Although the number of tarpon will diminish as the summer progresses, there will be plenty around later, however, thankfully, the number of anglers will really thin out. The fish that are in travelling mode, flooding into the Keys, don’t seem too keen to eat. At least not my flies. They gather and then do ritualistic schooling ceremonies, primarily in deep channels, where bait fishers have a much better chance than fly slingers. Then there will be the mysterious Paolo worm hatch, which is, or was, a fantastical sight, but it has become much like the main event of a circus drawing in rowdy crowds. After that I don’t know what the tarpon do, but the numbers drastically decline. I assume they go off to deep water to spawn. But a percentage return or remain, and those fish will act normal again, laying up in comfortable locations and eating flies that appear in front of their face. That is when I prefer to play along.
Trout fishing, of all things, is where my attention has been. I have an upcoming trip to prepare for. I have not seriously fished for trout since when I had summers off from school. Back then my father would set aside a few weeks and we would head off for the mountains of the SE US. With a tent in the trunk and a boat on the roof we, or at least I, had no idea where we were going. Mom and sister stayed home while beer and fishing rods took up the most space. Those were glorious times. It was on one of those trips when I first learned to fish for trout.
My introductory lessons were memorable. We were camping in a US Forest Service remote camp within reasonable hiking distance of a stream that obviously harbored trout. They were easily seen in the clear shallow water on the first afternoon hike. The next morning my fly rod and I were up early and on the water. I think that rod was around an 8 weight, but back then there were no numbers, just a short unintelligible string of letters. As to catching my first trout I failed miserably. On my dejected hike back I found a game warden waiting on the trail. He asked how I did. I gave him the gory details. He then asked, with an accusatory inflection, “You didn’t use corn for bait, did you?” I had no idea what he was talking about, but by his tone I gathered corn was forbidden. The next morning was a repeat of the first, right down to the ranger and the interrogation.
That afternoon we headed to civilization for supplies, probably for more beer, but I forget. What I do remember was that the fishing department of the country store was stocked with these tiny tins of corn, much like for tobacco snuff, and definitely too small for any type of meal.
The next morning I caught my first trout. Actually I caught a number of them, and I must admit I was appreciative of how well they fought. But, of course, I dreaded the hike back, and sure enough, the ranger was waiting. “Did you catch any this morning?, he asked. I said “Yes sir”, with a weak smile, fearful of what was coming next! He replied, “Good for you kid – it’s about time!”
I’ve been accumulating the odd assortment of gear for trout fishing that I am told is necessary: waders, boots, and some ridiculously thin leader material. I’ll wait for some real-time local info before I get the flies. But please forgive me: I will also have some canned corn to sprinkle in the stream. The beer and memories of my father I always have at hand.