I’ve spent most of my fishing days meandering mountain streams and exploring rivers. It seems like I could spend a lifetime exploring new waters. About 5 years ago I made the decision to give up all other hobbies to only chase fish with a fly rod and I continue to find myself shedding obligation, interest and responsibility for that pursuit. Years ago I remember salt water fishing as being foreign to me. I focused primarily on the fresh water species that were closest to me and easily accessible. Some years ago I caught my first snook on a spinning rod fishing Sarasota Bay on a family vacation. I was blown away with the power these fish had. It fought like it was twice its size. I was a bit intimidated by the idea of chasing salt water species on a fly rod honestly. I was completely out of my element. Fast forward to this year and I find myself obsessed. I took a spur of the moment trip to South Florida and found myself in a boat with an acquaintance I met through trout fishing here in North Georgia Mountains, Ren Stanley who now operates Serenity Fly Fishing. With his local knowledge and advice I was casting to my first tarpon. Albeit a small one, it was a trophy in the ways of an accomplishment for me.
Seeing that fish roll and placing my first cast will be a moment I won’t ever forget. I had about 90% doubt that fish would ever strike. But after three short strip of line, my mind was once again blown. Of course my mind wasn’t the only thing blown. Because I also blew the hook set. Relearning everything you’ve taught yourself targeting freshwater species isn’t easily unlearned and replaced. What was most shocking was once again the power these fish have. When I returned home I tried to explain it to my buddy Gene, his best fitting comparison was: It’s like hooking a fly to the back of a mini bike and having someone hammer the throttle.
The only thing more disappointing than losing this fish is the fact I didn’t pursue salt water species sooner. Looking back on all the places I’ve travelled in my lifetime without a rod is now my biggest regret. I aim to fix that.