As a avid fisherman, I spend countless hours on the water. In addition to the time on the water I spend significant amounts of time at my vise and problem even more time reading and researching. When it pays off, I remember very quickly why I do it.
My trip to the keys started off with a fly casting brush up with Joe Mahler (http://www.markerjockey.com/#!) in Ft. Myers, FL. We did a two hour lesson which actually went about 2.5 hours. It was WELL worth it. Being from MI I hadn't picked up my fly rod since late September early October, so I felt a brush up would be good. On top of the brush up I needed some instruction on shooting line and some more advanced techniques like double hauling. When we started the lesson I was casting about 40 ft with quite a bit of effort and most likely bad technique. When I was done I was easily shooting line 65ft with very little effort. Does this translate directly to on the water experience? Well no..but it certainly helps and gets your muscles and body used to certain movements. If you are in the area and need some lessons whether you are beginner or advanced, give him a call!
The next day we left bright and early for our destination in the Keys. It was about a 2.5 hour journey that wasn't bad at all. When we arrived, I was AMPED! So much water around me, so much fishing to be done. We ended up fishing with a guide out of Key Largo. The weather was sunny but the winds were gusting over 30 mph. We moved often, just to seek some cover and of course find fish. We never really got into the fish. We were lucky enough to find some sea trout and lady fish which were fun to catch for the short time they were around. We took the sea trout over to Hobo's and had them cook it for us for dinner. We got it blackened and a way they call "godfather" style. It was a lemon butter sauce on top of asiago creamed spinach. SO GOOD. That night I was bumming about the fishing but hadn't given up (after all I am a fisherman).
The next day was arguably the best fishing day of my life. All of my hard work and effort finally paid off in a big way. I went out with Capt. Greg Poland (http://gregpoland.com/). Hands down the best guide I have fished with and I have fished with over 15 guides in just the last 3 years or so. I will get into his guide service more later when I do a review post on him. But for the time being, I highly recommend him.
We started the day out 20 or so miles out in the gulf. Threw out the chum bag, drove some circles, and threw anchor. To me, it was the middle of nowhere and judging by the horizon and the fact there weren't any other boats it was the middle of nowhere. After the chum got a chance to infiltrate good I started casting. It wasn't good casting but I was getting it out there lol. The fishing turned on and I was landing fish faster then I ever had by fly. In fact, the action was so good I lost count. Ended up catching a bunch of Spanish Macks, Jack Crevele, some bluefish, a little shark, and some blue runners. It was a BLAST. We kept some fish alive in the live well for the afternoon plan.
Captain Greg Poland and Myself with my very first
saltwater fish by fly. What a rush.
Nice "Mack" that took a Crease Fly I tied up..
I will have more pictures to come from the fly fishing portion of the trip just need the time to upload them, so bear with me.
After the fish tailed off a bit, the Capt suggested we move a bit and try for sharks. I was 100% game for this. Packed up the fly stuff and we moved a bit, to surprisingly shallow water. Put out the chum bag, cut some macks to hang over board, and threw some live fish on some lines. An hour later I watched a Shark ever so cautiously come in and then in fury snatch the live fish I had on. Within seconds the line was flying out of the reel like I couldn't believe. The Capt. slowed me down (since I almost pounced on the rod) and gave me some instructions. 350 yards of line later I picked up the rod and the fight was on. Fought the shark for a bit over an hour with some very exciting times each time I got him near the boat. When I finally landed the shark (by the way we did not bring this beast on the boat) I was WIPED and dumping water over me. I caught the shark but somehow still believe the shark one that battle. Some pics below of the shark. I will be posting more pictures including video soon, so hold on tight!