Lucky Foot Dirty Hats

Speaking to a few local fly-flinging friends the other day the conversation turns to the topic of luck. Time and time again I wonder just how much luck we really have… and just how much of what seems like luck was good simply decision making and skill. Luck doesn’t seem to follow us every time we fish together, but I know how that can be… I usually only catch those coolest of fish when no-one is around to bear witness and there is no camera! And those are some of my favorite moments. Without the camera or witness it seems that the details of the catch are highlighted and stand out more vividly. Like the time a native Northeast Coast striped bass flew out of the back-side of a wave and smashed a white bucktail deceiver out of the air then slipped back into the water in an instant.

tarpon, catch, release, repeat, fly fishing, texas, gulf coast,

Coming into hand for the release

Then there have been some epic tarpon moments too… And just about anytime you get a strike from the Silver King it is monumental. One moment in particular was when it was absolute gang-busters and three of us guys fishing together had lassoed 3 very respectable tarpon with estimated weights of 40-lb, 60-lb and 80 pounds. AT NIGHT. On the rocks. I can assure you we didn’t just stand in one place to fight these fish! There was tons of jumping and running, playing jump rope with our lines dancing with mayhem in out boots.

Sometimes I intentionally fish alone and leave the photo bomber in the truck to add to the mystery of what might come. But most of us have those lucky items which for some strange reason we think it helps us achieve our goals to catch more fish, win the lottery, or get the best parking spot in the lot. This usually comes in the form of some article of clothing or something you can carry in your pocket like a coin or stone. We have all heard stories of lucky socks, lucky hats, and even lucky underwear. But not being much of a superstitious person, I began thinking to myself about whether or not I had any items like this. Hats don’t normally last long, since the sun and salt bleach them white in a matter of days and then they get blown off my head while underway and sink like rocks. I wont comment on my underwear to keep it PG, but I remembered one of my favorite hats that had been hung on my fly tying desk to rest although it was given to me only months prior. While on hiatus, I had failed to clean it since taking possession even though it is a well-fitting ball cap. It was given to me by Travis Smith and Rance Rathie while visiting their bad-ass lodge, Patagonia River Guides in Trevelin Argentina. But before I could even think of wearing it again, it needed to be sprayed with some serious laundry cleaner juice and a splash of fresh tap water. Once thoroughly soaked, I threw it in a trusty old plastic grocery sack. “This hat is going to need to soak for a few days.” I quite thought aloud.

PRG, jack, crevalle, fly fishing, port aransas, texas, coast, guide

Lucky PRG Hat!

So when I returned from South Padre Island I rinsed it off after a good scrubbin’ and set it to dry in the handlebars of Sarah’s beach bike. Then I found this picture from earlier in the year when I was fishing locked drags and straight 50-lb leaders for big jack crevalle on the North Jetty in Port Aransas,

And wouldn’t you know it, there was my lucky PRG hat on my head and severely faded by the scorching Texas sun. The hyper-salty water, bleaching sun, and loads of fish slime had caused it to fade 20 shades lighter in only a few months but it still fit well and seems as though the luck in it is still kicking. I call it mojo, you call it whatever you like, but I am going back to wearing this hat day in and day out again!

So, now that it is past midnight I will leave you with one final picture of a fish with which I have had beef since February. The score isn’t settled yet by far and honestly this beast won as I had to forfeit my win due to a poorly placed hook. While working a nook and cranny near Port Aransas and time ticking fast I saw this big ugly black drum cruising lazily near the water’s surface and I ran to grab my fly rod, knowing it had just the right fly already tied-on to get this guy to eat! I quickly stripped line from the reel of the Hatch 9+ and placed the fly within a foot or two as the beast turned slowly away and began moving left to right. Again, the fly lands close to the fish’s “business” end but I just could not seem to illicit a strike! Then finally the fly landed super close to the fish but still far enough ahead to allow it time enough to sink into the beasts lair, I thought I saw its gill plates flare and BAM! I set the hook.

black drum, fly fishing, port aransas, guide

Huggin the Big Ugly

We came tight but the fish gingerly swam left, then right causally, as if my sharp hook had only slightly irritated it. In short order the giant black drum came right to hand and as I lifted it from the water I discovered that the hook had caught the fish just behind the lips on its right cheek, confirming it to be an unofficial catch. So, I gave the Big Ugly a big ugly hug and back into the water it went where it lazily and seemingly blindly, swam away as if we had never met. “See you again soon my friend, until next time” I said.

There are some dates open in September for sight-casting to redfish on the flats and I expect to see some big bull reds there too as they prepare for their annual fall migration by fattening up on the tail-ends of all the finger mullet that have been taking whatever refuge they can in the bay but also getting ready to head out into the gulf and then South.

Give me a call directly asap to get on the books and make sure to leave a message if I don’t answer! The phone stays on vibrate most of the day to keep from waking the family!

Keeping the hooks sharp,
Captain Ken Jones
Port Aransas, TX
USCG Licensed
Certified Tourism Ambassador
Certified Wildlife Guide