A Few Lessons Learned

Bjorn feeding tarpon at Robbie's.
Good sunglasses with the right lens colour make a huge difference for spotting fish, something I usually suck at. I've had good glasses before - Maui's and Smith's and Kaenon's. I recently got a pair of Maui Jims with the HT (High Transmission) lens, and I spotted more fish than I ever have before, anywhere.
Invest in quick dry underwear. It's fantastic to have all the lightweight, quick dry pants and shirts you can imagine, but wet underwear stay wet. For a long time.
Spend as much time on your feet as you can before you go. Otherwise, after two days standing on the bow of a flats boat trying to keep your balance your feet and ankles will hurt and swell up like they've been smashed with a sledgehammer.
Short shots at fish are almost harder than long shots. Okay, not almost, they are harder.
Apparently I say "out" and "about" funny. Never knew that.
Driving with Bjorn is likely to result in some... we'll call them "slight detours".
One of the greatest things you will ever experience is hand feeding the tarpon at a place called Robbie's in Islamorada. If you ever want to feel like a little kid again, you need to go and experience this.
Fishing for Oceanside tarpon will RUIN you. You will get home and not be able to think of anything else, except the fish you saw and had shots at and had follow your fly, and getting back there to do it again.
More to come...


The Beach Boys Had It Right

After fishing drinks and stories as the sun sets on Islamorada.

When I was a kid there was one summer when my sister and I, along with the two girls who lived beside us, were obsessed with the soundtrack to the movie Cocktail. In particular, the song Kokomo by the Beach Boys. We knew all the lyrics and would sing them over and over, day after day. I just got home from a trip to Florida, and the first day after Key Largo was mentioned that song popped into my head and would not leave, that one section of chorus a little mantra playing in the back of my mind. That summer we spent singing those words resonates with me as I always envisioned these fantastical places of blue water, white sand and hot sun, where life was pure happiness at all times. I never really imagined that these places where real and that I would ever have the opportunity to visit them. The idea of traveling to paradise always makes me feel like a little girl, and that childhood fantasy of sunbathing on a tropical island with a cute guy by my side has been slightly altered to fishing flats and aquamarine coloured waters in the hot sun, and ending the days having cold drinks with good friends.
We never actually spent time in Key Largo on this trip, but we did drive through it on the way to and from Islamorada. Paradise? Yes. While the hot sun part of the dream was a little hit and miss, the fishing and cold drinks with friends part came true. Now that I'm home it still feels like a dream, albeit one I was able to take pictures of and that was shared with other people.
There is never enough time on trips like these. I almost get resentful of the time I spend sleeping, as short as those few hours are. I come home and I obsess over the shots I missed, the casts I messed up, the times I did everything right and didn't get a look, the follows that never became eats, the eats that never materialized into hooked fish, and those fish I did get to hand, so strong and beautiful. I lament over the weather and wonder if I fished hard enough. I try to remember the masses of information that were offered to me and hope I can remember it all. I close my eyes and see tarpon swimming at me. I take a deep breath and imagine I'm smelling salty air and tropical flowers. I miss the people I fished, shared laughs and great conversations with, in this case Matt and Bjorn, Davin and Eric. I desperately wish that a year wasn't 12 months long so that our next trip could be starting tomorrow.
There are so many stories to tell from this trip, so many experiences to share, and so many people to thank. Kokomo was about a fictional place off the Florida Keys, but for me now, Kokomo is a state of mind enriched by memories that I hope to have the opportunity to make more of.