I decided to put some footage together of those lucky times when we get to fish with Captain Derek Rust in the Florida Keys. Every time we fish, we always have an awesome time on his boat. We usually look for Bonefish, Permit and Tarpon when the weather allows. Wether we catch fish or not, you can always bet on some crap talking during those countless hours of poling.
Life, it has its ups and downs twists and turns, but never gives us more than we can handle. Lately, things have winding on my end. Between family situations, car troubles and my 12 year old computer finally crashing I’ve been everywhere but where the fish are, not to say I haven’t tried. Sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself out of a rut, and sometimes we get so far out of the rut we forget what it’s like to be in one, and lose appreciation.
Due to my computer being down, I’m writing this from my phone, and unfortunately I cannot add in some photos I took along the journey of these past few weeks but I promise I will make up in due time.
This past winter has truly been epic to say the least, in life, in fishing, in everything. The road was smooth beautiful and a wonderful ride, I was on top of the world. My girlfriend and I worked hard made smart decisions and finally were able to rid the financial burden of my 2013 Triumph motorcycle. We paid it off, and all I wanted to do with my extra payments was buy a trolling motor for my boat, I made excuses how not having one kept me from catching fish, and convinced myself it would make my entire life better. Just when my hands were within reach of that motor, I packed my girl and the kids in the car for a day at the park, I turn my key and it wouldn’t start. Anti lock brake warning and traction control warning lights were on in my dash all at once, and the car had to be put in the shop. A simple starter, and a plug, no biggie, I thought, then I get a call. The part is supposed to be up words of $2k and it’s gonna be a while. Fortunately, blessed by our making good decisions, it is covered under the warranty we purchased with the vehicle, however, I have to now entertain my daily routines with merely a motorcycle until the car gets fixed. The first week was fine, rode around searching banks, tossing flies from the shoreline, I kind of liked the idea of rolling from spot to spot on the cycle. Problem is, i never grew up here, all my infinite knowledge resides on fishing via some type of water craft.
For two solid weeks I banked zero fish, logged miles upon miles on the cycle fished from Pasco to Desoto to Tampa and back, treaded through miles of mud and banks for not a single fish. Watching schools of massive jacks and birds diving about 10′ farther than I can get to, on my casts. All this defeat, had me looking negatively, blaming Tampa bays population problem, pressure, lack of spots. Then, something hit me, it really is tough out there, I took everything I have for granted. I was complaining about not having a big truck, about not having a trolling motor, about not having all the fancier things I desire, almost treated them as needs rather than luxuries.
This be my reminder, now that things are temporarily gone, I must view this as a hard taught lesson of life. We all want things we can’t afford, luxuries to make doing what we love easier, desires and dreams, it’s a healthy push to keep us reaching for self improvement, however don’t get over consumed with what you don’t have, make sure to take a look at what you already do have, and appreciate it.
I got the call today, the car should be done very soon, I can’t wait to use a 90 lb pushpole under my arm as I try yo pole the boat in 10′ of water while casting the mangrove edges and dock lights for snook, or try to use my engine as a rudder in hopes to have some sort of directional control over a drift. I’m perfectly o.k. because I do have a boat to float on, and I do have a car to haul it.
I plan to keep working on my shorebound game as well, in between my getting my car back. I can’t get beat down that bad and just walk away, I have to conquer this challenge, so I’m better prepared for life’s next round.
Having explored a vast area of untouched flats over the last few years there is one area in particular that has always stood out to me. To describe it there is a series of long, hook shaped sandbars linked together and on a small island nearby, overlooking it all, there is this indigenous rock painting. Could this be the earliest recording of a Permit? Who knows, but you can’t deny that it has a fair amount of similarity to the shape of the fish that we chased all over the adjacent flats.
It was a place where the fish were more than happy to eat and even eat on the drop, schools of permit milled on the backs of the stingrays who called the flats home and a place where enormous hammer-head sharks ate these stingrays in moments that you’d describe as sheer pandemonium. It was an area that is as wild as it comes yet the stillness, silence and experiences left behind makes me want to drop everything, hop in the car and drive the 1700km back there.
It been a fair while since we fished this region and in a few weeks I’m heading back. It’s a crazy feeling knowing that almost every free moment of thought that I have I’m thinking casts, flies, weather patterns and permit. Who thought that the fly-fishing experience could be so wholesome?
I’ll let you know how the trip goes but in the meantime here are a few photos from the last session we had there. This fish was spotted with a pod of other fish moving along a small drop-off. In a region where these fish refuse to eat anything, and then refuse to eat a perfect presentation, in a moment of eerie calmness the fish peeled from the school and inhaled the crab as it sank, a few feet from it mates. It’s still as vivid in my mind as the day it happened.
I first met Capt. Derek Rust at the SWC Christmas party this past December. I knew about him through some of the SWC guys and heard nothing but great things about the guy. So meeting and talking to him was pretty exciting, not like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber, but it may have been close. Little did I know my wife already had conversations with Derek in previous weeks about getting a charter with him for my bday/Christmas present. That’s where the real story begins.
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Its not often I get that feeling inside that only someone who is truly happy gets. I’m not proud of this however I will not hide from it either. Something about the current weather and getting back to who and what I really love has done. I find that there are many triggers for this feeling and yet somehow I seem to stray from them more often than not. The passion for things I love since becoming a father has only grown. Awkwardly enough I seem to find myself lost in thought and in these moments where the Grinch’s heart grew ten times its cold measly size, I’m alive. I’m no professional, I’m not a photographer and honestly my grammar and punctuation are as good as the latest pop junk found on your local fm. My name is Christopher James Smith and I was born in the circa of 1986.
I woke up with redfish withdrawals yesterday, so I went out to get my fix. I left at first light to a new kayak launch I found that leads to an area that always holds redfish. I’m always trying to find a better way to get to the fishing spot because it’s a LONG paddle which means more time paddling and less time fishing. It took me forever to pull my kayak through some knee high mud but I finally got in and started the journey. I picked off a runt along the way that I spotted cruising a skinny shoreline.
Bear with me as we dwell into a little bit of my childhood. Growing up in Homestead,I was blessed with many areas to fish and many different ecosystems to explore. As a young child I have vivid memories of the smell of chum and the old two stroke Mercury 150 that was on the back of my family’s 22 foot Robalo. Many days were spent waiting for big snapper to take the bait, and I couldn’t wait to bring my mom fresh snapper (one of her favorites) and have a fish fry. Unfortunately my parents split up when I was four and the boat was lost in the process of divorce. So a whole new form of fishing filled my mind: Bass fishing from land.
January and february in Indiana is cold as a witches titty. The weather is very unpredictable. Some years we get no snow, and some years we get puked on. Lake effect snow and ice has been piling up this year shutting down roads and rivers but also giving me a chance to tie and regroup for the next day when the conditions are right. I look for weather systems that get the fish eager to eat. When we get a good south blow of warm air the creeks melt just enough to get the water moving, and murk it up just enough to unspook the fish. By warm air I mean anything above 20 degrees. We had a great sunday funday a few weeks ago and since then have had a couple warm days to get out and get at some Pheeeeeesh!
This past December 2014, Skinny Water Culture hosted their annual Christmas Party. Tons of people gave donations such as toys, money, and canned goods for those in need of help. There was a raffle held with some great prices, such as fishing charters, fishing gear and even a small boat/paddleboard. Our raffle was a little different, we decided to make a video about “A Day in the Life” with Jason Fernandez and myself. One lucky winner, Mark Vedder, from Tampa Bay area, came out and hung out for 2 days and we recorded the whole thing. We had tons of fun filming this as always, I hope you guys like it, ENJOY!!