Fly Fishing Key West, April 8 & 9

April 9, 2004 By: Marshall Cutchin

Got a bit of a late start yesterday morning fishing with David D. and Scott C. and ran across the Northwest Channel in a nice, light southerly wind and great light. The wind was surprisingly cool, and I could see that the water temperature was still down, but we shut down at the bottom of Lost Key and I began poling north. Almost immediately 1 large school of tarpon started rolling down the flat toward us. David L. got in a decent cast or two, but the fish didn’t eat; they were obviously on their way somewhere.
We ran through the Lakes and across Boca Grande channel, shutting down on the Easy Side of the Marquesas. Though the conditions were great, we saw only one tarpon roll and another small pod of fish on the bottom. I ran inside to look for fish, but it was empty. We then decided to permit fish and I poled some south side flats, but we got only two shots, one at a school of small fish, and then at a small single that we saw only when he was too close.
From there, I ran to the West side and was thinking of not stopping because of the light when Scott C. and I both saw some laid up tarpon as we were running. I shut and poled back to the fish, which were laid up on a long bar. We had a few shots before David hooked up and had a nice fish on until his shock tippet wore through. We ran from there to the northeast corner but found no fish and headed back across the channel. We ran east to Jewfish Basin and played with several small strings of tarpon but got no eats.
Today, we started early and ran back east to the Pickle Barrel, where David D. quickly launched a 120-lb. fish that was rolling in a small channel. He popped that fish off, but shortly thereafter he made a great cast to a laid-up fish that made several nice jumps before drifting back into a deep cut, where he fought pretty determinedly for about 30 minutes. David finally got him up to the boat — a fish of about 100 lbs. — and Scott C. cast a bit before we headed east to Asphyxiation. We saw only one fish roll there — probably a resident fish — and ran out to Nowhere, where we also saw one fish roll but where the water was really too dirty to fish.
We ran back west then again to catch a permit tide at the Toilet Bowl. David had 4 or 5 pretty good shots in a row. One fish tailed on the fly but didn’t connect. We then ran to Stop Sign, but saw nothing, and then to Renee, where David poled me to a couple of pretty good permit shots. Between the spookiness of the fish and one flubbed cast, I never got the fly close enough to get even a tire kick.
We ended the day back at Lost Key, where there were lots of tarpon rolling in the channels, and a fair number of fish circulating onto the flat. Unfortunately, by the time the fish started to eat we had lost our light. David did have one fish try to eat his fly but miss.