A Ride to Pine Island

Yesterday I took a ride to Pine Island for a day on Pine Island Sound. Man, I would really like to know these waters better. The flats and back-country here are stunning, as good as it gets.

While unloading my Diablo, I meet a kayak angler coming off the water. He had been out there since 5AM! Naturally, I asked how the bite was. Shaking his head, he said it had been off for two days. Oh well, that’s fishing.

Pine Island Sound

Pine Island Sound

I decided to paddle south toward Cat Key, and then return, fishing with the wind at my back. The water was murky, but the tide was rising, bringing clear salt from the Gulf. So I figured things would get better as the day went on. And they did.

In the next couple of hours, I hooked two redfish, and two snook, one of which was tiny. Took his picture belong I let him go. Still overall the fishing wasn’t too bad. I ate a PB&J sandwich and sailed home, with the south wind shoving me along. It was a good day on Pine Island Sound.

Miniature Snook

Miniature Snook

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Did you Remember the Plug?

So you’re in a rush to get fishing. The alarm goes off. You down breakfast, then run out to the garage, hook the boat to the truck. Dig out all the rods, locate the tackle boxes, get the net, grab the anchor, pack a lunch, find the suntan lotion, find you lucky hat, call your buddy, get gas, fill up the cooler with ice, buy drinks, and then head to the ramp. Finally you’re ready to launch right? Did you remember the plug?????

Did you Put in the Plug?

Did you Put in the Plug?

At the ramp today I saw it happen again. Believe me it goes on all over the place. Folks launching their boats without putting in the drain plug. Ouch. Its not only embarrassing, its down-right dangerous.

Bailing the boat

Bailing the boat

This time it was no big deal. A few tense moments, but everybody is fine. But don’t forget the damn plug!

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Cabela’s CGR 7’6″, 7/8-weight, Fly Rod

Part three Took Cabela’s CGR 7’6″, 7/8-weight to the Florida flats the other day, lined with a 7-weight floater, a 10′ leader, and a size 4 fly.

Cabela's CGR 7'6", 7/8-weight, Fly Rod

Cabela’s CGR 7’6″, 7/8-weight, Fly Rod

I found the rod fun to fish, but a couple issues came up. We had a sea breeze during the flood, and I was casting into it. As you might imagine, a full-flex glass rod isn’t the best tool straight into the wind. By lengthening my backcast and my casting stroke, however, I was still able to stay in the game.

20150320_0399 As I waded deeper, however, my long backcasts were occasionally touching the water. Granted some of that was my fault. Yet this rod’s fairly slow action and short 7’6′ length were contributing to the problem. By raising my elbow and stopping the rod high during the backcast, the issue was remedied.

Overall, I like this rod, and feel it was a super buy. Granted, it isn’t going to be the most versatile rod in your arsenal. You’re going to have to pick and choose the right situations. Still where it fits, you’ll enjoy this glass stick, especially with a fish aboard.

Posted in Fiberglass Fly Rods, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Fly Rods | 2 Comments

Redfish Anyone?

In my little corner of this world, anglers are complaining. About what? The dearth of reds. Even the high and mighty guides are grumbling in their growlers. Where have all those beautiful, bronze battlers gone?

20150322_Dave's redfish_0391Here is an old saying in the brotherhood of the angle. It goes like this – ten percent of the anglers catch ninety percent of the fish. Lotsa truth in them words. Believe me. When things get tough, the tough get going, only the smart survive.

20150322_Dave's redfish_0397ARan into Dave today – the maestro of my locale flats. Guess what? Dave has been catching reds right along! Good ones too. Damn. Well, he has been wading these waters for thirty years. And its shows.

Understanding wildlife is no simple task. You have to learn the wind, the moon, and tide. Always ready to look, and listen. Ready to stand in the sun, the stars, and rain. And even then you have to expect the unexpected. Dave knows. Redfish anyone!

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Cabela’s CGR 7’6″, 7/8-weight, Fly Rod

Part Two In the last post we looked at the makeup and appearance of Cabela’s CGR, 7′ 6″, 7/8-weight fly rod. Now its time to put a reel and line on it.

I tried several reels to see how well they fit the reel seat. Those reels included a Hardy Princess, a Ross Canyon, a Pate Bonefish, and a Tibor Riptide. All were secure. However I noticed something right off. Even though this rod is 4.75 ounces, its short length makes it very light in the hand. But heavy reels such as the Pate and the Tibor quickly made it feel unbalanced. If you need a large diameter reel look for a light one. ( Medalist 1498?)

20150319_CGR Reel Seat_0388All my casting was done with a leader and a piece of yarn. I had a 10 knot crosswind tailing from the rear. Nothing too serious. Full-flex rods will usually accommodate a fairly wide range of line weights. So I began with a WF 5F. The action was medium-fast and the rod felt underlined, but would work if I pushed a little. Next came a WF6F. The rod was easier to work, but still cast off the tip-section.

With a WF 7F the rod slowed, working into the midsection, and felt very much at home. With a single backcast, it easily launched 70′ of line, plus leader. Nice. A WF8F forced the rod to flex into the butt a bit. If you’re looking for a traditional glass rod feel, this might be your baby. (A fly will slow things further). Lastly I tried a WF9F. Slower yet, the rod nevertheless cast surprisingly well, especially in close.

Short rods are very accurate, and this one is no exception. Its capable of pinpoint deliveries. And at 7’6″ you can make those deliveries low to the water.  As a result, from a boat this rod will be a good choice when working the wooded shoreline of a lake. You’ll be able to drop flies under tree limbs all day long.

