Pinnacle: The most successful point. Unanimously amongst fly fisherman, the pinnacle is known as the grand slam. The most difficult feat to achieve, and not something done by many. It takes the perfect combination of skill, knowledge of a specific fishery, and luck in order to achieve this feat. To successfully target and catch a tarpon, bonefish or permit is not for the faint of heart. Now set your eyes on capturing all three in the same day, on a fly rod, is borderline impossible for most highly skilled anglers.
I find myself writing this in a bedroom of a house in Key West; just a block away from where I spent my childhood summers growing up, riding my bicycle to the pier with a rod in hand in hopes of catching anything. Just a few miles away from the seawall where I first saw a tarpon, at the young age of 7. In 1992, my grandfather, a Baptist Reverend had packed up and made his way to Key West to become the Pastor at the White Street Church. It was there where we spent most of our time, just a short bike ride away from the ocean. At this young age, I was fascinated by saltwater; something about the unknown had an affect on me. And then I saw these giant chrome-armored giants that were twice my size. My parents complained as they couldn’t stop the tarpon from eating their bait, as they tried to catch snapper. Now, the child inside of me saw two things, the fact my parents told me it was a bad thing to catch one along with the simple fact they were giant, silver and jumped like crazy made me want to catch one even more.
But here I am, twenty-plus years later, just a block away, with tarpon still on my mind. Mix in some bonefish and permit and it brings me to the impossible. Having caught many bonefish and tarpon on fly throughout the years, I have yet to catch a permit on the long rod. If there is any place in the world to do it, it’s here in Key West. This has inspired me to focus my new series “The Pinnacle Series” on the big three. The series consists of three fish, the Tarpon often referred to as the Silver King, known as a fierce fighter full of explosive acrobatics and pure strength; the Bonefish “The Gray Ghost”, Invisible to the common eye and one of the fastest fish to roam shallow waters, said to peel line off a fly reel excess of forty miles per hour, and then there’s the golden ticket of the flats, the Permit. With eyeballs the size of a basketball, probably the pickiest fish I have ever tossed a fly in front of. Their broad bodies magically disappearing under water. The Permit is my arch nemesis, It’s because this that the permit is also my favorite fish to paint. In this series, you will get a look into my mind when I think of these fish. One month in Key West to take it all in and focus on these fish, both on canvas with a paint brush and on the water with a fly rod in hand. My mind is set on these fish. I will post updates to the series as I go along. Keep checking in to stay caught up!
Before paint hits a canvas, I sketch my ideas onto paper. The past few months, I decided to sketch these in a sketch book rather than loose sheets of paper. The bright side to doing it in a book is that I focus more on the drawing, but the downside is I spend a lot more time on it, instead of just dropping a loose concept sketch. Here’s a look into that sketch book, specifically the three sketches that began to bring this series to life.
When ink hits the paper:
And the Bonefish.
That’s all for now, I will update regularly.
Until next time….