Back in late September, a buddy Jack Branston and I drove down to the Florida Keys in hopes to have a successful two weeks on the water.  For the most part, this was a “do it yourself” trip, which was successful in 2007.  Looking back at this trip I can say that we failed miserably in the category of catching fish, partly due to bad weather and the fact that the downtown flats aren’t exactly the easiest place to catch fish.

We did, however, leave Florida with an experience that I will never forget.  Halfway through the two week trip, Jack and I are poling into a flat near the Lignumvitae Key to snap some shots of the birds hanging around in the mangroves.

Matt Jones

Pelican resting near Lignumvitae Key. Photo by: Matt Jones

Wrapping up with the photography, Jack and I noticed a large disturbance on the next flat.  It was obviously a huge fish, but was hard to identify exactly what it was.  So, we decide to go check it out.  We pull up onto the flat in our 14ft aluminum john boat and were astonished at what we were witnessing.  This disturbance turns out to be an enormous hammerhead eating a sting ray that was close to the size of the hood on our SUV.  We watched this shark rip this ray apart for over 20 minutes.  This hammerhead didn’t care that we were there, he was eating.   He was so focused on his meal that he ended up swimming underneath our john boat, slapping the hull with his tail on his way out.  Truly the most amazing thing I have seen.

We were both lucky to have seen that.  You never know what you will see when you are out fishing the flats!

Matt Jones

Tailing hammerhead. Photo by: Matt Jones

Matt Jones

After he swims under the boat! Photo by: Matt Jones

Matt Jones

Another closeup. Photo by: Matt Jones

About The Author

Matt Jones is our Texas-grown media geek. Matt is responsible for all our graphic design, web creative, and photography. In addition to traveling the globe shooting much of our travel department’s imagery, you may also recognize many of Matt’s photos published in all forms of fly fishing media including the Drake and Fly Fish Journal as well as the use of his images in marketing and media for Patagonia Clothing Company, Costa Sunglasses, Loon Outdoors, Howler Bros, and much more. Matt is an avid angler, but almost never puts down the camera for the fly rod. He lives in Dallas with his wife Andi and golden retriever, Stinkley (Brinkley).

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2 Responses

  1. Joel Hays

    Hey Matt,

    What was the hammerhead “tailing” on? I’ve seen little bonnetheads tail but never anything that size!


  2. jeremy

    So true. “You never know what you will see” – That ‘pretty’ clear shallow water is very deceiving … lot’s of stuff gets killed on those flats, every day. Things are not always as they appear in that environment — and in the case of the stingray, he found that out the hard way. Great story.


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