As we left the marina at idle speed I applied sunscreen to Gabe as he wiggled around trying to hide his face. He asked if we were going to an island first. I replied “I thought we would fish first.” He wanted to go explore.
I convinced him by saying that he could stand up front on the casting platform and I’d pole him around to explore the mangroves lining the shore of one of the spoil islands. He loves standing on the front platform and rarely gets to, so he agreed.
The wind was blowing at 15mph from the west with overcast skies. Tarpon fishing wasn’t going to work today. I told Gabe he could use the special rod. Instead of fishing with his garage sale fly rod that he beats around, today he could use the Powell 5-weight fly rod that Jim Nielsen had given us.
There were droves of mullet on the lee side of the spoil island, sipping the plankton and algae from the water’s surface. The fish were stacked on top of each other. As Gabe stood up on the platform and plopped his fly directly down on the school, they would erupt in every direction, and then gather again in the same general area.
I grabbed his life vest, pulled him right back into the boat and plopped him down. He was missing his Skinny Water Culture hat, but had held on to the reel. His smile never changed.
He quickly regained composure, and under my coaching, pulled the rod back and then reeled. The first time he got it close to the boat we could see that it was a sizable Redfish. That fish took off, pulling the line off the reel, a handful of times. After close to half an hour the tired fish was boat side.
We then went to the beach and had batting practice with his wiffle ball set. His hitting is definitely improving. With the wind at his back, he really got a hold of a few of them. I think he is beginning to understand to “keep your eye on the ball”. But, his timing is still a little off. Afterward we flipped a few rocks looking for critters, and then loaded back on the skiff.
When he woke up we went to the beach. Gabe ran to the first people he saw, which happened to be two girls around 20 years old, and explained to them how he had just caught a giant Redfish. He was talking so fast he had to repeat it five times before they understood what he was saying.
We swam around and looked for crabs, but about an hour later the storms started rolling in from the north, so we jumped up and ran back to the marina.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record but… man what a wonderful life!
P.S. Despite some tough weather this week we did manage to hook a couple tarpon. But have yet to get one anywhere near the boat. Gabe says he wants to touch a tarpon. I simply reply, “So do most people”!