I finally got the chance one evening to get out and throw the fly for myself. I was working down a mangrove bank between to feeder creeks catching little snook on a popper. Just enjoying the buggy whip again. The tide was pushing against a branch that jutted a few feet out from the others and behind it was a nice calm eddy, a perfect ambush point for any self respecting fish. I landed the popper on the outside of the eddy and stripped back, nothing. I tried one more time and this time I put the fly up on shore and stripped it off to cover the whole area. Two long strips and a V of water came charging out of nowhere from behind the fly. A loud “POP!” and a tail splash meant the signature take of a large snook. It ran down the bank as I cleared line to the reel and kept going. It circled back around and charged at the Hewes as I reeled as fast as I could to keep up with this behemoth. It went under and around the boat jumping 3 times with countless head shakes trying to break free from its captor. Just as I was losing faith that the tippet would outlast the snooks will it gave a head shake right next to the boat and we managed to get a boga to its lower lip. She measured at 33 1/2 inches and weighed just over 12 pounds. My largest snook on fly to date.

Not thinking I could top that, and after I composed myself and stopped shaking…..I switched to throwing big plugs in the creeks for tarpon. Just after I started I felt a WHUMP and could not reel anymore, I was snagged, awesome. There goes a $9 Bomber lure on a log. But wait a second, that log was pulling drag, and the Hewes was not moving. I held on as drag kept steadily being taken until I was convinced it was a fish, but it was not jumping, what the heck? I trolled after it gaining little precious line. Finally it just stopped moving, I trolled right on top of where it was and pulled as hard as I could with no luck. NOW, I was definitely on a log. Wrong again, the line went under the boat, I stuck the rod in the water and just said screw it. I pulled at hard as I could holding the reel so no drag could go out. I was winning, I pulled the line to my side of the boat and gave one last groan as I heaved as hard as I could. I saw the lure before the fish and could not believe my eyes! A grouper? In 4 feet of water! I have caught small ones in the mangroves before but this was no baby, it weighed in at over 45 pounds. A monster in the backcountry, and on artificial! These goliath grouper are protected under state law so we quickly snapped the picture and set it back in the water without handling it. We revived it and watched as it disappeared into the murky Everglades water. This was surely one of my best 2 hours of fishing ever, and why the Everglades must be relearned every single day. That is why I am here, not to conquer, but to learn and be in awe of what Mother Nature can produce.