Just think if 10 years ago, while you were getting your gear out of the garage to go fishing, a wild-eyed, frantic, white-haired man driving a DeLorean jumped from the gull-winged vehicle to tell you that the year 2020 was going to be crazy, almost hallucinatory. Then he frantically explains:
First of all, Donald Trump from The Apprentice is now president of the United States, and he almost starts World War III by getting into an online argument with Iran via something called “Twitter.” Australia catches fire and a woman tries to save it by selling pictures of her breasts.
In the sports world, Kobe Bryant dies in a helicopter crash. Half of the world is devastated, but the other half makes up crazy “memes” about it. Tom Brady leaves the Patriots to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of all places … and is joined by the soon-to-be un-retired Rob Gronkowski.
Just as the world starts recovering from the loss of Kobe, some dude in a place called Wuhan eats a bat and starts a global pandemic called coronavirus. It mostly kills old people, people of color and compromised immune systems. Everyone loses their minds. Forty percent of the population thinks it’s the end of the world. Another 40 percent thinks it’s fake news. Ten percent blame the whole thing on cell phone towers and the remaining 10 percent is just laying low in disbelief.
The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the only way to survive is to hoard toilet paper. Grocery stores are ransacked. Charmin Ultra Soft replaces the dollar as the official U.S. currency and becomes the top name given to newborn baby girls.
As the hysteria grows, world governments shut down the entire planet and lock everyone in their houses. The only person who can keep people from completely losing their minds is an imprisoned gun-toting Oklahoma man with two husbands, a meth addiction and 223 pet tigers. And this all happens before spring turns to summer in the year 2020.
I myself would probably have taken a couple of steps away from the crazy guy, told him to get out of my yard and go back to the future. But, here we are, and all of this has taken place (except the virus evidently wasn’t started by someone eating a bat, although bats are really eaten).
How have you all been handling this pandemic event? I’ve been lying low at home doing projects, casting in the yard and going out to fish on select days.
This is a great time to practice your cast. Work on a different skill every day for just 15 or 20 minutes (twice a day is even better, and you have the time). Start with your basic pick-up-and-lay-down cast (35 or 40 feet).
Really pay attention to the loop size, the direction and trajectory of the back cast. Make sure it’s going where it needs to go. Remember the 180-degree rule: The back cast should go directly opposite of where the forward cast is supposed to go. It’s much easier to make a clean, efficient forward cast if you make a good back cast. Yes, even experienced casters (including me) need a trip back to basics once in a while to help clean the rust up from not fishing — and bad habits we fall back into while we are fishing.
Next, make a newly improved back cast and slip a little line to extend it. Then make the forward cast (no hauling) and shoot the line to a target 45 or 50 feet away. After doing that several times, try it using the haul to the same distance and target. (When you practice your casting, always cast to a target to work on accuracy.) Now turn a quick 180 and present your back cast to the target.
Change up the distances when you want to and also change your angles from the target if you have the room in your yard. Also, cast the same drill sidearm and from as many angles as you can. You’ll find that going over your skills in the yard will really translate when you get back on the water.
Redfish are still cruising flats and mangrove edges, and snook are eating flies again. Trout and snook are taking poppers, and the bycatch has been great: Ladies, jacks, bluefish, big sailcats (you may think they’re ugly, but they sure pull hard), and I caught another little permit casting on a grassflat for trout.
More tarpon are getting active too. The tarpon I’m catching (not catching a lot yet) are getting bigger along with a few babies (20 to 40 pounds). I leadered one maybe 90 pounds the other day in the Harbor. Fishing is good if you can get out.
Be careful at the ramps. There are many people trying to escape the house by getting on the water. Don’t stand on the dock while waiting to be picked up — stay back so other people can safely walk by at a distance. As your ride pulls up, get on board and get out as quickly as possible. Just use some common sense and be aware of others around you.
I wish I could ask that hypothetical wild-eyed old man when this was going to be over! Until then …
Capt. Rex Gudgel is a fly fishing guide in the Boca Grande area and an International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified casting instructor. If you’d like to get casting lessons, book a trip or just need more fly fishing info, contact him at 706-254-3504 or visit BocaGrandeSlamFlyFishing.com or CastWithRex.com.