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.
Recently, the family and i loaded up and headed north to Charleston to meet up with other friends and attend an annual social event hosted by Flood Tide Co.
I’ve been friends with the founders of the lifestyle brand for years and it makes going to the event more like a family reunion.
While in Charleston there are a multitude of amazing places to eat, drink and generally enjoy yourself. We made sure to take full advantage.
The first that is referred to in the title came for my friend Marc. He had never fished a flooded spartina grass meadow for tailing redfish, so it was a priority to give him a shot to cross off a bucket list item.
Despite being windier than most would like, we found a couple of kindred souls willing to brave the gale and swell on the Wando River on Friday morning.
We powered through sporty conditions as the wind and tide worked against each other, stacking up chop that at times made me wonder why we had ignored the small craft advisory.
Once we made our way far enough up the river, leeward shorelines welcomed us.
Marc took the bow of my skiff and we started our search.
His wonder and excitement was palpable. It was truly special to see his wonder and amazement as we pushed along over a meadow that had only hours before been high and dry.
We finally spotted a redfish tailing and maneuvered into position for a cast. The ending was less than favorable thanks to a “trout set”.
With a mistake behind us, we found another fish and began what would turn into a 8- 10 minute game of cat and mouse as the fish would appear and disappear in the grass, moving along in search of prey with zero clue as to our presence.
The pace got a bit frenetic as the wayward redfish moved steadily towards us. Casts were going long, wide, short; pretty much everywhere they could without being in the “spa” they needed to be.
In response to my suggestion; “hit it on the head…” Marc’s fly dropped by the fish’s left eye, maybe 3 inches away. The response by the redfish was a definitive surge to inhale the crab.
And, just like that, Marc had his first Lowcountry redfish on the fly.
We had a hard time wiping the smiles off our face the rest of the day.
Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Hermine brought wind and rain to the Space Coast; very few, if any, skiffs were on the water enjoying the mostly pristine beauty of Mosquito Lagoon.
The serenity of the quiet moment was interrupted when a thunderous series of booms shook the house again and again.
I immediately went outside to investigate, knowing it wasn’t thunder from a storm band rain shower approaching.
Moments later, social media began to break the story of an “anomaly ” that had just occurred when SpaceX was testing a rocket motor in preparation for an early morning launch on Saturday.
I went to a nearby dock and immediately saw the smoke plume rising to the south, nearly 17 miles away.
Thanks to safety protocols, no human life was lost, nor were there any injuries. The question that remains is: how much environmental damage might be done by the remnants of rocket fuel that were surely washed into the surrounding marshland when a deluge of water was applied to extinguish the massive fire.
Currently, Space Florida is awaiting an environmental impact study’s completion in an effort to bring just such a launch site to the MINWR, just 5-7 miles south of my home along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon. I hope that a fully transparent and objective study includes the aftermath of this incident in the study. The area being considered is home to many endangered and threatened species and is opposed by US Fish & Wildlife staff that run the Refuge.
Yesterday was a wake-up call. Space flight remains a risky business and with that in mind, I remain opposed to the Commercial Launch Facility that is proposed.
Shiloh Commercial Spaceport
In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center, near Daytona. The site – known as “Shiloh,” which is largely unpopulated at this time, would be developed into a dedicated commercial spaceport. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana communicated his support to the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2013 for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study of the site. Today, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is working with the State of Florida to complete the Environmental Impact Study, which is anticipated to be complete by late 2015. Following the successful completion of that study, Space Florida will submit a formal application to the FAA for consideration of a Spaceport Operators License at the site.
I support the creation of a new launch facility on the current NASA campus where infrastructure already exists to respond to and manage the next inevitable “anomaly” when it occurs.
Continue to stay engaged on this issue and have your voice heard saying No Shiloh Launch Complex. The MINWR needs to remain pristine and clean.
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.
From stories being recount from a day on the water, to analysis of the latest fad sweeping Instagram, you’ll get a fresh new perspective that hasn’t seen the desk of an industry insider before the publish button is clicked.
I searched for months for the skiff I have now owned for the past 9 years. After missing a couple of similar models, I finally got the jump on everyone and got the first look at my 1998 Hells Bay Whipray – “Mosquito Lagoon” Edition, (the 33rd hull built) when my son was less than a day old. I left the hospital a day later to see it for the first time. I wrote a check that afternoon, knowing I had found my saltwater soulmate.
The near decade we’ve spent together has been epic. She’s taken me on lots of adventures across the Sunshine State.
There is something special about that old skiff. Today, I watched Flip Pallot opine, in the way only he can, the History of Hells Bay Boatworks. It was fantastic.
In addition to hearing his thoughts on the journey that lead to the revolutionary skiffs we love, I’ve talked a lot with Chris Morejohn, the architect behind the design. Having him remember my skiff and sharing details of its history was fulfilling and deepened my bond with it further.
A lot of people say there is no “perfect” skiff. They’ve never been on mine.