Mostly there was lots of waiting. Strip enough line off the fly reel for a long cast. Then hold the line, leader, rod, reel and fly in hand so as to be ready if something happens. Then stand in the bow of the flats skiff and wait. Then wait some more.


Yesterday as I fished, some tarpon would occasionally cruise across the shallow flat. I could see them roll sometimes, near or far, and sometimes our guide gave casting directions, urgently and loudly. I would cast, strip the fly carefully, and watch cruising tarpon not eat it. Frustrating.

The tarpon, which appeared to range from around 60 to 100 pounds or so, were determined not to eat. This firmness of fishy minds even extended to encountering my fly underwater and then carefully swimming around and past it. More than anything, this made me think of a Park Avenue matron stepping carefully around a piece of sidewalk trash. Each case–tarpon or matron–carefully avoiding some object of disdain and then continuing along some specific route, unruffled and undeterred.

It wasn’t that I was spooking fish, although I could make one dart, startled, if I slapped the line right down on it. Mostly we cast and fished pretty well. And after a few hours of frustration, said the hell with it and motored back into our base near Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Tomorrow we’ll try something different. Just what that will be, I don’t know yet, but stay tuned.

Meanwhile, all is not lost. This morning I got a hug from my young granddaughter, Cassie, which was worth all the tarpon in Florida. And I had a piece of fresh key-lime pie for breakfast. Could be worse….