Written by Capt. Kyle Hodson – BFL Fly Fishing Guide
When fly-fishing, I often find myself looking for the right environment. This might mean locating a very specific detail, or finding a variety of puzzle pieces that lean toward bottom structure, bait, current, clouds, shadows, wind direction, water depth, water clarity, water temperature, or even pressure.
One thing’s for certain, and that is when I find the right environment, I can feel it – my intuition tells me “it’s” right. My senses tend to perk, conversations tend to focus on the objective at hand, and my guest’s attentiveness confirms the find. This is many times not spoken, but simply observed. The “it” is the environment, and when things come together, you know it, as Mother Nature invariably shows her cards.
One morning earlier this month, we found ourselves on an outside shoreline. Needless to say, it was a great day of fly-fishing. The moment the push-pole hit the bay floor, my guest was greeted with two torpedos that were pushing towards us. They were at our 12 o’clock about 75 feet out, and tracking directly for our bow with a happy tempo. The time was now, and we had just started the day. As we continued to pole the shoreline with good sun, good water clarity, and schools of bait working frantically, we just knew that the environment was right for something special.
I had heard bait get crushed on an adjacent pond, so with excitement I poled the skiff over there to give my guest a shot. We watched as a massive black drum buried away in the marsh bottom – we just watched until he disappeared. Taking a minute for a sip of cool water, I stepped off of the polling tower as my guest took a seat. We talked for a few moments like kids in a candy store, thankful to be in the game. It was at that moment that I remember looking up and seeing upwards of 30 tails glistening in the sun as they forked the surface about 150 feet away. I told my guest to get ready, as suddenly it was again time to make ready. I vividly remember polling on one knee from the platform as my guest crouched down on the bow of the skiff, mentally bearing down on the target in order to attempt the perfect cast.
This is what we refer to as our “shot” in fly-fishing. This was our “shot” at a nice school of redfish in extremely shallow water, happily working their way along as they seemed to chain and mingle. Following a beautiful 50 foot cast in front and to the left edge of the school, placing the fly in their sphere of presence, it was only two strips later and we were connected again. We landed the fish smiling and re-living the moment. It was like a chapter in a book that was written just for us.
As we released the beautiful redfish, we looked up only to see another torpedo coming in, and coming in hot! As we just watched in amazement, it was a 4 foot Blacktip shark! We both looked at each other and just smiled, as we each knew we couldn’t have made up this story, even if we’d tried!
We had found the right environment, which had absolutely nothing at all to do with the spot. The environment was very much alive as the fishery presented so many signs of life. It has been a lesson in trusting your gut, your senses, and the feelings you have. Sometimes things just click as soon as the push pole hits the bay floor – sometimes it’s another 100 yards down the shoreline. If the signs are there, I’m willing to bet that the fish will be there as well.