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Bonefishing Key West, A Guides Day Off

Report Date: July 12, 2003

While finishing up my monotonous daily chores (life?s little tasks) of paying bills, running errand and going to the grocery, I found myself lost in a day dream. A dream of wading the flats for tailing Bonefish, or that sickle tailed friend, Mr. Permit. Full of anticipation, and eagerly aware of how perfect these afternoon tides are for Bonefishing. I just could not get there soon enough.

While idling the boat out of the Key West, harbor, I explained to my girl friend
(Tammy) about this euphoric feeling I was having about going fishing this afternoon.
Simply nodding her head and giving a beautiful smile, she said, yes, I know Lenny.
Now fully aware of my passion for this sport, and being witness to what Tarpon season does to a guide, she is sympathetic. Knowing full well that guiding is a way of life, a state of mind, requiring complete dedication. To be good you have to love it.
As I eagerly rushed the importance of being on the flat for the bottom of the falling tide, we skipped the nice homemade sandwiches and the thermos of coffee that would usually accompany us on our afternoon fishing adventures. Being armed with a box of flies a #9 weight fly rod, and a six lb, ultra light-spinning rod, a few dozen shrimp, some gummie worms, beef jerky and a couple diet coke we were off to the Flats.

Somewhere about twenty miles east of Key West, on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, I found my home. No phone, no cars, no grocery stores or email, no fishing magazines or fax machines. The door is always open here, and on this day my home seems just as I had left it, miles of white sand flats, etched with turtle grass and patch bottom reef.

Poling the skiff into the falling tide, toward a white sand bar which is now been exposes for some except for the occasional rogue wave that washes across the top. Once reaching the sand bar I would push the boat a ground where it would safely sit parked in my garage of white sand. Tammy and I left the boat armed with her ?ultra-light?, spinning rod, loaded with a fresh, hooked shrimp and I with my fly rod, with an epoxy Charlie tied on the tippet section, we walked up current. As we waded the flat I noticed a few, bonnet sharks, and a sting ray swimming past. This is a good sign, Tammy pointed out, that there?s is some life around.

The first school we saw swam out across the sand as they left a deeper channel that meander down our direction from a mangrove island. Only two or three fish, however, there would be one in there that would like Tammy shrimp, as she soon found out. As she made a nice 30-foot pitch with her shrimp, the Grey ghost picked it up and was off to the races. With six pound mono we could not put much pressure on the fish, so as they do, this Bonefish made a couple of lighting fast runs. Laughing out loud the both of us as we walked down the flat to land what would be Tammy?s first Bonefish. A typical, Key West Bonefish, I guessed this fish weighed 4 to 5 pounds. Having knowledge and a good inclination that they?re where more fish around I pulled a few frozen shrimp from a large baggie in my pocket and dispersed them in small pieces into the water. Standing and watching the pieces drift in the current across the white sand like a wind swept leaf tumbling across a back yard on a cool fall morning. A 100 yard away, yet higher on the flat I spotted some nervous water. Tammy now happily pleased with her Bonefish has resorted to stalking sand dollars, tough to see yet very hard to spook and don?t eat a shrimp very well. As I work my way toward the now apparent school of Bonefish I strip line from my fly reel and coiled it systematically in my hand. Now in range of the fish I make a quick double haul and fire about twenty-five feet. Two or three fast strips and then I pause. Giving a natural life to this epoxy flie, I strip a few more inches of line then pause. Now cranked up by the motion of the fly in ankle deep water, I?ve got a fish to turn on the fly. One more step and he?s eating the fly. Fish on! Taking me into the backing on the first run, the fish runs higher on the flat with his back out of the water scampering to get free. A few more quick runs and I manage to work the fish into tailing range. Resting the fly rod under my shoulder a grab hold of the leader and pull him to my feet. Only standing in ten inches of gin clear water I believe this is a beautiful thing. A Bonefish with his shimmering silver sides, with a fly in his mouth, splashing water onto my glasses as I kneel down to pick him up to capture back my fly. As I hold this fish up to let Tammy snap a photo, I spot a few more working there way down toward the frozen shrimp smell. Quickly grabbing the camera back from Tammy I rushed her toward the boat to get her rod and a shrimp so she can get another Bonefish. Now feeling rather child like I kneel down to release the fish, I?ve caught. With a few reviving pushes back and forth through the water, helping to oxygenate this fish he easily flicks his tail swims off. Tammy now pursuing another school of fish, manages to hook another with a shrimp. Now well under way in her Bonefishing career, she works in another fish after a few drag-smoking runs. This is an amazing thing, I never believed you could stand in a few feet of water a catch fish like this, Tammy shouted to me as a waded toward her to snap a photo, and release her second Bonefish.

We went on to catch a few more fish that after noon then as the sun lowered toward the horizon and the tide started to roll back in we called it quits. As a guide I have seen a lot of fish and watched a lot of customers catch fish. However, on this day for a brief moment in time my whole life seemed very clear to me. Like my first fish caught as a child or standing atop a 14,000 ft Mountain peak of which I just climbed, I not sure how and I?m not sure why but at moments like this I believe I am the luckiest man alive. So as polled the boat toward deeper water I told Tammy that this place down here in Key West is where the Ocean meets the heavens, and we are stuck in the midst of it. So before I could finish telling her about how much fishing and guiding means to my life, she nodded with great understanding and smiled like she does and said, I know Lenny.

If your looking to get in on some Summer or fall Bonefishing or just need to get back to nature and make some new fishing stories, give me a call and we?ll go fish.

Lets Go Fish!
Capt. Lenny

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