Revive - A Quarterly Fly Fishing Journal - Page 96

After what seems to be hours being eaten by the bugs, but in reality is really more likely only 30 minutes, our skiffs propel us away from the marina to the safely of the water and we close in on the rising sun, heading south and away from the clouds of bugs who instantly turn their attention to the other anglers who have yet to find the safely of the water. We head towards the mouth of gulf for nearly an hour, far out of cell service and past any other angling pressure, running close enough to the shoreline that we can wee the marsh birds fishing for breakfast and alligators slipping off the sandy beaches in the water. On the horizon sitting on top of the flat, protected water of the marsh, we see breakers crashing on what appears to a spit of sand that reaches a maximum altitude of approximately six-inches above sea level. Here, in the midst of the whitewash of the surf with our skiff bucking with each breaking wave, Dini slings flies with a 9-weight rod (and pilots the boat with one foot while balancing from the back casting deck with the other) to a pod of bull reds that number near the triple digits. Two casts, 60 feet, and about 5 minutes later, he’s boated a bull red that he dismisses as “average”. He estimates it weighs 20 pounds. By most anyone else’s measure, this specimen would be a trophy.

Lured by the prospect of capturing footage of bull reds smashing poppers mere feet from the skiff, we make the teeth-rattling run against the wind-churned swell back into the protected marsh. We patrol the shoreline, propelled by Capt. Paul Lappin’s push pole. Greg’s penetrating stare from the front casting platform is unwaveringly focused into the stained water. He sees fish ahead and alongside the boat that we never see until their only sign is a puff mud in the water. The storms have stirred up the water, and areas typically prime for sight fishing are a mess with suspended sediment churned from the soft bottom. Undeterred, Greg does not lose focus on the water or the fish ahead of the boat and makes quick, short casts to fish less than fifteen feet from the bow.