On a cold January morning around five in the morning, I was waken up by my dad as he told me to get ready to head on the skiff to the marshes. The fish that day were hitting hard early morning and we couldn’t resist the possibility of large reds roaming in the flats.
As I step outside into the crisp air of north-east Florida with my fresh brewed Colombian coffee in one hand, and my eight weight fly rod in the other, I can almost feel the tension in the air for what the following day will hold. Visibility was down to around 10 feet from the morning mist. Being so thick it felt as if you were walking in slow motion. Almost dream like. My coffee was steaming up adding to the mist as I fed my sinking line through the eyes of my fly rod. Opening up my box of tangled flies and fur, I searched for what I wanted to target today. Should I go for a crab pattern and search for sheepshead? A white shrimp and sling near oysters for trout? My hands glide over the wolf and deer fur mix when all of a sudden I see it. The infamous clouser. One fly to rule them all.
A short drive out to the boat ramp we finally arrive to our beginning destination. Backing the trailer down into the muddy ramp, as we’ve done so thousands of times, seems like child’s play at this point. Straps off, back the skiff down, slight stop. The outboard roars to life with the slight flick of the key and the sound of the engine slices through the empty river. We fly through the tributaries and out into the main channel looking for flooded flats that should be fairly close by. After arriving to our first spot we kill the motor and cruse into the tiny 6 foot wide finger creek scouting for signs of redfish as our skiff bumps into the black marsh. After just 5 mins we spot our first tailing monster.
I strip out a few feet of fly line and lazily lay it on the deck of the skiff and begin my first false cast. Back and forth, back and forth, I sling line out trying not to rock the boat to hard and managed to present the fly just 5 feet from the biggest tailer. My hands were freezing from the slowly warming waters as I strip in the green and white clouser slowly to mimic the action of a wounded fish, in hopes the slow beasts will go for it. Strip.. strip.. twitch.. strip… The biggest blue spotted tail of the group was intrigued by my presentation and started to chase. The slight pulls of oysters nicking my barbless fly I slowly bob over obstacles underneath. Strip.. strip… All of a sudden a juvenile red caught a glimpse of my fly and darted out towards it and swallowed it first. SET! The fish pulled on my line as my wet fingers desperately tried to grip the line, all the while my dad was hollering trying to make sure the fish doesn’t run under us. After a short fight we bagged the fish and took some pictures for a few seconds then gently released him back into his habit.