Tides   

Catching Fish with Feathers

I was out scouting with finding snook in mind. Not to catch, just to look and see how my friends are doing and perhaps throw a few feathers at some reds. I pushed deep into the backcountry to enjoy one of my special places. I often find huge snook there and enjoy just watching them sometimes. I haven’t been casting to them much this year because of the tough winter we all went through and I haven’t taken a single snook charter because of it. Reds will just have to do.

Fish-on-feathers 002-450This beautiful pair of flies were made by the people at SaltwaterFlies.com and we appreciate the work they do. There are plenty of local fly tiers too, but we have caught fish with this company's inexpensive and well-made feathers.

As I pushed deeper and deeper into the magic zone, I began noticing my big friends moving about as if everything was just fine. The birds were wading and snapping up meals on fins as they moved by. I could see that the snook were very healthy looking and were actively feeding on bait fish. What a great sign. As I slipped into a pocket in the mangroves to set the pin, I noticed a Great White Heron intently looking into the water. He would snip a small fish ever so cautiously, from around what looked like a log in the water. I watched him and saw the log move … a little.

I kept watching what turned out to be quite a show. There was a huge snook close to mangrove roots feeding on a bloom of small minnows and didn’t seem to mind sharing with the Great White. It was quite a sight. It reminded me of a time when my grandson and I were going under a very low footbridge while moving into another system. As we were going thru a narrow mangrove cut and approaching the bridge, I could see a giant snook sitting in a hole right under the footbridge. As we got closer I could see a bloom of minnows swarming around the snook. The giant was motionless except for the finning of her pectoral fins to hold her position. She would slowly slurp in a minnow as the bait swam past her mouth. It was amazing to see and by now we were right next to here as we moved through. I whispered to the boy not to move. He could see what was going on but couldn’t stand it. He reached for a rod and that was all it took to spook her and end the show.

Fish-on-feathers 001-450

I had to get a better look, so I eased the skiff closer, ever so slowly. It was the same scenario and something that I thought I would never see again. I watched as the two shared their meal and wished that this had been one of the times that I brought a camera. I only bring one when I am doing wildlife photo hunts and this was not the purpose of this journey. A cheap camera won’t do for this kind of photography and I have fears of knocking one of my good ones overboard in the excitement of fishing. I watched as the two enjoyed their dinner and then they moved on. It was so beautiful that I just had to watch. The strange dance between fish and feathers, taking turns and working together, all set to the music of the backcountry wildlife. The show was so rewarding and satisfying. It completed me, at least for awhile.

Read an excellent article on what flies to use for saltwater by Captain Pat Damico.

Captain Pat Horrigan



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