The Rats Nest

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Islamorada Vacation

When Meg first informed me that her work team won a trip to the Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada Florida, I kinda chuckled; ya sure Meg nice early April fools joke. After some convincing that this wasn't a joke the reality settled in and excitement ensued.

Either of us had never been to the Florida Keys before, and I had vividly remembered seeing a fly fishing show with Flip Pallot a few years back where he had done a promo on the lodge we were fortunate enough to be staying at, and the angling opportunities.  To say I was a little star struck at where we were headed. Although many of my fishing friends had given me loads of input on who to fish with and where to go, which was much appreciated, time out on the water was going to be secondary to the jam packed agenda we had on our plate.

A 3:30 AM alarm after maybe 2 hours of sleep  Thursday morning came all too soon, and before we could fully awake it seemed we had landed in Miami and were on our way south to the lodge. We rolled into the lodge around 10:30 AM and we kicked it off right with a healthy round of tropical drinks.
The View From Our Bungalow

The weekend as a whole was a blur, team events, planned dining, mixed with some rest and relaxation, oh and a trip to a local marine park called Theater Of The Sea to swim with Dolphins, a first for both Meg and I. Aside from that awesome experience, we managed to see all kinds of other cool stuff; sea lion show, various birds and fish including all sorts of sea turtles and other neat marine life. Heck, I even learned that the park is the second oldest in the world. Enough of the small talk here are a few pictures.


Sunday arrived and most of Meg's company was heading home, not us however as we still had till Monday afternoon, and today was a chance to get out on a flat with Shafter Johnston of Blue Moon Expeditions in his backyard in hopes of chasing some Tarpon or anything else for that matter. 

Shafter spends a great deal of his season on the "Mother Ship", a large houseboat that he has docked deep in the Everglades.  I got lucky when I spoke with him over the winter as he said he would be around his home which just so happens to be about a 5 minute drive from the lodge, and readily invited me and Meg to spend a few hours on the water that is literally in his back yard. 

Just to set the stage, I am a realist, I fish in the salt very little and I understand that the time of day and everything else in the world was working against me that day, but getting out there and actually experiencing 100 plus pound tarpon in super clear water swimming by was as cool as it gets.  To be honest, I was pretty amazed at how spooky these fish were, far more than any of the Stripers on the flats of the Cape that I have experienced.   I laid out several money casts with plenty of lead and these guys were just not having it, veering away within 5-6 feet of the fly.  I could totally see how people would get frustrated by the game, but I loved every minute of it.  I will absolutely try and get back out there again with Shafter in the future if our paths cross again, hopefully in the Everglades where the stakes and scenarios are much different. 

Rare Glassy Conditions
Due to some ensuing nasty weather pouring in, we came in after a 3 hour stint on some of the coolest water I have ever had the chance to experience.  I will say this, Shafter is a first rate guy, extremely professional, personable and knowledgeable of his local fare.  I would recommend his services to anyone and I hope that I can spend some time with him again as we had a great time out there.   You can check out more at his website http://bluemoonexpeditions.com/.  My wife Meg even had a great time, and I owe her a huge thanks for allowing me to take part in this, shes a great sport.

A Grande Poon In That Shadow
So now I am back to normal and the  vise will again be on fire.  I have a mountain of customer orders to complete, a bunch of shop stuff and an announcement of sorts in the ensuing weeks.  So with further adieu, I'm climbing back into my cave to spin some creativity and fill all those orders for you patient and awesome supporters out there.  
Shafter Pushing Us Around With The Storm On The Horizon


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