Florida fishing guide Blake Matherly had confidence in Rick Schreiber and I after seeing us fish through yesterday. We didn’t show an ounce of disappointment despite the fish-hindering weather. When you plan a trip way in advance weather can screw you. You can cry about it or change your frame of mind and have fun with what you have. Blake learned we like to have fun.
It’s a good thing Rick and I have the deal-with-it attitude because todays conditions started worse than yesterday. Not only did we have wind but we had overcast conditions. This however didn’t stop Blake from packing his push pole and he took us to his favorite redfish flat. After a half hour boat ride we arrived just as a few rays of sun popped to help us see and warm up the water.
The flat was sheltered and wind was light. The tide was coming in and Blake expected a rush of redfish. We saw a few swirls and a couple distant tails. By the time we poled to the area for a cast the fish were gone. No doubt the water temperature on the flat was colder than normal and the red drum weren’t feeding like we hoped for.
I manned the bow first for at least an hour. I made one cast to a fish slightly out of range and hoped he’d find my fly but no such luck. Eventually I made Rick take over hoping for better results but he too was unlucky. My 7-weight Winston with its shiny blue Abel didn’t get the chance to put the brakes on a redfish.
George had lunch plans for us so we headed there promptly at noon. It turned out that lunch was at a very special place, The Useppa Island Club. The club opened during the 19th century and its where tarpon fishing in Florida all began. Many famous people fished here back in the day including Herbert Hoover, the Rockefellers and Zane Grey. The historical fishing island is a tough place to get into even for a lunch but thanks to George and Blake we had some pull.
While we ate the rain started. This put our group into eating and drinking mode. The fishing was so tough no one felt like rushing out there again too soon. I took the time to walk around the club and enjoy the old photos and tarpon mounts. The pictures are amazing but boy did they kill a ton of tarpon back in the day!
Eventually it was time to go. The rain lightened to a drizzle so we were able to walk around the island. Numerous other sports take place on Useppa Island other than fishing. There was a most amazing croquet field and an outdoor chess board where the individual pieces were the size of a child.
When we boarded Blake’s skiff it was a downpour and the wind was gusting to dangerous levels. We made a beeline for Tarpon Lodge and sacrificed our afternoon session for safety reasons. Once again the weather didn’t stop Rick and I. We lit huge cigars and cast off the docks till we couldn’t take it anymore. The fishing really is tough. We didn’t touch a single fish and each took a blank for the day.
Tomorrow is not a fishing day. Its leisurely Sunday and we’ll sleep in then go to a late brunch at what I understand is another very cool restaurant near Pine Island Florida. Then we hit a billiards hall for the afternoon, toss a few dice and watch the Super bowl over a fine dinner at the Tarpon Lodge. Despite the tough fishing once again the annual trip with George was an incredibly great time.