FISHING THE FLORIDA KEYS
WITH THE SO FLY CREW
THE SO FLY CREW IS A MOTLEY TRIO OF CANADIAN ANGLERS BASED IN TORONTO. THEY FISH (A LOT), THEY TRAVEL, THEY HAVE A KILLER PODCAST, AND THEY EAT FAR LESS POUTINE THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT. THIS BLOG IS WRITTEN BY SO FLY CREW FOUNDERS, MITCH DUESLING AND ALDO PESCATORE-TARDIOLI.
The next couple days were spent going to a boat show and meeting up with various friends who we don’t get to see often, including Dr. Ross Boucek. We were keen to get out on Ross’ skiff to check out the one and only Biscayne Bay, and after some drinks and burgers, we formulated a game plan to do just that. We met Ross at the marina the next morning, and he kindly poled us around all day, finding us pods of bonefish and snook. At one point in the day we found a back bay with some serious snook action. After seeing some LARGE snook blowup on the baitfish, I was able to connect with a smaller fish. Though it wasn’t the biggest snook in the sea, it was my first, and that was super exciting. We caught a rain storm and had to get off the water, but really had a blast exploring this iconic bay.
On Sunday we headed to Everglades National Park to meet up with Benny Blanco. Benny is an incredible guide and angler in Florida who is working tirelessly to raise awareness around the Everglades and the issues this area faces. It’s such a wild place - the biodiversity is remarkable. We met up with Benny at the boat launch and right away knew this day was going to special. He’s such a nice guy — easy-going and super excited to show people his home water. He told us conditions were absolutely perfect to find tarpon, and wow, was he ever right. We went off to our first flat and immediately saw rolling tarpon. 50, 60, 70, even 100 pound fish were swimming all around, occasionally showing a fin above water or rolling out to catch some air. Benny told me to cast out, and then make long slow strips to entice fish. He then told me that the next step is to essentially hold on for dear life and try not to get pulled into the ocean by the fish. I managed to hook a tarpon on one of my first casts and it felt like I was trying to pull a fridge off the ocean bottom. And then POP, my line broke at the fly. Seems like this behemoth wasn’t interested in coming any closer but even just feeling the pull was enough to get me hooked. I managed to hook two more fish, and even had one jump right out of the water on me.
1. DOWNRIVER ROLLTOP BACKPACK
This was a key item for us on this trip (and had been on many other trips). It keeps our dry gear dry. It’s the perfect boat bag while onboard skiffs chasing fish. It’s durable, easy to access, and just works great. We keep some camera gear in the bag, which was perfect for when weather rolled in on Biscayne Bay, or when we got sprayed by waves out on the Everglades, ripping across the ocean on Benny’s wicked Hell’s Bay skiff.
I burn redder than the ripest of tomatoes before developing my sweet Portuguese-heritage base tan. Hot tip: ditch the spray sunscreen and ALWAYS go with lotion. My neck is hurting, and it’s no thanks to the garbage spray sunscreen from CVS. LOTION ALL THE WAY.
3. BANDIT BI-FOLD WALLET
Honestly it might seem like a small thing, but often when traveling the little things make the biggest difference. This wallet is perrrrrrrfect for life on the road. You can leave your main wallet safe at your hotel, and bring only necessary cards with you for the day. It’s small so you can easily toss it in a fanny pack or cross-body bag (like the Chums Rover Cross-Body Bag, which is what I did). LOVE this wallet.
4. RAIN JACKET
Literally any rain jacket you can stuff into your boat bag. It might sound obviousto you to bring a rain jacket, but honestly when I head to tropical destinations it’s not my first thought. I’m so glad I brought a light-weight jacket because cruising on Biscayne Bay in a rain storm, well, you’re gonna get wetttttt. The jacket saved the day. Can't believe I almost didn’t bring it!
5. FORD MUSTANG CONVERTIBLE
How many times can I say it? This car made the trip SO much more epic! If you’re going to a tropical destination for fishing and need to rent a car, look into it. It’s SO FREAKIN’ FUN.
6. BEADED CORD EYEWEAR RETAINER
Love my beaded cord retainers. I prefer a temple-mounted retainer (where it attaches to your glasses in front of your ears) for style and fit, and what’s not to love about beads? These were key on this trip, obviously for being able to take sunglasses off easily or put them on while trying to quickly spot fish, while never having to worry about my shades falling into the water.
GET THE GEAR
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