While sitting around the house today, out sick from work, I realized that there was nothing written about last years easter weekend Keys trip…..
With another windy holiday weekend ahead of us, it was decided to try a little further down and look around for tarpon. What was a good run of 6 years at the RV resort has come to an end, for now. This year, we spent the weekend on Sugarloaf Key. We were hoping for sunny days and light winds, but of course the wind cranked. What eneded up happening was us, running from place to place, in and out of the wind, without seeing much more than a couple of baby permit. And we were in very good spots, areas of notoriously excellent fishing. It just wasn’t gonna happen. Our last morning was spent packing up, getting a late breakfast, and dropping the boat in near a place that has become known as ‘Step Down Point’. We have fished this point for 6 years now, refering to it mostly as the ‘north point’ of the island it was on. But on a late afternoon a couple years ago, on a day the wind howled out of the North, a name for the place was born. A really big permit tailed in shallow water just off the point. It was feeding hard as its tail slapped the water as it dug for food in the rocky bottom. This fish gave me time to get the boat close, and Steve got ready up front with a fly rod. When we got into range, Steve turned to Everett who stood by, spinner and crab ready and told him to take the shot. The wind was cranking, but Everett and I told him to take the shot anyway. Steve got the crab pattern in the air and let it fly. As he made the cast, I could feel a gust of wind hit me on the poling platform, and as I watched, the flyline drifted just a bit causing the fly to land on the back of the fish. The permit freaked, and bolted away. But it was a damn good shot. So now, a few years later, we talk about ‘Step Down’ as a place we cant wait to get back to, as we did as a last ditch effort a year ago.
After a couple days of getting our ass kicked in the wind in Sugarloaf, we decided to see if any fish were hanging around the Step Down area. With only 5 or so hours to fish, we started out of the wind where we had good sun. A small group of baby tarpon moved through, as did a school of small bones. Our first great shot of the day came just as Dave stepped off the bow and handed it to Everett. A nice permit pushed out of a white sandy area across a dark bottom patch, and was moving just right. Ev’s cast was a bit excited and a bit off and the permit moved on. I believe that was his first shot at a permit on fly…We moved on without seeing much more, so we moved into the point. Quickly we started seeing permit. After a few shots, I got one where a average sized fish was spot tailing, searching for food. The cast started out as a complete failure, with the line coiling around my rod, and getting stuck under my foot. Somehow I fixed it and got the fly in front of the fish. A few strips later and I was hooked up. But not for long, as ‘the point’ got in the way and had me stepping down and into the water to see if I could free this permit from the mangrove roots it had tangled itself in to. But by the time we got to it, and I got my hands on the line under the mangroves it was already gone. That was my first hooked Permit on fly, and it was awesome. That was really the last shot of the weekend, and the only fish that we hooked. Which makes the anticipation of returning all that much more. Which is a good thing, because thats only 2 weeks away…..