Here it is the middle of September already. The summer went flying by once again with a steady stream of false albacore, king mackerel, spanish mackerel and a decent amount of dolphin. The action on the reef edge was spectacular with albies, rainbow and blue runners chewing up a storm. June was once again “shark month” with huge bull sharks peeling off our albies at every opportunity. While each daily customer got a big kick out of that, it was getting pretty old for me, especially with each fish eaten went the fly, translating into even more fly tying than what I was already doing. To take my frustration out at this, I would take one of the mangled albies, (most were eaten whole, but a few decapitated carcasses made it back to the boat), and hang it by a rope off the side of the boat. When a bull shark went after it, I would “tease” it up to the side of the boat. Some of these guys were so aggressive, they would latch a hold on the albie and refuse to let go. I could pull their entire head and shoulders up out of the water, jaws snapping, tail throwing water over the entire boat. If I had time, I would grab the gaff that was laying within reach and bring the handle down on the things head with as much force as I could muster. Put a pretty decent bend in the gaff handle and didn’t phase the shark in the least. Fruitless I know, but satisfying nonetheless.The numbers of albies coming over the side really hit a peak from about the middle of June through the end of August. You could go out and just throw a fly around with no chum and easily catch a dozen fish in a couple hours. With two or three anglers onboard and a load of chum, fifty fish days were pretty common. And here it is the middle of September and the albies are still here. That is officially the longest they’ve ever been here with a solid five month season!
Some of the other stuff I’ve been doing has been using fast sink lines for the king mackerel. As with the albies, large schools have been here most of the summer and they also show no signs of leaving. Fairly easy stuff, get the fly deep into the school and just twitch it along. The strike for a king moving twenty mph + when it crashes the fly is truly an impressive strike. And when he feels the hook, the turbo activates and off they go at close to fifty. A very cool thing if you like watching line melt off the reel.
And we had the ultimate in line melting one day in July when a fifty pound plus wahoo hung around the boat for fifteen minutes eating dead pilchards one at a time. I tried every trick I know to get him to eat a fly. He wouldn’t eat one with wire on it. He did clip two flies off with just a mono leader, and then he wouldn’t go near a fly, but he did keep right on eating the dead pilchards. I finally had to resort to feeding him a bait with a hook in it, something I’ve only done about five times in my career, but no one is going to quibble about how to get a fifty pound ‘hoo in the boat, right? I actually had to cut a fly apart to get a hook to put the bait on, not a single bare hook in the boat.
So, he ate the bait, I set the hook and handed the rod off to the first of my three anglers. Well, the wahoo was obviously unsure of what was going on because it did a very lazy one hundred yard run straight out in front of the boat. Now it’s rare, but some of these things don’t ever get warmed up for a real run, so thinking this was the case I started motoring after the fish. Just about then the line goes slack, and I immediately think he’s shaken the hook, but I hit reverse attempting to keep the line tight just in case he is still connected. And out of the corner of my eye I see this flash that looked exactly like a bolt of lightning underwater. I even glanced up at the sky looking for the thunderhead from where a bolt may have been reflected in the water. It actually was wahoo coming back past the boat at a speed I can’t even begin to guess at. They say these things top out at over sixty mph in the water, and I believe this one was traveling every bit of that. It came from a hundred yards in front of the boat and finished its run over three hundred yards in the other direction. And it took about twenty seconds to do it. All three of my clients took turns on the fish trying to get it close, but it was not meant to be, the hook pulling free at the end of thirty minutes.
So, here it is, the middle of September and the fall bait migration is in full swing. Mullet, sardines, menhaden and pilchards all moving south and every conceivable predator blasting away at them. Snook, tarpon, jacks, mackerel, bluefish,ladyfish, sharks….everyone getting in on the last big feed of the summer. The dolphin fishing has picked up considerably in the last week, and even some small blackfin tuna are showing up, which usually heralds skipjack tuna moving through the area. So basically, seeing over fifteen species on any given day right now is pretty typical.
It makes me semi crazy that this time of year has spectacular fishing, but business is pretty quiet. All this fishing to be done and I’m out by myself doing it. Everyone is probably getting kids back in school and getting ready for the upcoming holidays. I’ll try to keep the reports and stories coming for those of you forced to live vicariously…but I can’t promise that I don’t  get so distracted by the fishing that you don’t hear from me again till the spinner sharks show up in January..