Archive for the ‘Feature Articles’ Category

The good-bye snook

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

One of my favorite authors, regardless of genre, is John Geirach. If you’ve never read his stuff, do yourself a favor and pick up one of his books — “Death, Taxes & Leaky Waders” being a fine place to start. Mr. Geirach contends that most anglers don’t want to hear lots of details about other people fighting fish, since they already know what it’s like to be on the other end of the rod. It’s a solid point that I often disregard.


Below Sunday Bay

Friday, November 2nd, 2007


You wake before the alarm sounds, moonlight through a window reducing the room to muted grays and blacks. You lay still for a moment, adrift in that vague place between sleeping and waking, your mind on the trip ahead. Everything was prepared carefully the day prior — batteries charged, cooler loaded, charts studied, leaders tied, etc. — so there’s time to snooze, but you roll onto your feet anyway, driven by an old, familiar excitement.


Short of Graveyard Creek

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

My cousin taking “skinny water skiff” to the extreme.

I was leafing through some old papers a few days ago, and in among the notes from lost loves and forgotten friends, I came across the photo above. It took me back.

It was taken in the early 1990s. The guy in the picture is my first cousin Shannon. At the time, we were single, lean and hungry, and our free time was usually spent on the water in pursuit of game fish, often in each other’s company. In the wintertime, our regular trips were curtailed by cold weather that drove the snook inland and emptied the flats of redfish. We’d both get the shack-nasties, so when Shannon mentioned that a friend was joining a large group at Graveyard Creek, a small beach down south on the edge of the Everglades, I was game. The agenda called for a single day of fishing and camping, so we loaded his boat with food, ice, beer, tents and tackle and headed down to join them, reports of an approaching cold front be damned. We towed his boat to a ramp at Chokoloskee, a sleepy little fishing town, to avoid a long run in kicked-up water. From there we roared south in the early afternoon, weaving along in a backcountry river, following a local guide in a little skiff. About a mile into the trip, the guide’s boat skipped over a submerged oyster bar. We weren’t as lucky.


Rainbow Trout in the Tropics

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

A friend recently sent me a link to an article in the NY Times about fly fishing for rainbow trout in, of all places, Costa Rica. That comes as a shock to most trout anglers, but not to me. I lived in that wonderful little country for about seven years, where one of my dad’s best friend’s was a zany, immensely talented veterinarian who, among other things, pumped his sickly Doberman so full of steroids that it grew to the size of a Chincoteague pony.


Into that good night

Monday, July 30th, 2007


He was 4th generation Floridian, a hard-scrabble farm boy whose family made an honest living in the state’s cow country, a placid region located between the open, rolling fields of the panhandle above and the vast wetlands of the Everglades below. He grew up among the fading remnants of the Old South, where he was taught to cherish natural wonders and the region’s beautiful and vilified past. His was a world of shotgun shacks, spring-fed rivers, moss-laden live oaks and a unique backwoods culture that harbored a fading innocence now mourned by few. As the child of dyed-in-the-wool Baptists, he considered the words aimed at souls in rough-hewn church pews by high-pitched, piney-woods preachers, and his faith blossomed. He was vibrant and full of promise.


Tempting Fate

Sunday, July 1st, 2007


Lightning can quickly lend perspective to a great angling opportunity.

It was a hot day in late September, the time of year when I can be found once or twice a week stalking the shallows of a favorite flat. Big redfish tend to school up then, and the fishing can be sensational. When the (rare) opportunity presents itself, I check local radar, hit the door running at closing time, fly home to grab my gear and head toward a local bay just as the heat starts to wane.

After unloading the skiff I took a circuitous route to a favorite flat. The sun was dropping lower and the shadows lengthening, a precedent to the hour or so before sundown that is often the best time to fish. I cut the motor before bottom showed under my hull, trimmed it up so the skeg acted as a rudder and lowered my trolling motor. As I went through my pre-casting routine, I heard a menacing rumble in the distance. By that time the water on the flat had slicked out, the sun had fallen low toward the horizon and big wakes were starting to show off my bow. I clicked the trolling motor onto the slowest speed and scanned for signs of tailing or cruising fish, turtle grass flicking softly against the underside of the hull. I was in my element.