What The Hell Is That?

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What The Hell Is That? Photo by Louis Cahill

Every once in a while you see something you just can’t explain.

I was shooting in the Florida Keys the other day with with my friend Capt. Joel Dickey. It was late in the day. The sun was hanging right on the horizon and I was making the best of the evening light. I was out of the boat, standing in wast deep water shooting Sandy Horn casting from the bow and Joel on the platform when Joel called out “we got a school of perms coming, big school”. I stayed still and quiet, excited about the chance to shoot a hookup from out of the boat. I could see the push about a hundred and fifty yards out. Joel wasn’t kidding about it being a big school. The push looked like the wake of a flats boat.

Our setup couldn’t have been better. The push was headed straight for us and fast. I could see Joel squinting into the glare. At a hundred yards he said, “no, it’s not permit”. A minute later, in a very different tone of voice he said,”oh my God that’s a f¥€king huge shark”. Now, I have heard these words before and I have seen sharks in the Keys bigger than a flats boat. You don’t have to say f¥€king huge shark to me twice. I made a little wake of my own getting back to the boat.

By this time the push was fifty yards away and closing fast. You could see the water parting off the dorsal fin. I thought about saying, “we’re gonna need a bigger boat”. Before I could it dawned on all of us that we should be able to see a fish that big by now, but we couldn’t. We could just see the push. “It must be bait”, Joel said. “Yeah” Sandy chimed in, “it’s bait”. It wasn’t bait. There were no bait fish breaking the surface. It was way too big anyway. Almost in unison we all said “what the hell is that”?

We were all three looking pretty dumbfounded. When the big push got fifty feet from the boat the air suddenly got cold. It had been a stifling ninety five degrees that day with no wind. When the temperature suddenly drops twenty degrees or so on a day like that the hair on the back of your neck stands up. “Now, that’s just creepy” Sandy whispered. It was Joel who figured out what we were witnessing. It was a water spout. Just forming. Just starting to lift it’s finger to the sky.

It passed twenty feet from the boat. The sound was amazing. The air was cold and still. I was awestruck. It had already passed the boat when Joel said, “you are going to get a picture of this, right?”. ” It was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. It passed twenty feet from me and I have no idea how it happened. That is, I couldn’t for the life of me explain to you how on a perfectly calm day water just gets restless and decides to go see what the clouds are doing. It was just some crazy, hand of God, shit. One of the hundreds of unique and mystifying experiences I would not have had if I had never picked up a fly rod.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline

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14 thoughts on “What The Hell Is That?

  1. I have seen water spouts on lake Erie while racing sailboats. Scary shit for sure. Big ones too.
    I have also seen small ones whipped up on the AuSable while in the drift boat. Equally as scary on a different scale. We could have ran into the woods from the ones on the AuSable. The one on the lake? Not so much. Being 80 miles from anywhere safe from those with no where to go is enough to fill your pants.

  2. Great story man. I search day in and day out for great fly fishing stories and great fly fishing pictures, and you guys have both in the same place. Awesome site. Looks like a found a place to spend my fish-less weekend.

  3. Very, very cool. The late Galen Rowell used to say, “f8.0 and be there”. In other words you’ll never get the shot or the experience unless you’re out there. You were out there Louis!! Awesome!!!

  4. Water spouts! I have seen many while diving the Gulf. Recently, while on another dive trip with my friends Jesse Cancelmo and John Scarcelli, we were about 60 miles offshore dodging storm cells when I saw a water spout form off our starboard side. As I continued to watch, another formed close to the first. Now I was getting concerned as I watched both head in our direction. Then, another formed next to the existing two. Needless to say we were changing course heading hoping to avoid colliding with the three storm cells when I saw a forth cell begin to form next to the three already moving on us. All four cells were stretched from the same storm cell to the water and moving rather quickly in unison. Seeing one water spout is not usually alarming. But seeing four, all threatening at the same time was definitely an event I will always remember!

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