Merrill Memories: Best Time to Fish

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Whenever you can get out.

Another in our “Merrill’s Memories” SeriesEarly, late: Go when you can.

“To go, or not to go? That invariably is the question. It’s almost a
weekly  dilemma confronting all of us who fish. Many an angler
spends hours formulating the exact atmospheric conditions in
preparation for each and every fishing trip. This was never the
case with our dear departed fishing pal Merrill Chandler. The
Canoeman’s motto was always: “You go when you can get out.”

By Merrill ‘Canoeman” Chandler  (1929 – 2002)

The gospel according to the weather gurus was to be a breezy, blustery day. We debated whether it would be worthwhile even trying to spend time on the water. Mother Nature slipped us a little cool weather to make sure that we were paying attention to her. With a passing front and a promise of high pressure, we almost scrubbed our outing.

As often is the case, the prognosticators were a little off base. The predicted north winds were from the northeast and the projected 15 to 20 knots were slightly under.

Mel and I met near the home of our host, Walt Sezeeil. As usual we were about fifteen minutes early but I was sure that Walt would be ready.

Walt’s boat is exactly what I would have if I were into guiding. A 18 foot Shoal Cat. This vessel will take most any type of chop and will glide over the skinniest of waters. It is an extreme fishing platform!

As we loaded our gear a neighbor’s cat, Sebastian, inspected us and asked that we be sure to bring back some fresh fish. This moocher always greets us when we return looking for handouts.

Our heavier jackets certainly felt good as we left the canal and entered the open bay.

Due to the cooler waters we opted for a deeper grass flat where we landed a number of leaping ladyfish and a few small trout.

This was going to be a day of searching so we moved to another prime location. I used to wadefish that place with a great amount of success. In fact, it was an area where I had my first encounter with a shark: I was wading with a stringer of trout attached to my waist. As I prepared to cast I felt a rather strong tug. I knew that the strung trout could not pull that hard so I inspected my catch only to find that half of them were missing. I had only the head half. A shark had devoured the rest. From that point on, I always used a crab trap buoy and fifteen feet of line to attach my catch.

We did find a few quality trout. I caught a nice 22-inch beauty. I marvel at the strength of the larger trout. They do not fight as hard as a red but they do put up a good battle and it does take a little finesse to land this weak mouth critter.

Both Mel and Walt landed some nice fish.

Looking skyward there was a Roseate Spoonbill with the sun showing through the beautiful rose coloration of its wings. It is, sights such as that, that makes each fishing trip special.

The clear sky now indicated that the front had passed and the high pressure should have influenced our fishing, but I guess someone forgot to tell the fish. We caught and released goodly numbers of trout and ladyfish. Mel even fought a stubborn black tip shark into submission.

We headed for a favorite area of the Terra Verde flats to drift with the now waning breeze only to find it devoid of fish. That place will come alive within the next few weeks.

We made one more stop where the channel meets the grass flat and fished the edge. Here we landed a number of keeper size fish. I was on a mission to catch enough to supply fish for a mini fish fry and that last location filled my four fish limit. I am sure that I caught over thirty fish and all of them on but two lures, a ¼ oz. avocado /red glitter DOA Shrimp {# 371} and a pearl / green back / red chin TerrorEyz {# 372}. These are new colors that seem to work great.

When we reached the landing at Walt’s house Sebastian the cat was there, pacing impatiently, waiting for me to clean our catch.

I have always felt that whenever one has the chance to fish, regardless of tide, weather front, or moon phases, that is without doubt the best time to fish.