I met Al Keller during the Polar Vortex in NOLA last January. Of course we had shit weather I was in town and I am now for certain that I am a bad weather curse. Regardless of how we met I was able to connect with him again in SWFL for a little tarpon fishing. Well… my dad fished and I watched. I held the camera and put together this short promo for Al, who is a terrific salt water fly fishing guide.
Just got back from a week of sun and fun with the family in FLA. Of course my wife wasn’t thrilled when I told her that I had 4 days of Tarpon fishing booked with Capt. Al Keller. But isn’t that the way is goes. I was excited to be on a skiff cruising around the mangroves but didn’t get overly anxious as I didn’t want to wake the bad weather curse that hangs over my head. We spent 3 days on Al’s skiff watching tarpon roll in coves and in deeper channels. I was bound to the camera but watched patiently as my dad made some shots a giant minnows older than all of us. On day 2 the old mans line came tight and the battle commenced. An acrobatic 100lb beast flew through the air about 8 times before gracing us on the starboard side of the skiff. high fives and laughter all around. Awesome.
Thanks Al for putting up with 2 Joe’s for a few days and congrats to papa mac on his personal best Tarpon on the Fly. A promo video for Al will be out shortly. Wait to you see these Jumps. Damn!!
Wifey just wants to lay in the sun at the beach. She tells me that for some reason it just makes her happy. Fair enough. I can do the beach for about 20 minutes and then I am looking for something to do, so little dude and I try to build a sand structure. We fill the buckets with crushed shells, tip them upside down and dig a moat around the cone shaped sand only to be toppled by his chubby little baby toes. Repeat.
Beach day is awesome, just enough breeze to keep the sweat from forming on the top of your lip, bright sun tanning our dry mountain skin and just enough cloud cover to give you a break from squinting. Perfect Florida weather…. 16 hours pass.
Laying in bed I look at the red numbers on the clock and realize that I might have had one too many cocktails at happy hour. My skin is a little tender from beach day and a tinge of heartburn stings my throat. I smacked the alarm just as it reaches 5:30 and walk out of the room. While lathering on SPF 50 i am thinking about the shots I might get at Tarpon, Snook, Permit or Bonefish. I can hardly wait. It is the right time of year, all the reports are great, the fish are here, “just got to stay calm and make a good cast” I say to myself.
The windows to the east look over the bay and the American Flag is not drooped silently like the morning before. In fact it is violently flapping, making a slapping noise. “Really?”
“maybe it is still calm on the gulf side” “maybe we’ll go into the back country” “or maybe we’ll just go for a $600.00 boat ride” all these ramblings go thru my head.
Seems like more times than not this happens to yours truly. And although I have been blessed with great days on the salt my fingers are always crossed when there is a charter booked well in advance.
For Thanksgiving wifey and I went to FLA to visit her parents. It was a fun trip and I had very little intentions of fishing. But, her dad surprised me with a half day trip he lined up with Frank Catino. I was pumped, I called Frank and chatted about what we would be fishing for. He responded with baby tarpon, snook and jacks. Awesome. Baby Tarpon Rule
The day came and wouldn’t you know it. Cloudy, very very windy and a high probability of rain. It was the day after beach day HAHAHA. Dave and I hopped in the car and went out anyway. Frank was at the launch and ready for us. We motored through a Manatee zone and chatted about the fishery on the Sebastian River. The Sebastian River is a very cool fishery I never knew existed. You can catch a Bass and a Snook in the same section of river. Baby tarpon grow up in the river and the scenery is much like a jungle.
We battled the wind blind casting at rolling Baby Tarpon and moved the fly under pilings looking for big snook. We ended the day with a few Jacks, lady fish and a Mayan Cichlid. It was a great trip and I learned a lot about an area I had never known. I like to believe that it is the fish gods putting me through the ringer. Pay your dues and you will be rewarded. Fair enough. I haven’t fished in saltwater enough to have everything go perfect and I don’t mind getting beat up time to time. The wind certainly is making me a better caster. Although there are some people who would disagree with that. Thanks to Big Dave for putting together a quick trip and also for all the rum punch that we seemed to consume. See ya in the salt.
Papa Mac and I walked down to the dock where Capt Derek Rust was having a beer with his buddies while he cleaned off his bay boat from an evening fun fish. He handed us an 11 weight and told us to cast at the bow of a 60 foot yacht. The marina tarpon were rolling around and we all watched them while drinking a few beers. P-Mac laid out a cast and jumped about a 40 lb poon before it spit the hook. We all cheered and continued with our banter. The very next cast a smaller fish 15-20lbs was on the rod leaping around the marina. Again we cheered and gave P-Mac shit while he was bringing the fish towards the dock. But, the marina poon met its demise when a giant boil/ splash erupted 20 feet from the dock and making the line go slack. Shark we all yelled. Then we saw it swim under the lights. A shark it was.. About a 500lb Bull Shark that just inhaled a tarpon in one bite.
