Small craft should exercise caution!

Small Craft Should Exercise Caution.

Never a dull moment when fishing the keys!  All the way down, Charlie McLean and I kept seeing bands of rain showers coming off the ocean but we kept telling ourselves “maybe it’s just raining over the mainland.”  Not true.  Arrived at the Lorelei in Islamorada where our guide for the Redbone Tournament,  Capt. Jeff Johnson, was waiting for us with an older model Grand Slam skiff tied up at the dock. “Come on, Mark, wait till you see what she’ll do in this crap,” said Jeff.  Ever since I purchased the Grand Slam project I have wanted the opportunity to run the boat in real challenging conditions and here was the chance to see what she would do in this kind of slop.  The boat ride was actually dry (except for the rain) and my kidneys weren’t beaten out of me.  So even though the conditions were terrible for fishing they were great for what I needed to see and feel.

Post-ride, I was glad that I had made the decision to make the spray rail integral to the hull and brought it all the way back to the transom.  The rough seas and wind I had just experienced reinforced the “rightness” of the addition.

The boat was whisper-quiet in nasty conditions. It’s a bad sign when most of the anglers in a tournament are staring at the weather channel while watching bands of rain and wind constantly run across the screen.  However, it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of these particular hard-core fly fishermen hence the name of the tournament,  “THE SUPERFLY”.  Well,  from my vantage point and Capt Johnson’s, it was hard sighting and hard presenting but we did get a couple of follows (no connections, though).  The boat was amazingly quiet in the worst of conditions.  Cal Collier, Jr. and his guide, Capt. Steve Thomas, put it all together and won “THE SUPERFLY”.   After experiencing those type of fishing conditions, I can only say,  “hats off to Cal”.  “This is Redbone weather,” Gary Ellis, founder of the well-known tournament, said.  Without having Jim Cantori of the Weather Channel there to confirm it, I believed him and the next day (Saturday) we again started out with rain followed by more rain with a touch of rain.  Our plan was to get the Redfish out-of-the-way, so with that we headed to Flamingo and tried our luck dredging the outflows at Snake Bight…a great idea but the fish didn’t get the memo…what did show up were small and under-sized.  One cool thing, my fishing teammate Charlie McLean was able to  film some white Pelicans feeding…an impressive sight as they used their bills to seine the water for tiny shrimp.  Then we turned the boat back towards Islamorada and headed back.  The dim light of the Lorelei was a welcome sight!

Being rested and relaxed from an early return Saturday, we thought Sunday was going to be the day to kick ass.  Not!   And again we got ours kicked instead. Hooked one bone but got broken off and the rest is history.  The winners were Jim Bokor, Jr. and Randy Frick.  All in all, it was great fun seeing old friends and making new ones.  Can’t help but be excited that the Grand Slam we’re getting ready  to launch down there will pick up where the old one left off. The improved Grand Slam is on the way!

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