A couple of weeks ago, I decided to check out a new fishing spot down here in the lower Keys. I had heard great things about this flat from a good buddy of mine and figured what the hell, why not give it a shot. I had been tying Bonefish flies for the past few nights and was hoping to lace into a couple slabs, so, I loaded up the truck with way too much crap and rolled out. I arrived at the flat after a short drive from Marathon. I strung up the 9 wt with a small Merkin rip-off of mine in hopes to maybe run into a Bone or a Permit and wanted to have a fly that might tempt either one if an opportunity should arise. I got to the water and noticed that a big plus tide had pulled all of the seaweed off of the beach and neatly placed it everywhere! The flat was littered with it,and this was going to make it very hard to sight fish. So instead of wading in the water, I decided to pull out an Eastern Sierra lake sight fishing we would use in the high alpine lakes in the Tahoe area. Basically, we would post up on top of the biggest rocks around and hurry up and wait for some fish to come by. This is nothing new or revolutionary, but it is an extremely helpful way to spot fish when fishing from shore. It can be extremely rewarding at times, and also can be the exact opposite at others. Only time will decide which way the balance beam shall tip on each outing.
I walked down the beach for a bit and got to a spot where the Seaweed was at its least, I hopped up on the rocks and started scanning the water or any sign of movement. I waited and waited and saw nothing. I waited some more and still nothing. I looked to the east and saw a grip of Gulls diving into the water. I ran down the beach hoping to find a school of Tarpon or maybe some big Jacks killing bait on the surface, but, instead I found a bunch of Seagulls playing grab ass with each other. Those dirty bastards! What a waste of time!! I probably missed the mother load of Bonefish cruising the flats while chasing some damn Gulls. Disappointed at the sight of birds crashing the surface with zero fish busting bait in the area, I started to head back towards my less grass filled point on the flat. I stopped just short of where I was on lookout before and posted up for a while on top of the rock wall. I again waited for a while and didn't see any signs of life on the flat. As the day began more and more to look like a bust, I decided to give it one more shot at the first spot I had spent time at. I headed back up the beach and was looking into the water just outside of the weed line. The water had a brown tint near the weeds and was looking kind of funky. I was questioning why I was out there in the present conditions at all. Not only was the water clarity poor due to the weeds, but it was also soiled with loud ass swimmers and sunbathers drinking their faces off and basking in the humidity. I was about to throw the fly rod,in the truck,call it quits and follow suit,but, a big shadow cruising the weed line caught my eye. I could not make out what kind of fish it was, but I could make out a large forked tail of some sort, and if I had to guess I would have said it was a big slobby Bonefish due to the nature of the flat I was on. I positioned myself in front of the fish, made a cast a little too close to it and it scooted off. The fish didn't go too far and resumed cruising the weed line. I ran up the beach and got in front of it again and made another cast. This time I dropped it a little bit further away from the fish. I let the crab imitation sink a bit and stripped it across the shadows face. He turned on it and inhaled my fly! I was expecting a blistering run from what was surely a personal best Florida Keys Bonefish of my career, but instead I got a bunch of gnarly head shakes. This was acting unlike any Bonefish I had ever caught before.... it thrashed some more and then launched out of the water. I was blinded by the brightness of this fish all except for it's lateral line that looked like it was laid down on it's skin by a Black Magic Marker. I had somehow hooked a decent Snook on a Merkin on the beach in the Keys. The fish thrashed a few more times, and then hauled ass and ran me almost into the backing. He finally slowed down and turned and made a run straight back at me on the beach. He was starting to give up and I waded into the weed line to lip the fish. He kicked a few more times and then threw up the white flag. I bent down and grabbed a fist full of Snook lips. I laid the fish down on the Seaweed and admired it's beauty for a few seconds while I fumbled for my camera. I managed to snap off a few overexposed shots before I set her free, and watched the Snook swim back off the end of the flat.
After letting the Snook go, I looked at my fly to see what kind of shape it was in after the battle. It was then that I realized that I was suppose to be fishing for Bones and did not have any bite tippet on my leader. I got very lucky and landed this fish on straight 12 lb tippet somehow. I guess even the sun shines on a dog's ass some days. I was grateful to not have left this fish with my ugly Merkin rip off in it's mouth. So, I re-rigged my leader again and climbed back on top of my rocky perch to stare off into the Atlantic again. I ended up staying there for another hour or so. I ended up seeing 4 Snook total, and two Bonefish that were swimming about 40mph through the flat. I didn't get any good shots at any of these other fish, and after landing one decent Snook I decided to hang it up an call it a day. I had fun exploring new water, had some great excitement and anticipation at the thought of a fish boil by all of the bird activity, and got lucky landing a Snook with no bite tippet......not a bad day at all.