With something like 280 fires burning throughout Florida, and winds from the west and north, the air is worse than in New York City and the little fish the tarpon eat like popcorn in Boca Grande pass have vamoosed. By the time we arrived at Capt. Ray Van Horn’s other hotspot, a place where the silver kings were corralled by sharks the day before, the fish were gone from there, too. What to do?

We slipped into the backcountry trying to scratch some redfish and snook at least to get tight on something. Bad joss there, too. It took all day to take and release a small snook, and finally a just-legal redfish. That baby went into the cooler for dinner. Not that it would feed Capt. Van Horn, Capt CA Richardson, Senior Editor Brian Lynn and yours truly, but it was going to make some pretty picking, Cajun style, as a test, really. The restaurant at Burnt Store resort/marina where we were staying is called Porto Bello, and they’ll cook up fish you elect to keep. Let me tell you what they did to that redfish was magic. I tried keeping the dish away from everybody but without success. Sure wish we’d had some more.

We have one more day here. Capt. Ray says he’s never seen the tarpon leave the pass more than three days during peak season—which is now. Tomorrow is day four. We’ll see.