Wishing is not fishing

Wishing is not fishing

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 23 January 2018

I keep telling myself that I put up with the hassle of living in metropolitan South Florida because I believe the fishing opportunities are excellent, and in fact, they are. The number of species of fish that can be targeted with a flyrod within a 2-hour drive from my house is staggering. And I don’t mean any fish; I am talking about prize species like tarpon, bonefish, and permit, to name just three of notoriety. Until one settles on the few that are worthy of focused concentration, the hardest part for the local fly angler, at first, is deciding which to target at any opportunity.

Over the years I have personally winnowed the smorgasbord down to less than a handful of favorite species and, almost embarrassingly, I have become rather particular about which type of environment I prefer to be in when I chase them.

The urban coast of southeast Florida is built-out, as they say, which means it is a contiguous developed area where little natural land remains and that the majority has been modified by man. Throughout the area there is plenty of water containing fish. Closer to the coast the brackish and saline waters offer some fine fishing for inshore saltwater species, while the more inland freshwater canals not only contain the usual suspects, but also some interesting introduced exotics.


I will only mention in passing that there is also the offshore reefs and Gulfstream, the expansive freshwater marsh of the Everglades, and of course, the Florida Keys.


Born and raised here, I have sampled most if not all, and while the catching can be very good, I personally have lost my appetite for fishing within sight of the urban developed area. A day in a quiet natural environment, whether I catch many fish or not, is much more enjoyable to me than an arm-tiring banner day with a city backdrop. Luckily I have the vast Everglades National Park and associated preserves in which to get lost. Or, at least I have it when it is not closed due to hurricane damage or inane government shut-downs.


But here is the rub. It might be debatable politically, but any avid outdoorsman who has spent more than a decade in South Florida cannot deny that our climate is changing.  I used to explain that the fly anglers down here are not the finest fly casters simply because we never practice. When you can fish almost 365 days a year, why practice when you can fish? That tongue in cheek statement was based on the minute fact that the water never freezes down here. As if frozen water is the only weather event that would keep one from fishing!


The truth is, over the last handful of years, I have spent too much time practicing my casting when I wished I was fishing instead.  I began to wonder if I was becoming as picky about the weather as I was about where I prefer to fish.


After careful consideration I do not believe it is true: I am not a weather wimp, in fact it is quite the opposite. Our summers have been hotter. That is not only my personal opinion but also documented weather data fact. The last few winters were also much warmer than usual, but this one we are in now is contrarily much colder than the historical average. And we are only a bit more than halfway through January.


In just over the last half dozen years we have suffered through fish stock decimating cold snaps, extreme droughts, and over-topping deluges. And just to make it worse for the fly angler, all those extreme events had their associated elevated winds. Although it also affected my fishing I will not call the recent hurricane an abnormal weather event – hurricanes happen.


Is normalcy in the seasonal weather pattern too much to ask for? I am afraid it might be. It sure hasn’t been normal lately.


I guess I really don’t have another point. I sure don’t have an answer.


I’m just bitching. I need to stop wishing and go fishing.


I’ve been practicing my casting so much recently my thumb hurts.