Be a Huckleberry
Southlake Style's Rafe Hembree resolves to catch the elusive Permit fish
Great Outdoors by Rafe Hembree
Does anyone even make New Year’s Resolutions anymore or am I the only one left on the planet who wants to start off with a declaration of what I’m going to accomplish for the year? After all, the definition of a resolution is: A firm decision to do or not to do something. Some of my resolutions are repetitive, such as going fly fishing to at least two out of state destinations per year. Usually, I throw in a few new concepts or ideas and make sure they happen or at least give it my best shot. Val Kilmer made famous a phrase in the 1988 film Young Guns, and it was the simple one-liner, “I’m your Huckleberry.” He was challenging a gentleman to a gun fight in Doc Holiday’s true form. Resolutions can sometimes be challenging in the same manner to try and accomplish, especially if you set some lofty goals – though what’s the fun in making resolutions too easy, right?
A couple years ago my good friend, let’s call him Zack, called and invited me on a trip to Belize to catch Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit on the fly. “I’m your Huckleberry,” I said….of course after I cleared all social calendars and took the wife on a nice date to explain to her why it was so important that I go on this more than short notice trip of a lifetime. As it turns out, that’s exactly what it was and I’d do it again if given the chance. There were six of us and we all caught plenty of Bones, Baracuda and Jacks. Most of us had shots at Tarpon and Permit too and there was at least one landed.
On the trip, Zack had told me about how many times he’d been fishing in Belize and how he’d never caught a Permit. He also mentioned that it was his constant New Year’s Resolution and during this trip, he was determined to catch one. This was a three day trip and day one had come and gone. No sight of a single Permit. It must be pointed out that this fish is the most sought after target for saltwater fly fisherman because (and I’ll just be blunt) it’s simply the hardest to catch. The Permit is very elusive and very picky about what it eats. It can follow your fly for 20 or 30 feet and then deny you as if tormenting you was its purpose all along.
On the second day, I had my heart broken several times due to denials from these picky Permits, not to mention my horrible casting skills that seemed to be falling apart all at the wrong time. Hey, we all have our moments, but mine seemed to be occurring when I had legit chances for a hook up. Zack, however, was on the mark that day and for once he made the perfect cast to a willing Permit. It ate his fly and the fight ensued. It was a proud moment and of course it was a memory for a lifetime. Finally, that year, he closed the door on that particular resolution.
Resolutions are fun and if you’re a goal oriented person, then they can be fulfilling. I don’t get lost in them too much, but if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to move Heaven and Earth to see that it gets done or die trying. The path may not always be pretty, but if the resolution is complete, then I’m satisfied. Get creative and dare to get out of your comfort zone. Be a Huckleberry and make a resolution that will carry a memory. You’ll be glad you did.
Southlake's Rafe Hembree is a born and raised Texan, husband and father of four. Rafe, a Texas Tech alum, has been hunting and fishing since he was knee high to a prairie dog. A true outdoorsman and conservationist, he travels the world in search of the best hunting and fishing locales, especially for his favorite activity - Saltwater Fly Fishing. A volunteer guide with Reel Recovery, Rafe looks forward to sharing his experiences with family, friends and readers of Southlake Style.