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!!
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 love it when a fly fishing guide yells at the angler on Deck. Something about it that makes me feel good and I realize that this dude is not being a dick, he is just extremely passionate about getting the angling into fish. An angler does not see this that often, in fact I think not enough. I always want to know if I am doing something wrong or if there is a more effective way to do it. So please tell me and if you are my fishing guide tell me by raising your voice, stomping your feet and calling me an asshole for not paying attention. This is what happened on our first day in Belize. Our guide Ketchu, who was above and beyond the best guide at the lodge (my experience), was slow to warm up to us when we stepped on to the Panga at 7am. As we motored along to the fishing grounds he quickly stops the boat and yells tailing permit. Get your permit rod out. Well, the permit rod had the wrong fly on it as well as a shitty leader. That was not a good way to start. Cody got his ass chewed on the bow while I sat back and chuckled. Then Ketchu went on to give us instructions on how to strip for Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon. With our tails between our legs we poled along looking for Permit.
With the clouds and wind the fishing opportunities where there only when the sun would come out. Sometimes only 20 mins at a time. It was the only day when we had a legitimate shot at the Grand Slam and I attribute all of that to Ketchu. In fact we would have had the Slam if Cody didn’t screw it up. Haha. The best fishing quote I have heard in a long time came on that day of fishing. “A fish has a tail, the fish moves” Ketchu, when describing a charter boat fishing where he was catching jacks the day before on a different tide.
Here is a short video from our trip. One of these days I will be in the right place at the right time, but until then I will work with what I am given. Thanks for watching and I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.
My phone rang at 6:45 a.m. I had my hands full with baby Maco so I let it go thru to voice mail. “Joe can you travel Sunday thru Thursday?” was the message. It was Thursday Morning. They slow played me until about 11 am when I finally found out that the traveling would take place to Belize…. I am in.
The Belikin tasted delicious as we hopped on the Panga in San Pedro. The sun was setting over Ambergris Caye when we docked at El Pescador fishing lodge. We had 3 days of fishing planned and it was my job to make it look pretty on the camera. Of course my luck brought in cloudy and windy conditions for the first two days but we still, or I should say the, still got shots at numerous tarpon, permit and crushed bonefish. The biggest problem were the clouds and anyone who has done saltwater flats fishing certainly understands the importance of the sun. If you do not let me say this, the sun helps you see into the water, and the fish live in the water.
Our first Belikin was generally around 9am in the morning, which may sound bad to some of you but, it was purely to change our luck. That and I am always skeptical of drinking the water on an island. In fact I am confident that I brought home a little stomach bacteria that I did not declare at customs. Happens every time.
Our last day was the nicest day of the trip, calm and bright. Of course it was the last day. Cody was on the bow and I was on my perch giving him shit about his casting. But, I could not blame him. He was casting a Winston 9wt, which I felt like breaking over my knee a few times. The tarpon were cruising the flat everywhere. It would happen in waves, you would see one, then a group of six, then a few more. Naturally they were on different hands of the clock and it made it chaotic for the guy on the bow. ” cast 40 feet at 9 o’clock” “oh shit look there are a group of them at 2 o’clock moving left to right” line would be flying everywhere and the fish were totally safe. Finally we got our shit together and got the rod bent. Cody made a long shot and started to move the fly. BOOM. After about 6 jumps we had scales to the boat.
Stay tuned I am currently in the fine tuning stage of a video that I will post here when ready. Thanks for reading.