Take another look at Bob Jenkins' photos with the two jacks from May 6. We had a terrific trip that day...two jacks and multiple redfish later in the day. As you might remember it was Jenkins who got the Grand Slam just two weeks before.

Bob was riding high with enthusiasm and confidence as he prepared for our last trip of his vacation the following morning on May 7, but things began to unravel when he dropped the six pack of Dogfish Head IPA on his tile kitchen floor as he was headed to the car. He salvaged a couple bottles, but it took him 20 minutes to clean up the mess.

He was a half hour late and somewhat frazzled when he showed up for the trip. The morning's events seemed to affect his casting, and he had trouble all morning getting the fly to the fish. We were surrounded by redfish for hours and never got one to take the fly. It was the kind of frustration known to all fly casters. You know you can do it, but why can't you do it! The harder you try the worse it gets. We finally decided to declare victory and least we hadn't broken a rod or fallen out of the boat.

The plan was to have lunch and reboot for the afternoon. I poled us away from the redfish and out into deeper water on a sandbar, dropped the anchor, and got out our lunch. The one thing I didn't do was get out the Line Tamer and load the 10wt and big popper in case some jacks showed up. It never even crossed my mind even though it's SOP this time of year. We had had only a couple bites when the school of 200 big jack crevalle charged the boat! We made so much noise leaping to our feet that the school spooked, turned in the opposite direction, and sped away. Bob stowed lunch and prepared the big tackle as I poled to deeper water, cranked up the motor, and took off after them.

It didn't take long to locate the jacks, and we circled around the school, killed the motor, and Jenkins stripped out line as he got up on the bow. The fish were coming at us fast and Bob launched the cast in their direction, but the morning curse continued as the fly and fly line landed in the middle of the hard-charging school. The fish spooked once again. This time we ran a tenth of a mile ahead of the jacks to give them time to settle down. Once again I killed the motor, took my position on the poling platform, and we waited. Sure enough the fish had slowed down, and we saw them ambling in our direction riding high and happy in the water column. I poled us into range, and this time Jenkins put the fly in front of the school and immediately hooked a big fish... a really big fish. Of course Bob's a pro, and he was armed with a very stout Hardy 10wt rod and reel combo, 300 yards of backing, a straight shot of 50# fluoro leader, and the big popper complete with a barb. The odds appeared to be in our favor, but did I mention that this was a very big jack?

He had fly line on the reel after 20 minutes, but the fish kept circling us. We had the anchor in the boat, the motor trimmed up, and I was diligent to slide the push pole out of the way with each revolution around the boat. Twice I had the leader in my hands, but the fish bolted away. After about 30 revolutions the fish surged, and the reel fell off of the rod! I grabbed it and frantically tried to reconnect it as the handle spun and the drag screamed. Two seconds and the line broke.... Actually the fly line broke at the leader connection. Bob was crestfallen, but after a few minutes we had a good laugh and popped the tops on the two remaining Dogfish Heads and toasted to "Payback". This sport can be downright humbling...

Itís always a great day on the water with Gulf Breeze Guide Service!

Gulf Breeze Guide Service
P.O. Box 251
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32562-0251 (USA)
Tel: 850.934.3292 or 850.261.9035 (cell)

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