Salt Life Brah

Admittedly I'm a salt novice. I can count the number of trips on one hand and all have been diy, leaving me with nothing more to show for my efforts but some smallish Sea Trout. Like almost everything in my life, I feel the need to go about things the hard way. Figure it out myself and accept that failure will most likely be my immediate friend and success will be that much more rewarding. Around the beginning of February Kyle and I started to throw around the Idea of heading to small island off the gulf coast of Alabama in search of Red's. We scouted the location for prime spots, made sure the tides were right, and had a pretty damn good idea what flies the fish would be eating. We decided that water temps should be high enough toward the end of March that the Red's would be making their way out of the creeks and into the bays where we could potentially have a shot at a few decent fish. I felt like we really did our homework. As the dates grew closer, the forecast started to look bleaker. No matter how much you plan and do your homework you can't control the weather and I knew this trip was setting up to potentially be a tough one. As the departure day finally arrived it was apparent that the forecast was going to hold. And not in a good way. We fished the first three days through brutal winds and intermittent rain. The front that brought the rain also brought cooler weather, causing the water temps to drop significantly from the previous week and the fish were nowhere to be found. On the last day the sun finally broke through the clouds and the winds laid down enough to make conditions manageable. We found an area on the bay side of the island that was wadable and finally after three days of brutal condtions and pure frustration, Kyle's line came tight to a Red. It wasn't a giant by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a fish nonetheless. There were some high fives and a few photos snapped and the fish was sent on his way. Not the result we'd hoped for but definitely another notch in the belt.

I suppose one day I may come to terms with the fact that my stubborn nature may not always be the best approach. But I doubt it. Figuring things out the hard way has always tickled my fancy and I feel like next time I'll be better prepared from having the experience we did. The salt is a fickle mistress and I can't wait to get back and make her my bitch!

Getting Salty

I’ve spent most of my fishing days meandering mountain streams and exploring rivers. It seems like I could spend a lifetime exploring new waters. About 5 years ago I made the decision to give up all other hobbies to only chase fish with a fly rod and I continue to find myself shedding obligation, interest and responsibility for that pursuit. Years ago I remember salt water fishing as being foreign to me. I focused primarily on the fresh water species that were closest to me and easily accessible. Some years ago I caught my first snook on a spinning rod fishing Sarasota Bay on a family vacation. I was blown away with the power these fish had. It fought like it was twice its size. I was a bit intimidated by the idea of chasing salt water species on a fly rod honestly. I was completely out of my element. Fast forward to this year and I find myself obsessed. I took a spur of the moment trip to South Florida and found myself in a boat with an acquaintance I met through trout fishing here in North Georgia Mountains, Ren Stanley who now operates Serenity Fly Fishing. With his local knowledge and advice I was casting to my first tarpon. Albeit a small one, it was a trophy in the ways of an accomplishment for me.

Seeing that fish roll and placing my first cast will be a moment I won’t ever forget. I had about 90% doubt that fish would ever strike. But after three short strip of line, my mind was once again blown. Of course my mind wasn’t the only thing blown. Because I also blew the hook set. Relearning everything you’ve taught yourself targeting freshwater species isn’t easily unlearned and replaced. What was most shocking was once again the power these fish have. When I returned home I tried to explain it to my buddy Gene, his best fitting comparison was: It’s like hooking a fly to the back of a mini bike and having someone hammer the throttle.

The only thing more disappointing than losing this fish is the fact I didn’t pursue salt water species sooner. Looking back on all the places I’ve travelled in my lifetime without a rod is now my biggest regret. I aim to fix that.