It’s been a while. Where did I leave off? Oh ya, I left off in late August.
After spending a week in the Louisiana marsh as an instructor for Outdoor Texas Camps I had a few weeks off before I would be leaving for Florida in the middle of September.
Over the summer a friend made reservations to rent a house in the Keys for the entire month of September. He extended an invite to me to stay as long as I wanted. This isn’t the kind of opportunity that presents itself every day, at least not for me anyway, so I wanted to make the most of it. I checked my calendar and the only obligation was a friend’s wedding which was right smack dab in the middle of the month. That meant I either had to go at the beginning or end of the month. I chose the latter to maximize my time in the Sunshine State.
The end of August/beginning of September dragged along, but I took advantage of my down time. I received my captain’s license in the mail while at camp, so the first order of business was to purchase my Texas guide license.
I also had several odds and ends on the agenda including my logo (thanks Chase Hancock of SWC), website (thanks to Shane Alexander also of SWC) and business cards among other things that I needed to get squared away to start guiding full-time when I returned.
Shortly after getting my guide license I booked my first trip. Cole Elsenbrock and his dad were my guinea pigs. He booked a half day trip with me. He and his dad were relatively new saltwater fisherman. They wanted to learn how to be more successful on the water. Prior to our trip we went over tide charts and discussed the thought process that went into my decision to fish the area that I chose.
I had a hard time falling asleep the night before our trip. I had too many things running through my head. Would I be able to deliver? Would I be able to effectively convey my knowledge to others? Would I be able to share my passionate?
I was confident in my abilities, but still had my doubts. Being a successful fishing guide is has little to do with your ability as angler. As I laid in bed my mind wandered in and out of consciousness until I finally fell asleep from exhaustion.
The morning came fast and the weather looked grim. Summer squalls were forming and dissolving on the radar, but most of the rain was to our north. The uncertain weather did nothing to ease my nerves.
We had storms moving all around us, but it looked like we would get a window. As launched into overcast skies I hope Mother Nature would be kind.
Not long after I came off plane and jumped on the poling platform I felt the first drop of rain hit my head. One by one the rain started to drop progressively faster. The sprinkle turned into a downpour, so we put on our rain gear and fired up the motor and ran away from rain.
Not far away we found a clear pocket, so I jumped back up on the platform and started poling. We quickly found fish, but they were scattered and finicky. Despite the poor weather conditions we had a good time and they caught a few redfish including a nice upper slot fish. They asked a lot questions. I tried to answer all of their questions to the best of my ability.
A few days later I got the opportunity to fish with friend and fellow guide Captain Steve Soule. Steve has been very supportive once he heard I was going to become a guide. I can’t thank him enough.
We fished off of Steve’s skiff on one of his favorite Upper Coast flats. The nagging east wind and poor light made fishing a little tough, but we still had plenty of shots at some nice trout and reds. We caught a few redfish on fly each.
Brandon’s wedding was here in no time. The wedding was on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Boerne, Texas. The perfect setting for a fisherman and his bride.
The groomsmen were mostly made up of a bunch of fishing and hunting buddies. We were tempted to fish the river, but we were told the river was strictly off limits.
Two days and 1500+ miles later I was on aboard the Contagious in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. I watched on as Captain Brian Cone and his deckhand, Dan Naumoff, threw a large cast net into the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. In a few short throws the live-wells turned from white to black.
Brian fired up his twin 300hp outboards and we were on our way to the fishing grounds. Brian watch his chart-plotter and fish-finder as we neared the destination until he saw it light up with fish. Dan opened up one of the wells and started tossing baits behind the prop wash.
It didn’t take long for a herd of blackfin tuna to rise and start blitzing the surface. We tossed out baits with light spinning rods. It only took a few seconds and nearly every rod in the boat was hooked up. I had never caught tuna before. Blackfins are a blast on light tackle. In short order we had a mess of tuna in the box. We left them biting to look for dolphin.
We covered water searching for weed lines, but all we could find was broken weed. After covering a bunch of water we came across a seat of a chair that was holding a big school of chicken dolphin. We tossed our baits out and minutes later we were all hooked.
I added another first to the list. I had never caught a dolphin before either. Dolphin quickly became one of my favorite pelagic species after experiencing their acrobatics, speed and power.
(to be continued…)