This Memorial Day weekend was a get-away weekend for my wife and me. We did a whirl-wind tour of several Florida state parks we hadn't seen before, and I convinced her to plan to finish up at Honeymoon Island state park and let me have a go at saltwater fly fishing. I've done my fair share of freshwater fly fishing for bream and largemouth bass over the years, but never tried saltwater.

A few months ago I ran across one of Cabela's Cahill outfits, new in the box, in a pawn shop. At $30, it seemed like a decent buy so I picked it up and it's been waiting for a good outing. I didn't particularly want to subject my vintage Orvis glass to the harshness of the saltwater and beach, so I figured the Cahill would do for my first ocean outing. It's a 9 foot 8 weight, about right for light saltwater from what I've read. Friday I stopped by Andy Thornal's Orvis shop in Winter Haven and picked up a handful of saltwater flies (thanks, Allen!) and was good to go.

Somehow my wife didn't see the wisdom of getting up at the crack of dawn this morning to watch me tangle a fly line, so we were up at the crack of 9:30. A leisurely breakfast, pack up the car, check out of the hotel, and we headed for the island. Causeway traffic was insane (the foot traffic passed us), and the causeway beach was way too crowded to fish unless you were trying to set a light tackle record for biggest jetski catch.

The island itself wasn't too bad, at least at the north end. We hiked half a mile or so up the beach from the parking area and it wasn't crowded at all. Along the way I met a couple of folks leaving with a few trout, so I asked about the fishing. They told me the trout were active most of the morning, but the fishing had fallen off an hour or so before I arrived.

Oh well. Story of my life....

Anyway, a little after 12 noon I waded out and cast a shrimp imitation. On my third cast I tied into a ladyfish. Hey hey! This saltwater stuff is all right! Not the trout or red I had hoped for, but still, it was a fish and therefore fun.

My tolerant wife settled herself on the beach to spectate, and her tolerance lasted until about 1:30. An hour and a half of fishing let me get quite a few more ladyfish, a couple of small snappers, and one needlefish. The needlefish was quite an aerialist, which made him fun.

So I had a good time. No trout, no redfish, but still plenty of action and I enjoyed myself. The cheapo Cabela's rig worked much better than I had expected. I'll probably put a better line on it, and maybe a better reel; the rod casts better than I do, so I think it'll do for a while. I think a good line (maybe a Teeny big fly taper) will make it a decent light saltwater rig for the time being.

All in all, it was a fun start to saltwater fly fishing, and I'll be going back soon and regularly. I'm hoping to try Desoto Park next.

I'm very much in the learning phase right now, so any suggestions from you old salts will be appreciated!