about catching the train up into the mountains and Liarsville, but the voice was so far off it could have been a surfer off of Southern Cal. My only thoughts were focused on grabbing up my rod, reel, and lure...........more,soon.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Transitioning Back To Summer's Heat

Still nursing a case of homesickness for Sportsman's Cove back up in Ketchikan, Alaska, I headed out in dawn's heat this morning. Thunderheads over the Gulf Stream lit up with lightning like bully bladders, but were so few in number that the yellow and blue dawn and scorching sun evaporated them effortlessly. To the west, and down on the Bay, I found the tarpon staging in the expected area. I jumped one and released another of fifty pounds. Ladyfish showed up to savage some pilchard schools, and i caught enough of those silver speedsters to go for a change of pace. A quick run to a grassflat, which I worked with twelve pound plug and a YoZuri popper yielded a 12 pound barracuda. Also saw a huge school of jacks around fifteen pounds on the move, but not eating. Steady...steady...not far away are fall tides, a few tropical weather systems with freshening wind, and the blessing of the fall, the mullet run.