Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

By Nick Curcione

One of our more flamboyant presidents made the now-famous statement about walking softly. I would add the carefully, particularly when you're fishing afoot in unfamiliar terrain. On the second day of what turned out to be one of the miserable trips I ever experienced, I found myself stuck waist deep in muck. I was at Drake's Bay on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. I made the mistake of trusting some folks I didn't know very well and ended up staying at a place that could have passed for the Tico version of the Bates Motel. The only person who knew anything about fishing the area was a young kid who had access to an ancient stiff and outboard. The first day out we had great fishing near Canos Island, but the motor was on its last legs and I didn't want to chance oing out again. A small cove about a mile from where we were staying looked like it could be a productive spot so I set off to do some shore fishing. I was wearing a pair of strap-on thongs and they proved idea for the type of tropical terrain in which I was walking. Everything was fine until I reached the mangroves. As I kid I hated track, especially the high jump, and trying to traverse the giant roots reminded me of those loathsome leg lifts that I never seemed to master. At least I was making some progress at my own pace without the annoyance of a storm trooper coach yelling at you. When I reached a clearing about 25 yards from the shoreline, I thought I had it made. Not so. I walked about ten feet and the ground suddenly gave way. When the pudding-like ooze climbed no further than the elastic waistband on my shorts, I felt a sense of relief. The first thought that came to mind when I hit the soft spot was quicksand and I envisioned myself being swallowed up like some doomed character in a Tarzan movie.

Now my problem was extricating myself. I still had hold of my fly outfit and for a brief moment I considered the possibility of casting the fly to one of the mangrove roots to pull myself out with the fly line. Of course looking back on this, it's easy to see what a dumb idea it was. But in partial defense, I would like to say that even though I wasn't panicked, I was in a very unpleasant set of conditions and I wanted to get the hell out as quickly as possible, so at the time this didn't seem too far fetched. That option quickly faded when I pulled the reel out of the muck. Though far less appetizing, it bore a strange resemblance to the fudge-dipped ice cream balls I used to concoct at my father's soda fountain. The thought made me laugh and a little humor at that point was a good thing. The reel as so caked in mud that I couldn't even see the fly line and there was no way the spool was going to turn so I couldn't pull any line off anyway.


I did not relish the next option, but it was the only way I was going to free myself. I couldn't lift my legs because the thongs were acting like suction cups in the mud. My next move came right out of a Navy Seal training film and now it was my turn to put it into practice. I shut my eyes as tight as I could then bent over and buried my head in the muck. This enabled me to get my hands down to my feet so I could loosen the straps and work my feet out of the thongs. Before plunging my head in I had the sense to study the path to the shoreline because I did not want to open my eyes before I could wash myself off in the water. I remember thinking this was like fraternity hell night and as I had done way back then, I tried to blunt my sensibilities to the misery at hand and just focus on the immediate goal of plunging ahead. It probably took less than a minute, but as you know, time has a way of dragging when you're place or situation you wish to leave behind as quickly as possible. With my feet free of the thongs I was able to make forward progress and gradually I found firm footing. Finally, I was able to stand up on solid ground and it was almost like being on land after weeks at sea. But the sensation that stands out most vividly in my mind was getting into the water. It's interesting how radical contrasts in our experiences have a way of significantly implanting our memory bank and I will never forget the magnitude of relief I felt when I first waded into the water. The temperature in that little cove was probably in the high seventies but it felt as refreshing as a fast-moving stream in the remote Sierras. I laid in the water like a pool-side tourist in Palm Springs and almost lost sight of the fact that the purpose of this arduous trek was to fish. I eventually got around to that and caught a couple of snook. It was the hardest pair of fish I ever worked for. ~ Nick Curcione


This article is an excerpt from Tug-O-War, A Fly-Fisher's Game By Nick Curcione and published by Frank Amato Publications.

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