Natural Ability

by Dan Carns

Every now and then a fisherman comes across my path that just stuns me with their natural ability! This particular fellow called our shop to schedule a trip just to get a feel for Matlacha, as he is was born and raised here in SWFL, but had not fished this particular area of the Matlacha aquatic preserve. Since I had called him the night before to go over the details I was aware that he preferred lures over bait, but mentioned that I would bring shrimp. Sometimes shrimp can be the difference between a successful trip and a flop!

We meet before day break and launched as the sky began to lighten and I was astounded by the accuracy of this young man’s casting, while we paddled and fished a row of docks on our way out. We hit the first Island just off the launch and instantly hooked and lost a nice snook on a plastic jerk shad, but then managed to hook and land two small snook, at which point my client stated its time to move! Anyone who fishes with me knows that I’m a hunter when it comes to fishing; I’ll give any particular spot just enough time and just enough casts with various gear and then move on, but I’m always hesitant to move from feeding fish to find fish, but he insisted so off we go. The next hour and a half were a move and fish introduction to the area as we fished point breaks, oyster beds and trout flats. Fishing was kind of slow and my guy insisted that I fish with him, so as he’s throwing artificial lures and I’m tossing live bait to try to make a point. We finally land in a spot that I’m sure is going to produce a redfish or a decent snook and I make him throw a popping cork and shrimp, but after three tries he insists on going back to a Mirrodine swimbait. Oh yeah, he tags a beautiful snook on an artificial that we boat, photograph, release. On we march, introducing him to all my favorite spots. He’s throwing artificials, I’m throwing bait and finally we trolled through a trout flat that’s on fire with feeding trout and we anchor up for the next hour. Mind you, I’ve still not caught a single fish on shrimp and so I’m soaking bait in the middle of this frenzy. After he boats a dozen fish and I offered shrimp three different ways to no avail, I surrender the bait tactic. He and I hook, boat and release 40 trout on artificial lures and talk about tides, water quality and the future of fishing. As we paddle back, we’re trolling plastic jerk shads from Gulp Baits and hook our biggest trout pretty close to the launch. Humbled by the confidence and skill my client possesses, I compliment him and wish him luck, although I don’t believe for a moment he needs luck!

It’s A Wild World-Get Out There, Fishman Dan