Men Who Fish With Goats

Upon arriving in Miami I was greeted with two pieces of unfortunate information: First, the weather was windy and rainy. Saltwater flats fishing was possible, but very likely it would be miserable and unproductive. Second, Florida had recently experienced a cold snap that resulted in a massive fish kill. My guide, Cordell Baum said he hadn’t even seen a bonefish that season.
The situation reminded me of my last trip to Florida, only worse! Once again it was on to plan B, canal fishing. Cordell was cautiously hopeful. He had spotted some big snook in the canals since the freeze, but he hadn’t seen any trace of many species that were previously abundant.
At our first stop Cordell was overjoyed to see a shoal of peacock bass holding tight to a bridge piling. Those fish wouldn’t bite but as the weather warmed and we fished our way along the canal, we found some that would.
I was able to catch three or four fish in that same spot, during which time I also gained an audience.
A fellow came along, fighting the wind on his bicycle and while I fished, he and Cordell got to talking. It turns out that the guy is a personal friend of one of fly fishing’s biggest names, Lefty Kreh. What a small world.
After a solid day of fishing we were finally chased off by a dramatic thunderstorm. Cordell insisted that the fish I caught were going to make many people happy, especially his clients who were already booked for Spring trips and had been hearing only bad news until then. I hope he’s right, and I hope that Florida’s fish rebound quickly because I still need to catch a Biscayne Bay Bonefish.

Hawaiian Freshwater

Summer has been hectic with travel – from Southeast Asia we traveled back to Hawaii for a short visit, then returned to Tennessee. After only a week, I was off to Oregon to act as best man in my friends wedding. Now that everyone has said “I do,” I am hoping to find some fish. Before I get too far behind on the blog though, I want to share a few of my recent fishes. On my last day in Hawaii, I was fortunate to get a call from my friend and Hawaiian fishing Guru, Kirk. He had been under the weather and we had canned our plan to either go ulua (trevally) fishing or flats fishing for o’io (bonefish) because even in the tropics, wading all day is cold and exhausting. Instead, Kirk suggested that we head to Lake Wilson, Oahu’s biggest fresh water body, for a mellow day of tucanare bass fishing among the eucalyptus trees at Kirk’s secret spot.

Tucanare bass are not actually bass, but the world’s largest species of cichlid, and as I soon learned, they are voracious feeders, strong fighters and aerial acrobats. Kirk had the first fish, caught on live bait. I snapped off a good sized one, but after spooling on some 15lb test I managed to land my first tucanare. The fish wouldn’t stop flopping around, and I dunked my shoe in the lake trying to get my camera out, but I think the self portrait turned out pretty good:

The fishing just kept getting better. We soon switched to a light tackle rod with a small minnow lure, and a flyrod with a weighted baitfish imitation.

At first we tried to be quiet when playing fish so as not to scare off the shoal that seemed to be right in front of us, but as our arms got tired and our fingers became raw from lipping big fish, we began to land and release fish with no regard for stealth. All of the fish that day were good sized tucanare bass except for two. Kirk caught a largemouth and I hooked a red devil, another species of cichlid which can sometimes be enticed to take a fly.

It turned out to be an epic day of fishing – perhaps thirty fish between the two of us.Although I have no idea how many pounds it was, I am certain I set my personal record for most pounds of fish landed in one day.