Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 7 May 2019
I don’t know if this is something limited to South Florida but fly casting for the pure enjoyment of simply casting is seldom, if ever, done around here. I can honestly say that I have never seen anyone else field practicing unless I personally knew them or was directly involved. Sure, fly fishing is understood, or at least recognized by many local anglers, but if you go out onto a public athletic field and simply cast you will get all kinds of curious looks and comments.
Of course, there are always the comedians who ask if you are getting any bites, to which I usually reply, “Only one sucker!” My favorite comment came from a friendly young lady who said something like, “ I don’t have any idea what you are doing, but you look like you are really good at it!”
This past weekend was a bit more entertaining than usual. Just beyond my backyard gate is a private park that is well maintained. It is a great place for me to practice and also to give lessons. Over the years I have discretely added markers for distance and adapted the existing trees and flora into targets and specific challenging obstructions.
Something new this weekend was the participation of one of South Florida’s most unpopular exotic invasive species: the green iguana. The population of these large prehistoric looking lizards has exploded over the last decade or so. A strong winter freeze back in 2010 knocked them back pretty well, but in the years since their numbers have rebounded. They are very unfavorably viewed by the gardeners as they are supposedly vegetarian and seem to prefer to dine on the most attractive flowers. Besides that, their habit of burrowing for shelter and to lay their eggs is becoming rather destructive, especially along the miles of canals that famously make Ft. Lauderdale “the Venice of America”.
After this weekend I have my doubts that they are complete vegetarians. In fact, a student and I can attest to the fact that they will eagerly chase and eat a well placed, slow moving chartreuse fluff. Unlike most of the fish I have encountered, an iguana will repeated eat the same “fly” time after time, even after chewing on it thoughtfully and having it yanked out of their mouth repeatedly.
I think maybe a small trout hook around size 14 might work! It likely will not get stuck in the grass. My private, half dozen or so, meter-long moving targets will only get larger with time. I know from other experiences that they should pull pretty good and definitely will run directly toward cover. The downside is they tire quickly and will likely only be good for maybe a 20 meter run. They do not seem to be the least leader shy.
The other entertainment this past weekend was that the lessons coincided with the annual “Air and Sea Show”. Essentially, it is a tourist attracting daylong beach extravaganza that is highlighted by “entertaining” demonstrations of US military air and sea war technology. Most of it takes place out over the ocean where the millions on the beach and in the fringing high-rise condominiums can view the goings-on, but the jets commonly veer over or from land. As my home is only about a mile from the beach, we were commonly directly below the ear-splitting flight path of multiple just-subsonic warplanes in formation.
It is hard not to be impressed by sheer power and speed of say an F-16 fighter jet, although I cannot decide whether the impressions I felt were more of patriotism or of sadness as to their raison d’etat .
But, I am positive that all that money, technology and skill required for their flight cannot compare to the simple beauty of a well-formed loop and unrolling flyline.