family vacation

Guest Blogger: Jeremy Anderson is an amateur fly tyer and professional Creative Director at an advertising agency in Nashville, Tennessee. He lives with his wife and two boys in a log cabin by the Harpeth River. You can find Jeremy @hacklejob

My wife and I have one of those rare relationships—we make every effort to go on a date once a week, but we also give each other the freedom to go off and do the things we love…alone. With two all-consuming young boys at home, it’s what keeps us happy, healthy and sane. Yet even with a wife who supports my fly fishing addiction, it’s a hard stage in our family life for me to be away for more than a day trip, which precludes any saltwater getaways for this Tennessee boy…unless it’s over vacation.

The first time I brought my rod to the beach on a family vacation, I set a bad precedent. My wife had prepared an idyllic family picnic at sunset, but I stayed in the surf that little bit too long (we all know where “just one more cast…” leads), and now there’s a law emblazoned on the trunk of our family tree: “Absolutely NO fishing on family vacation unless approved in advance by Her Majesty.” And guess when those approved times are—when everyone else is asleep.

My limited night fishing in the surf on dark, vacant Gulf Coast beaches has either meant not enough light to ensure I didn’t kill myself with a Clouser to the head or so much headwind that even a double haul with an 8 wt wasn’t enough to get my fly much further than I could spit. So, early mornings it was.

I’ll never forget the morning of my first snook encounter. I got on the beach just as the sun was rising and started working my way along the shore. I made a textbook cast to a school of fleeing baitfish and stripped hand over hand until what felt like a sledgehammer annihilated my streamer. I was somewhat amazed that I had the presence of mind to strip set the hook instead of my knee-jerk trout set, but after about 1.5 seconds, my pride and adrenaline fizzled to despair when the fight ended prematurely. I had failed to double check the perfection loop in my polyleader. I stood there dazed for a moment, as my now fly-less, slack line whipped my legs in the waves for my silly mistake.

The next morning, I wasn’t going to let any rookie errors stand between me and an epic battle. I was up before the chickens with triple-checked knots and my game face on. I tied on a local guide recommendation, the polar fiber minnow, and headed for the same spot while it was still dark out. Using the same approach, I kept targeting the tail end of schools of fish swimming for their lives but didn’t fool any of the pursuant predators. Until I did. Thankfully, this time my knots held as a snook took the hook in the corner of his mouth and gave me a ride that topped the best of Busch Gardens. There is nothing like the sound of a screaming drag and your heart pounding in your ears as you pray under your breath that this one isn’t going to be a long-distance release. For a guy who usually only tangles with smallmouth bass and stockies, it was sheer exhilaration.

After landing him and releasing him like a torpedo back into the turquoise water, it was time to make the family breakfast. I gratefully made my way back to the airbnb, contemplating the experience and how it was only the beginning of my saltwater fly fishing pursuits. Next on the list: tarpon and reds. I just need to clear it with my Queen.


  1. Thanks for a good read Jeremy. My thought: Nice family, nice tales, nice hobby, snooks sure are big, and “Clouser to the Head” sure is a great title for a thriller…and the next Bond Villain really oughta go that way. : )

    – Mike

  2. Thanks Michael! That means a lot coming from you, sir. I can see it now: a demented villain who slays only with a dastardly backcast…just when you thought it was safe to wade back into the trout stream. Brilliant.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I felt like I was back in Siesta Key chasing my first snook. The wife and the kids love to sleep late during Florida vacations, so I sneak my fishing trips in at the break of dawn as well. I usually get a nap in later when everyone is lying around on the beach anyway. Works out great!

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