Sometimes I can't fall asleep. It could be the anticipation of the
next day. That's why I write. I can't help it. Last night was
no exception. I was looking forward to today and a spur of the
moment trip with a friend. Rising at 4 am is tough when you go
to sleep after midnight. Blame it on the full moon. Luckily
I don't howl.
There is so much light with a full moon, you know what I mean, you've
seen it yourself. And you've wondered, as do I, if the fishing
wouldn't be better during this period of light. After the sun
disappears and your eyes adjust, you can see almost as clearly.
Of course you can't see into the water. But if this is an area
you have frequented often, it doesn't matter. What matters is
that the serenity will steal your soul. It will transfix you in
a time warp with no reference points, outside of a shoreline or
grass line. Your perspective on the water changes, on life too.
When I was a boy, I would sit very quietly with my father watching
the moon cast its silver shimmering beams across the dark water.
How magical it seemed. Just like the sun, the moon's rays would
stretch in an ever-increasing angle highlighting every ripple in
the water. It was more spectacular in a boat with the froth from
the wake casting silvery fans off the stern. The darkness just
before dawn is a spiritual time for reflection and contemplation.
Better yet is that moment when the sun first appears. It is still
dark. Off in the distance you see that first red-orange glow, hint
of a new day.
I loaded my gear and our golden retriever, Rob Roy, into the car.
I arrived at Brian's house just after 5 am, right on schedule.
We pushed off from the launch site at 5:30 and headed to one of
our favorite spots in the lagoon. Moonlight guided our way through
the backwater past Eldora House to the Shotgun. The weatherman
said Florida broke another record low for August - 65 degrees.
The weather was perfect, and no mosquitoes.
The three of us cruised along the flats over to the Inter-Coastal
Waterway, and headed south. The channel markers are silhouetted
by the moon's reflection. We passed M15, turning farther down
near M21. Ahead we could make out the lights from a working barge
pulling a paddlewheel boat south on the Indian River. It was dead
quiet. I'm sure at some other time in its life you would hear
the sounds of jazz music, singing, and the tick and clunking noise
from the ball bouncing on the sprockets of the roulette wheel.
She was all lit up. This was odd. I remember a riverboat on
the Mekong River that had lights like this one, a silent ghost
full of anticipation.
We passed along the tug's port beam. The captain was busy cooking
breakfast and gave a half-hearted wave. He must have been on autopilot.
You could just make out the dials on the white stove. Between the
moonlight and the lights from the tug, picking out the channel markers
was easy. We could make out their reflectors at least two markers
ahead. Farther down we made our turn to a place known for schools
Brian is a native of this area and knows these waters better than most.
It was still dark, the sun would not rise for another hour as we
settled down and Brian quietly started poling to the west side of
the flat. We surveyed the flat and waters around us.
"There's a push," as I pointed with my finger.
"Yes, but they are moving away," Brian said.
We could see movement on the water reminiscent of a school of reds;
we held back to see what direction they would take. They turned.
Slowly. We watched. Studied their moves. A couple of doubles moved
ahead of the pack. The school hung back. We figured there were
a hundred redfish.
I readied both rods. I had a 9wt Custom Silstar with 9wt Slime Line
and an 8wt DFR with 8wt Clear Sink Tip. Brian had his Orvis Silver
Label and a Fly Logic. We were using half&halfs and fur shrimp flies.
Until there was more light we blind cast into what appeared to be
pushes about fifty feet away. Pushes are easy to spot on flat water.
As dark as it was, the water was so clear that you could see this
endless sea of grass. As we moved, the boat would glide over this
deep shag carpet.
Brian poled very slowly. Then he stopped. "Good morning. This is Capt.
Brian Clancy . . . ," he spoke into his cell phone giving a live local
radio station fishing report. "It's a beautiful morning in Mosquito
Lagoon," he said to his listeners. Rob Roy, my golden retriever,
watched Brian and listened intently. His ears perked as he watched
Brian's gestures as he talked about this wonderful place. Of course,
he is right. This lagoon and estuary system is a marvelous place.
How lucky could anyone be, to be in that spot at 5:45 am? The world
was all ours.
First hookup went to Brian. A beautiful ladyfish hit a rattle-rigged
Clouser Minnow. You know that feeling when someone gets the first
"fish on." How great a sense of joy and excitement illuminates everyone.
What's even better, the sun is just starting to rise. You can tell.
It gets lighter out, and the sun is just breaking through the horizon.
Now it was my turn. Brian positioned me on a pod of reds. I took a
couple of false casts and double-hauled a nice long one. But I missed.
I retrieved and then recast. I felt the enormous pull and line tighten.
"Fish ON!" I said. Boy, there is nothing like it to get the heart pumping.
Then the line went slack. *@##!@@," I muttered as I retrieved and
pulled thirty feet of line off the water, with a single haul. That's
when I got sloppy and really fouled my line. The school was starting
to move. This is one of those times you don't want to waste trying to
untangle line. I cut the fly off the tippet and retied it on the 9wt.,
then cast again at the school of reds. BINGO!
"Can you hear it?" I asked Brian.
"Yes," he nodded. Life is good. This baby was spooling line like
there was no tomorrow. ZING! Oops, he's coming back. Time to reel
as fast as you can. Then he is off again.
"Take the line, take all you want," I whispered to this magnificent fish.
His big tail came out of the water about sixty feet in front of us.
I could just make him out as the sun was just rising. It was still
dark but we were facing due east. What a spectacular site? This
beautiful fish was making his run and we were enjoying every minute
This red had been on the line a long time. He was getting really
tired and I didn't want to hurt him. When a game fish starts to
get exhausted get him to the boat quickly. Get the photo and release
him by working the water through his gills until he is able to swim
away on his own. We all did high-fives, including Rob Roy who
watched as the redfish swam away.
"Let's head home."
"Sounds good to me," I replied. We had a terrific morning and now we
could get back to our other activities. Off to our right was another
local guide who respectfully stayed back as we landed and released our
redfish. Thank you Dennis. That's me on the left.
So we headed back. It was just 7:15 am. Not bad for a morning on
Practice catch and release and enjoy our great outdoors.
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.