Monday, February 2, 2015
That was a great way to start, but again, it almost didn't happen. On his way to meet me, Dave was rear ended at 75mph on the interstate by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel. We lost some time there.....but no major issue. We unloaded the yaks on Boca Grande (Gasparilla Island) and talked about my goals for the trip - I wanted to learn the water and catch a few fish. As we were prepping gear, Dave threw out a line into the morning fog and gave me the line. As he was passing it, a fish hit the lure and I retrieved the fish with very little run on the drag....my first Permit! Of course, my camera was packed up in the kayak next to me...so no photo. When I threw it back in the water, a great blue heron appeared out of nowhere and nearly snatched the fish before the fish dove out of sight. Interesting.
We set out around the mangroves of Boca Grande Pass. It was astonishingly beautiful. Clear water with about 80% seagrass cover. About 20 minutes into our paddle, I wondered why we didn't see fish. Dave pointed at a mangrove island in the fog, "That's our redfish spot." As if on command, a pod of dolphins emerged right in front of the island and started flapping furiously. Dave's paddling didn't break stride, "And there went our redfish." I started to realize that we were seriously competing with other predators for these fish.
We ended up on an open pass with several "bowls" of unvegetated sand in about eight feet of water. We fished for about an hour with no bites, and honestly, my arm started to hurt from the constant long-distance casting. I started to second-guess my "artificial lures only" attitude, thinking that we'd probably be overrun with biting fish in this lush habitat, if only we were using live, stinky, twitchy bait. But....that decision had come and gone. No live, dead, or cut bait today.
At that point we had been out for five hours and I decided to call it. We enjoyed a steady paddle back to the launch over clear, azur water. Sheepshead had moved into the shallows and were zipping about. At the launch, we figured out that we had not closed the van doors tight, and Dave's battery died. With my wife in the truck on the island already, we attempted but failed to charge him up. We left poor Dave there, awaiting a new battery from the auto supply store on the mainland. What a trooper. What a day he had.
At the top of my list for our next trip to Florida will be another fishing day with Capt. Dave Martin. Can't wait!