Recently, I had the good fortune to spend a few days on the water with my good friend, Ben. As always, I picked him up at the Orlando International Airport and within an hour or two, he was tight on a redfish. Its become quite the tradition for us.
Ben is working on a new YouTube project and it was a “work trip” for him, so it seemed fitting to put him on the back of the skiff.
Here’s the result of that effort to get him up to speed with a push pole.
I’d say he’s well on his way to becoming a regular Pusherman.
In addition to stabbing a few fish in the face, we spent time talking about more technical issues like the following:
Make sure to follow Ben on his new YouTube channel, Huge Fly Fisherman, more content is on the way, including conservation issues facing Mosquito Lagoon.
Ben will also have his writings about the state of conservation efforts in Mosquito Lagoon featured in This Is Fly magazine very soon, check it out.
In fly fishing, I believe that failure is not an institution we believe in. At least not like most of the “normal” populace.
Who in the world would chase permit, for example, if they believed in failure? Really, its a low percentage game of tides, winds, fly design, fly placement and fly movement; and thats before we even consider the fish as part of the equation. I know plenty of people that have tried, yet have never hoisted a permit above the water for a quick photo before loosing it to have it swim away to fight another day. I’m in that category. Still yet, I have friends who have caught one, a year or two ago and they still pour money, time and frustration at the next one. Surely this behavior supports the theory, failure is not an option.
For sure, there are plenty of species other than permit swimming in water, all across this globe, that are targeted by fly anglers that often serve up these micro defeats on a daily basis.
Turns out, its what we love. How many times have you heard; “If catching them was easy, everyone would do it.”.
To a fly fisher the experience is paramount. The preparation, from the rigging of gear, selection of a “spot” and other environmental considerations are a big part of it. We study the angles.
Each experience we have on the water is a step forward to achieve a goal. Once it is attained, we reset the board and begin again. The reset can be triggered by capturing a fish or simply the lack of it.
Even when you’ve been wearing a skunk for weeks, it happens; you’ll still get up and get gear together and go tackle the day, in search of a little taste of victory.
I’m seeing that happen now with my son. He’s a skateboarder. He and his friends are cut from the same cloth that we are. To them failure doesn’t exist either. No matter the amount of pain, agony or otherwise, when they choose to skate an obstacle or learn a new trick, they are committed. They will try over and over again, until they achieve the success they’re aiming for.
As I’ve been spending more and more time with them, going to a skatepark or pulling into a random alley so they can flagrantly skate a ledge behind some business in the shadow of a “No Skateboarding” sign, I’m inspired by their dedication to the principle – Failure Is Not An Option.
A couple of his friends have recently picked up a fly rod and started using it more and more to chase backyard bass and even redfish when they can hitch a ride on a skiff. I know they’re well suited for it and hearing their outlandish stories confirms it.
Skaters are much like fly fishermen when it comes to documenting their adventures, if not even better. Perhaps its generational, but their affinity for video is second to none and they’re good at it.
My son worked for a couple of months to amass enough “footie” to put together this short video.
I can’t wait for him to get bitten by the fly fishing bug so I’ll have my very own “filmer” to chronicle our time on the water.
For now, I’ll wrap myself in the comfort of knowing that he has no fear of failure, actually he laughs in its face, and wait for him to join me on the skiff.
I recently completed a wonderful multi-day trip in Florida Bay, staying a few nights under the clouds and stars atop a Chickee in Everglades National Park.
The weather was a bit chilly and the wind was blowing near a gale for a good portion of the trip, but the fish didn’t seem to mind too much.
I’m no trailblazer in this regard. Lots of folks have been there & done that, as will many more to follow.
If you haven’t, drop it in the proverbial bucket and make sure you reach in and fish it out before you die.
Sitting in the dark over the clear briny water watching the bioluminescent algae flash in pulses reminiscent of lightning bugs on a cool August evening in Appalachia will enlighten you and draw you closer to nature in a way that is hard to explain. Its no wonder ancient tribes had such respect and viewed their environment in such reverent awe.
Below is a great example of an Over Night from Livit Films.
As you can see the opportunities in the Everglades are vast and friendships simply grow stronger there.
Now for the Public Service Announcement portion of this entry:
I run a tiller skiff. Its my preference when it comes to how to operate a vessel. I feel in touch with the water in a way that is hard to reduce to words. I respect it too.
Years ago, I was running a tiller skiff across a deep basin in an estuary in Central Florida when the lower unit collided with a marine mammal of greater mass. In the blink of an eye, I was sent headlong into the water as the skiff turned a sharp 45-90 degrees and was suddenly no longer beneath me.
When I emerged from below the surface, I was met with silence, but for the rhythmic splashing of my wake lapping the waterline of the skiff where she sat a few dozen yards away.
A great friend had always demanded the kill switch be worn when we duck hunted and the habit had stuck.
If it had not been for that switch and lanyard, I may have been in for a long swim or worse.
In a nut shell; if you’re operating a vessel, especially a tiller steering equipped skiff. ALWAYS WEAR YOUR KILL SWITCH LANYARD.
That concludes this PSA, brought to you by the wet guy dragging himself across the gunnel to fish another day.
Fly fishing gets easier the longer you do it. Just like a pilot’s log book, filled with hours of experience, most often translates into the airplane becoming an extension of you, the more time you spend on the water, the more naturally the movements become.
Fly fishing and flying are very similar activities in my mind. Both require attention to detail in the three dimensional realm and flawless execution to pull it off the way it was meant to happen.
An uncoordinated turn in a plane is akin to a sloppy loop, sure it gets you there, but very inefficiently and the result ain’t pretty.
Thats where experience steps in and creates flow and prowess. Hard work is rewarded by becoming habit.
A health dose of obsession can be the driver that separates the elite from the also rans.
The folks that go, no matter the conditions, are the ones that will develop the skill set that is ultimately going to deliver consistent results. There is no quit in them, they persevere. The drive and motivation they possess help them achieve the level of competency that makes them successful on the water.
If you have the desire and feed it, you’ll reap the rewards long term.
When I see a film like Obsession by Patrick Rhea I know he’s to be the kind of guy that is fully invested.
Watch him work, there is no wasted energy with false casts and he’s accurate and purposeful in his movement. Most of all, he’s having a great time and at the end of the day, thats why we all do this thing called fly fishing.
There is something about the south that draws you in and wraps its arms around you in a big comforting hug. From the mountains of appalachia where Southern Culture On The Fly is composed and published to the marshes of the Lowcountry where Flood Tide Co. calls home, there is a vibe that invites you into the fold like a long lost brother who’s home for the weekend.
Every time a new video drops, you know its going to be sweeter than molasses.