I guided for the first time this year on Saturday, and I saw more giant trout than I've seen in a very long time. It's been a very warm winter, and it's fairly easy to find a day here and there where the winds are low and the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s on the water.
My niece's husband, Art Perez, and his buddy Kevin enjoyed one of those incomparable winter days characterized by full sun, low wind and temps in the upper 70s. But before all of that happened, we left the dock in fairly thick fog, and took turns with another boat taking the lead as we headed east in the white haze. I'm used to this stuff, but I've been lost a few times ("a mite bewildered," as Davy Crockett once said about getting lost for three days on one occasion) when I've lost sight of land. I was sure that this would not happen again, but just as soon as I let myself lose the sight of land, I got turned around, and ended up heading north in the fog instead. Fortunately, Kevin, who is ex-military, didn't lose his bearings, and was able to convince me of my error--not an easy task, just ask Julie.
So we turned around and headed south, without getting lost again. Indeed, I felt pretty sure of myself as we headed into south Rattlesnake, and lost sight of land again. I decided to drift a while, and let the sun burn off the fog before heading even further south to Cullens Bay. A noise came out of the fog, and a heavy boat swept past us into west Rattlesnake, which is critically shallow during the low summer and winter tides. I said, "I hope that guy knows what he's doing," knowing full well that he was heading for a tough lesson. We listened to his motor for a while, wondering if he'd found his way out of the back lagoon through one of three exits.
A while later, I headed into the back lagoon, dead reckoning through the fog for one of the "triple guts" that would us take out of the shallow lagoon toward our destination of South Cullens. Luckily, my aim was perfect this time, and the pass between the line of mangroves suddenly appeared in the fog just where I'd hoped to find it. Turning into it, I noticed a boat off to the left that was completely beached--and about four feet from the water. It was the same boat we'd seen earlier! The boat had apparently plowed onto the shoreline, over the mangroves, and finally onto soft mud two feet above the water level. The boat was about 2000 pounds, and the four duck hunters who had managed to orchestrate this nightmare were hunting ducks, since there was nothing else to do. They had not been able to move it at all.
They were a long way from deeper water, and they probably would have been there the rest of the day, if not also the night. Fortunately, seven men proved to be the tipping point for breaking the suction between the boat and the muddy shoreline. We finally managed to slide the bow around. We then heaved it up onto the mangroves, and over them into the water. I've never seen such a grateful captain, who was probably looking at least $1000 to get an airboat to pull him to safety. I have one friend who paid over $3000 to get his boat back from his "rescuer."
We went on to have a great day on the water, finishing up on the sand up north of the Saucer where we found reds and big trout cruising in the crystal clear water. We caught a couple of nice reds, but I took no photos.
I have finally edited a video that I shot back in the fall, with three of my favorite flyfishing friends, Dennis, Ted, and Rusty. I hope you enjoy it!