For the next 2 days we fished from Derek’s Hells Bay Marquesa casting to everything we saw. There certainly was more casting then catching and for me that was plenty. When it comes to Saltwater Angling I am certainly way out of my element and I appreciate all that people teach me. I feel like I am getting a little better. It also amazes me how you can lay out a beautiful 70 foot cast when you are messing around but when a school of Giant Permit swims at you 50 feet away you become jelly. This happened multiple times. And although some considered the fly P-Mac and I got the Permit smack down. As we floated across a beautiful flat Derek said “somewhere this view is someones screen saver and here were are chilling in it.” And he was right. The dark blues, greens and turquoise colors popped against the light blue sky. It was perfect. Thanks Derek.
After a tragic week for the United States as well as for our family I have come to realize this — The wind/ sun on your face, being able to walk/ run, having a great family/ wife /kid(s), friends, smell of flowers, saltwater, snow, heat, rain, humidity, hangover, smiles, laughter, sad and angry. — are things that I have taken for granted at one point or another. Sometimes it takes a tragedy or an unexpected event for us to realize that we are all on borrowed time and that we should embrace and enjoy all we can. This last week I took a minute each day to focus on some of these things and appreciate what was present and not get angry at what was not. For example: A Giant Tarpon was present, but my fly was not. Never a reason to get angry in that situation. Frustrated sure but angry no way. Although I am sure Capt Derek might have been a touch angry. This was the first time I had seen Derek since his move from Tahoe. It was good to catch up and have him show us around his new stomping grounds. I was truly amazed on how much he has learned during his time down there. Just the massive body of water that is in front of you is intimidating enough, then throw in tides, water temps, currents, boats, motors, poles, shit I am already tired. Hats off to you Capt Derek.
Our trip to Florida this year was great, the fishing was a bonus. Our little boy “Maco” was walking on the beach and loved water. He even got to go on his first boat ride, although he was a little fussy with his life jacket on he loved the wind blowing in his hair. Little dude also got to see his Great Grand Father who is the original Joe. The four Joe’s got to hang for an evening and chat over dinner. Something that rarely happens. Wifey got to get her tan on which puts her in a happy place and overall it was just good to be around family. Fishing was a bonus.
Enjoy the spring it is a great time to be doing anything. Thanks for reading.
I was scrolling thru my camera roll and stumbled upon some images from our last trip to SW Florida. I must say that it was one of the best fishing trips I have had down there. Good Weather and Good Water Temps. It was also Baby Macs First dip in the Gulf of Mexico so that was really Radical as well. That’s right I just used radical in that last sentence. Now before I get going on this next part I want to get it out there that I love visiting my family no matter where they are and I enjoy spending time with them. But, there comes a time when a dude just can’t take going out to dinner anymore and this is where the lights come in. The lights are like a little fly fishing refuge and they play a huge role in the FLA visits. They allow you to do some fishing but also allow you to do the nightly dinner thing as well as the daily beach/ whatever the wife wants you to do thing. Although one would prefer to be on a boat all day looking for rolling poon, but this fat kid can’t afford that nor is wifey impressed when you are gone all day, believe me I’ve tried……. ahhh the lights. So this is how it usually shakes out.
1- Finish Dinner with the fam
2- A quick stop at “The Man Store” 7 eleven for some chew and beer.
3- We steal about 10 scoops of ice from the community ice maker and load a cooler
4- Hop in the boat and start cruising the bay.
Although you can pound the Snook from shore the boat plays a key role in getting into some great lights. Especially the lights on the southern part of Venetian Bay where it looks like an aquarium.
The program is simple see the snook cast to it and strip strip strip. Glass minnow is my go to bug, but last spring brazda was laying waste on something different. I can’t remember. Watching the fish chase your fly and eat it is really Radical (there it is again) but I have found that the bigger ones will generally eat it in the shadow. “Where the night turns to day” as we like to say.
The lights usually shut off around 1 am but we are always off the water by then. And if we are not well that means we are all in trouble. Last spring a couple of my good buddies Jeff Brazda, the Steelhead Jedi, and Lord Magnum were down in SW FLA and we got to spend some time under the lights.
Here are some shots from my mobile device. Not very good.