Boca Grande, home of tournament Reds, Snook and Tarpon. A controversial battle ground for the snag factor in tournament tarpon fishing, home to millionaires and celebrities, golf carts and banyan trees.
Our guide was tireless for two days, putting us under mangroves, along sand bars and into the open ocean.. I caught a snook on my first cast of the morning, on a brand new Enrico Puglisi white bait fish imitation, and shortly after was casting my first twelve weight at rolling tarpon. It was like casting the push pole, but I got the hang of it. The tarpon never cared. On they rolled…..
We got a good look at some huge manatee, came alongside a 10 foot hammerhead shark, and witnessed the beauty of a colossal eagle ray cruising the shallows. We waded, and cast from the boat. We fished through rain storms and under baking sun. We didn’t catch many fish, but we enjoyed every minute of it.
It was late in the day when I caught the redfish that won my the top spot trophy for the fly division. While the fishing had been slow for every boat, ours hauled int he biggest red, and thus stood sunburned and slightly drunk beside the Gulf on a pool deck, surrounded by the revelers at the post tournament cocktail hour that included dinner, an auction, and and incredible sunset. I caught the Red on a small clouser that I retired when I returned home – pinning it to the corner of the frame that houses the award – a hand-drawn cruising red by a local artist. I’m proud of it…..