The wind is blowing a steady 20 mph with gusts easily exceeding that! One moment no tarpon, next moment several shadows quickly move in from the channel to the flats. Seconds to get out the perfect cast! A bit of panicked excitement sets in! This was the moment I have been waiting weeks for! My guide, Captain Court Douthit, with amazing skill and precision, maneuvers his pristine Bonefish 17 Bohemian skiff to put me in the best position to work with the wind. Here come my loving foe and here is my chance! I have about 50-60 feet of line in the basket. I get out two false casts, double haul, and the line shoots out but without the oomph needed in this wind. It was not a great cast, not even a good cast, but maybe just good enough to be seen. The tarpon may have seen my weak attempt but they are much smarter to take a fly swimming towards them and not away from them! Not many baitfish have the “balls” to swim towards the silver king! My favorite fish all gave my fly a sideways look and disappear just as quickly as they appear. Capt. Court gave me a few more excellent opportunities throughout the day ending with similar results.
Capt. Court gives me a bunch of tips/techniques and demonstrates the differences in dealing with these conditions, which I greatly appreciate and keep trying, and trying some more with some success. Capt. Court makes it look easy as most experts do. I realize it just isn’t my day and switch over to spinning gear, despite my goal to catch a monster tarpon on the fly. It will happen, but not today in these conditions. These tips/techniques will take numerous hours to apply properly.
I felt this situation was important to write about, even if I throw a little bit of shade at myself. Despite what social media shows, not every trip results in a trophy fish and many often result in learning opportunities. Don't fall for the hype! Sometimes the learning experiences are far more important. I know I am a decent fly fisherman and don’t pretend to be more than that. As a bell curve demonstrates, most of us are average as our time on the water and practicing is limited compared to the outlier expert fly anglers. No shame in the game! The true experts spend a lot more time fly fishing and have learned many of these tips/techniques much earlier than others. The more experienced fly anglers have put in their 10,000 + hours in ALL conditions. Many of us have done the 10,000 + hours, but for me (and most likely others) only in much better weather conditions. Big mistake! I have never dedicated myself to only fly fishing and have always just changed my tactics based on the conditions.
- It’s windy, fly rod stays home and spinning tackle comes out.
- It’s not windy, bring fly rod for sight fishing, plus spinning for blind casting.
This strategy works great most of the time, until you have a guided trip arranged to only fly fish and the conditions are nasty. The wind will humble you! No doubt about it! I have never been a fly fishing purist, but every fish I have ever caught on spinning gear I wish that same fish was on the fly! I always ponder how much better that fight would have been on the long rod! So what’s next?
- I will continue to learn and this will include a formal lesson. I have been taught since i was young from my late grandfather, my dad, and in the recent past Youtube videos. It may be time for a true professional to step in to help me with these improvements and how to deal with less than ideal conditions. As many of us, especially us men, think we are doing XYZ perfectly, but someone with a fly fishing eye will see the minor mistakes throwing off your casts that may be invisible to most. I will report back with what I have learned.
- I will practice fly fishing in windy conditions going forward so when another windy opportunity comes I will be prepared. Practice. Practice. Practice!
I appreciate everyone for reading this long blog. I hope this blog helps someone in a similar circumstance, as being humbled by the wind isn't exactly fun! But being able to smile about it and learn from it - is part of the takeaway!
Don't let the Wind Humble You! Put in the work now for the pay off later! Don't let your own lack of preparation potentially ruin a fishing trip!
Couple of shout outs:
Shout out to Captain Court Douthit for showing me a great day on the water. I cannot recommend Court enough for his patience, teaching skills, the fun we had, and his ability to put me on fish in the windy conditions. Super fishy guy and has put in the hours! We even saved some tourists from drifting out to sea! All in a days work! Great guy! Go book a trip with Court!
Shout out to Captain Brian Jill for helping point out some fish coming in our direction. Super fishy, stand up guy, and hope to fish together in the future! Thanks for being cool!