We’ve been blessed with yet another cold front. Gulf temperatures dropped, in some places, up to fifteen degrees. The wind is howling from the northeast, average speed 15 to 20, all the bays covered with white caps and froth. Perfect. No-one in their right mind would go hunting sleepers with fly rods in weather like this.
Dr. Peter Millett made a long cast to a rolling fish in the twilight of the dawn, drew an instant strike and ran a giant through a series of breathtaking leaps ending in a spectacular jump that each of us thought would end with the fish flying into the boat. The hook pulled out.
Whenever I threw the coins for the I Ching, in the old days, I always got the hexagram: ‘Perseverance Furthers.’ There are only a few, microscopic places that you can even do this in this kind of weather, never mind that all the tarpon are gone anyway and nobody is fishing for them. We poked into all the secret spots for this wind direction, we poled relentlessly into the smallest corners of the shallowest tarpon bays in the most sheltered areas of the Islands. The Choke Hole for example.
Jeff Wyman had the foredeck when we were in there, he had just cast to a sleeper about sixty pounds and been refused when we saw another. The water was a little murky, we could make out the line of her dorsal fin but not much else, she looked like the other one, about sixty pounds. We had good position, a decent angle, Jeff made a nice cast. She barely moved and took the fly and swam off with it. It didn’t jump. The water was too shallow, 2.5 feet, mud bottom, she angled toward the entrance, picked up a little speed and finally got a little momentum and tried to jump, she could only get her head and pectoral fins out of the water. …Later discussions, after we lost it, included such figures as 150 pounds, 180 pounds and even 200. Peter said, “By the time we reach the dock, it will be 220!” I said, “We haven’t even reached the idle zone and it’s already 200!” Jeff Wyman, Giant on fly, (a sleeper,) Everglades Style!