Just returned from a three-day trip to Flamingo with none other than Flip Pallot. What a wonderful time. Met up with Flip here in central Florida and we drove south to Florida City the “back way” – down through the heart of the state.
Stopped for lunch along famed Lake Okeechobee, where Flip used to guide for bass and ducks during the Everglades’ offseason many years ago. The area was close to a place called Buckhead Ridge, site of one of my first outdoors experiences in Florida 20 years ago with my brothers and dad and an old buddy of his named Sonny. It brought back some fond memories of that chilly December morning.
Back on the road, Flip and I called Lefty and chatted with him a while. Lefty was his usual self, full of life, and I couldn’t help but think that these two guys (like so many others in the fly industry) are like favorite uncles, always wise and full of good advice.
Our first day on the water, we ran northwest from Flamingo and caught snook along the beaches bordering the Gulf. They’d hang close to shore, congregating around underwater structure such as downed trees. At times, the tapered, streamlined shapes of the snook were plainly visible over the light-sand bottom and made for great sport. On our second day, we ventured deep into the heart of the backcountry and found some baby tarpon that were more than eager to pounce on small flies thrown on 7-weights.
If you’ve never fished country like that in the Everglades, you must try it. It’s a casting game that rewards accuracy and creativity. Placing a fly deep into the nooks and crannies of twisting mangroves is so much fun – and it really hones your skills. Use a weedguard. They’re not only necessary, but they’ll give you added confidence to drop the bug precisely where it needs to be.
Without a doubt, the most embarrassing moment of the trip was when I poled Flip smack dab into a bunch of mangroves as we approached some rolling babies. It was terrible – I wanted to shrivel up and die! I told an old-time fishing pal Juan Carvajal about this mishap and he howled with laughter – “You did WHAT!?!?” Some friend.
But I was very pleased with the way I fished, and was doubly happy, as I met a young guide in the area named Rich Smith who helped us with some spots. Rich seems to be one of the rising stars in the south Florida scene, and I look forward to hitting the water with him again.
Flip and I left Flamingo at 3 a.m. and enjoyed the dawn breaking over foggy pastures. We saw a “roadside grand slam” – turkey, hogs and deer – and enjoyed coffee and breakfast at an old Florida cowboy hangout. I can still taste those biscuits and gravy. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Good fishing to you this July,