4th Quarter 2021 Newsletter
It’s said that a man can’t step into the same river twice. It’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. Many times, places are not as we remember. Often the locations don’t change, we do. We get older (hopefully), our attitudes change, and, with a little luck, maybe even wiser. Either way, that was my experience on a recent visit to Key West with my good friend, Robert. My last time in Key West was some 15 years prior with my wife, Lisa, and a group of good friends.
Robert and I were fishing the flats for permit, Jack fish, barracuda and quite frankly anything else swimming the waters foolish enough to hit the line. Although most think of salt fishing as from a 40+ foot boat with down riggers miles offshore in the blue water. We never lose sight of shore while fishing in water often less than 3 feet deep. Mostly sea grass and sand bottom, we sight fish. Employing a professional guide and his boat, we fish off a skiff of 17 to 20 feet with a flat bottom and an outboard engine. Flats boats are clean designs with a casting platform up front, a poling platform in back and as little as possible between the two. Fly line has the unique ability to seek out any protrusion and almost instinctively attach itself. Of course, just at the most opportune time as when a cast needs to be made to a sighted fish or the sighted fish eats the fly. Either way the line wraps around the protrusion limiting the cast or breaking off the fish. Fishing the salt water with a fly is the least effective method of fishing that comes to mind. Its an effort in futility making one question one’s own intelligence.
The boats and the guides, however, are remarkable. The boat’s small design, fully loaded with gear and fishermen, floats in less than a foot of water. In the vast expanse of the ocean, the guide powers the boat to the exact spot, usually with exacting GPS coordinates. The spots are known only to them as years of fishing their home waters has allowed them to amass an array from which to choose. Each spot fishes well only under limited conditions, based on the phases of the moon, the tides, the winds, and likely a sorcerer with whom they consult prior to leaving the dock. However it’s done, they invariably locate the areas with the most fish and best conditions for success. Once on the spot and with the engine off, the guide climbs up to the poling platform as the sport stands on the casting platform. The poling platform is a flat, 2-foot square perch, 6 feet above the water from which the guide moves the boat along with a 20-foot-long pole, similar to that used by a pole vaulter, while he scans the water trying to sight fish. Once the fish is spotted, often a hundred yards or more from the boat, the guide glides the boat to a position close enough for a cast to be made but distant enough not to spook the fish. If all goes well, a cast is made and the fly line is retrieved to mimic the movement of a crab, bait fish or other prey. Assuming the cast is made to the within the fish’s sight cone without the boat or the fly line or the movement of the fisherman spooking the fish, the fish may pursue the fly and with some luck, eat the fly. Once brought to the boat, the fish is released.
Fishing was what brought us to the Keys, and we spent 4 full days on the water. Key West was not as I had remembered. Somehow it seemed tamer, wealthier, and the inhabitants quite a bit older than my last visit. The fishing was tough. Although we managed to find a few fish, the Permit we were after were MIA and overall, the fishing could only be described as slow. But here we were, fishing in the tranquil warm waters of the Keys, in the bright sunshine and 75 degrees. It was mid-December and back in Chicago it was cold, overcast, and grey. There are good problems and bad problems. Although the catching was slow, fishing the Florida Keys in December was most definitely a good problem!
Economic conditions have been in flux. Unemployment is low, wages are up, people are quitting jobs at a record pace, and inflation is high and trending higher. The economic impact of Covid seems to ebb and flow like the tides in the ocean. However, I would characterize the current economic climate overall as a good problem. Yes, the markets are volatile and economic data uncertain, but with corporate earnings up, consumers having money to spend, and interest rates low, current economic conditions are seemingly poised for further expansion.
As always, we thank you for your business and for your continued trust.
Jack P. Cannata