Saturday, May 21, 2011

A New Day

I spent yesterday prepping the inflatable with my friend Joe. We filled the baffles with air, WD40'ed the rust spots on the trailer, cleaned the boat, organized the life jackets and dug out the anchor. Given that the end was near, these activities were pressing. Fortunately "the end" that I'm referring to was not that of our planet, though concern is still warranted; I'm talking about the end of fishless tides and the beginning of a new day. A fresh season is creeping over the sand.

Photo by Runar Kabbe

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Key West rookie

Key West is one of those places that qualifies as legendary in fly fishing terms. The ecosystem is rare. The colors are extremely intoxicating. Key West is special and you feel it as soon as you enter the boundaries. Recently I had the good fortune to travel there on a product development mission. This trip would have me fishing with Captain Will Benson (World Angling) and Captain Bryan "Bear" Holeman. Our collective goals were to get acquainted, chase tarpon and to beat the heck out of some poling and sun glove prototypes. Suffice it to say that Will and Bryan are very good at what they do and we accomplished our objectives in addition to doing some shirt fabric trials while good weather prevailed.

Mornings consistently began with coffee and a simple oatmeal breakfast before getting picked up around 7am. The first stop was always Cole's Peace Artisan Bakery to get sandwiches and then off to the boat launch. Once the Hell's Bay skiffs were in the water with 12wt. rods rigged we were off to places in search of silver kings. One day when the tide slacked we did go search for bonefish and jacks but we usually just ate our lunch and rehydrated until the tide started moving. Common sightings of bull sharks, lemon sharks, rays, barracuda, sea turtles, frigates, osprey, heron, terns and a host of other life kept things interesting while our eyes scanned for tarpon. The day would stretch until the 6:30pm range before it was time to head back. The late afternoon light was pretty special because the lowering sun had the tendency to make silver kings look like giant golden idols. It’s no wonder so many people have been inspired to write about, film and fish in the Keys. It's an instant addiction.

I didn't spend too much energy on nightlife but the local dinning and entertainment scenes are noteworthy. I did take-out and spent the few remaining evening hours MacGyvering prototype repairs, recording details and catching up on life digitally before prepping for the next day, which would be announced by the local roosters wandering the neighborhood streets. When it was eventually time to go home I headed for the sleepy Key West airport and boarded my 8am Delta flight north. My last glimpse of the area was from high above. I could see that it was going to be another good day to be on the water.

As planes carried me back to Maine, even amidst the stark contrast and shear volume of airport mass media, I couldn’t shut off the poon imagery that I’d seen over the last week. Royal wedding buzz, Steven Tyler comeback stories and massive tornado damage tried to change my mind’s eye view but with no luck. Tarpon were now seared into my hard drive. I still keep seeing and feeling the power of this ancient fish. There are two other firm awarenesses that fishing in Key West has left me with; I know that I’m still a Key West rookie and I’ll be back.

Photos by Will BensonS. Stracqualursi and Bryan Holeman