Pretty picture, huh? This was the view from the bow of a flats skiff I was on in the Florida Keys a few days ago. As a saltwater angler this is not what you want to see. Blue skies and warm water are the keys to happy tarpon and permit in March. Ominous clouds and sunbeams make for a nice photo, but they are terrible for sight fishing. Throw in a little wind and my four day trip was pretty much shot from a gamefish perspective.
As my guide reminded me, these are the dues you pay to play in the big leagues, and I should count myself lucky that trout fishing isn't so harsh. Clouds? Bring on the mayflies! Wind? Go fish a good leeward bend or protected creek. Cold? Layer up, the trout are still there. Sure, we have days where the conditions beyond our control make for unproductive fishing, but for the most part a good angler and guide can find some happy fish even on the tough days.
Tricky fishing conditions are also a good reminder to appreciate the rest of the experience. Big barracuda chasing and exploding on a surface plug is definitely exciting. Pulling stone crab traps and hustling home to boil and eat the claws is the definition of fresh seafood. Finally finding a flurry of shots at permit on the flats, despite their stubborn refusals and short attention span, is what I was dreaming about for the last twelve months. Too short, but still the real deal.
There is always a risk when you travel for adventure that the conditions won't be what you hoped for - that is part of what makes it an adventure and not a contrived experience - and that risk reward payoff is why I'll be back again next year. With some crab tongs in my pocket.