In the next post, I add a fly and take the rod to the water. We’re bound to learn more.

 

 

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Cabela’s CGR 7’6″, 7/8-weight, Fly Rod

Part One A few years back Cabela released their line of 50th Anniversary glass fly rods (CGR). At 99 buckeroos the prices were reasonable, so I got one, a 5’9″, 3 piece, 3-weight. It turned out to be a fine little rod and well worth the money. In April of 2011, I reviewed it on this site.

Recently Cabela introduced a new line of fiberglass rods, that resemble the original Anniversary models. That got my attention. Making matters more interesting, Cabela had placed these rods on the market, for a limited time, at 79 bucks each. Remarkable, and irresistible. I had to pick one up.

Cabela’s CGR 7/8 Weight Glass Fly Rod

Last time, I chose the smallest rod they offered; this time I took the biggest. It is Cabela’s CGR  7’6″, 7/8 -weight, glass fly rod. So let’s do a review. In this post we’ll look at the basic construction and appearance of the rod. Next time we’ll chuck some line with it.

Like the Anniversary models, the 3-piece blank (E Glass) is green and made in China. It weights in at 4.75 ounces, not bad. I don’t have a direct comparison, but this might give you some idea. A typical 9′, 4-piece, graphite, 8-weight would tip in around 4.60 ounces.

The CGR 7/8-Wt weighs 4.75 ounces

The CGR 7/8-Wt weighs 4.75 ounces

The rod has a single up-locking aluminum reel seat, with an attractive bead-blast finish. It also has a permanent 3/4″ butt extension. The grip is a 7″ full wells. It is properly shaped and the cork seems pretty darn good. There is only one stripping guide, followed by 6 snakes guides and a tip-top. All wraps are black, a few of which are tipped in silver. The rod tube is a grey nylon, and measures 34 1/2″. Which means you’ll likely be able to carry it on most airlines. Sorry, no rod sock, but the tube has an interior divider.

Overall, the rod looks fairly nice, and is light in the hand. And the spigot ferrules (no alignment dots ) fit snugly.  So far I’m impressed, especially given the sweet price.

 

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Back on the Florida Flats

This morning I got back on the Florida flats. It was a beautiful day, with a low tide around 9AM. Wind from the southeast. I wasn’t able to catch many fish, but I saw quite a few. That’s a great sign for the days ahead.

Spotted Sea trout

Spotted Sea trout

While poling the Adios north, I spooked two schools of reds. Nice sized fish too. Both schools were in the same general vicinity, laid up in skinny water along the sandbar, awaiting the flooding tide. Never even got a chance to cast to either school. That’s fishing.

Later I caught and released a nice spotted sea trout. There were plenty of  sheephead around all morning, and I saw a big school of pompano too. Hopefully good days are coming.

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Long Island Bonefishing Lodge

Part 6,  Island Sights

During our stay at the Long Island Bonefishing Lodge, we lost one entire day of fishing to 30 knot winds, courtesy of a wicked cold front that enveloped the southeast Atlantic seaboard, spilled down into Bahamas.

Thankfully the guide commandeered the lodge’s car and took us for a tour of the island. Our first stop was the Long Island Museum in Deadman’s, where the history and culture of the island is on display. It is a small museum, but well-worth seeing.

Dean's Blue Hole

Dean’s Blue Hole

On the Atlantic side, south of the settlement of Scrub Hill and north of Clarence Town, we next visited a natural phenomenon know around the world as Dean’s Blue Hole. Dean’s is the world’s deepest blue hole, descending some 663 feet straight down. Like a liquid eye, it gazes up out of the surrounding sand with an intense cobalt stare. It is an amazing sight.

Twice a year the world championship freedivers converge here to test their skill. Long Island legend William Trubridge is one of the very best, having descended to 282 feet without the use of fins. An incredible feat.

In Clarence Town, the island’s capital, we saw the twin churches of St. Paul’s

St.Peter's & St. Paul's Church

St.Peter’s & St. Paul’s Church

Anglican Church, and Peter’s & Paul’s Catholic Church both designed a hundred years ago by Father Jerome Hawes, who was also a trained architect. Later he moved to nearby Cat Island, where he built a Hermitage on Bahama’s highest point, Mount Alvernia. There he spent his finally 17 years.

On the ride back, we stopped at Max’s Conch Bar and Grill, one of the most famous bars in the Bahamas. Run by Gary Ritchie (Max) and his wife Liz, this fun zone sits aside the road under a thatched roof with plenty of cold Bahamian beer on hand.

Max's Conch Bar and Grill

Max’s Conch Bar and Grill

Not interested in a cold Kalik? No problem. Max is adept at mixing up some killer concoctions. One or two of these mysterious libations will have you forgetting your troubles’mon. Along with powerful potions, Max’s is also well-known for serving up good food – ranging from a wide selection of conch dishes, to fish, chicken and jerk pork.

Max at Work

Max at Work

Posted in Bonefishing, Looking Downward, On the Road | 3 Comments

Long Island Bonefishing Lodge

Part 5,    Rods, Lines & Leaders

The Long Island Bonefishing Lodge recommends rods from 7 to 9-weight.  I found a

Deadman's Cay Bonefish

A Deadman’s Cay Bonefish

7-weight fly rod to be a great tool, and frankly next time I’ll bring a 6-weight.

Why light fly rods? As long as the wind isn’t howling, a saltwater 6 or 7-weight fly rod has no problem accurately delivering a size 6 or 8 fly. Second, these lighter fly lines make a much gentler presentation. A major plus. And third, given the size of the average bonefish on Deadman’s, these lighter rods are a hoot.

I used Rio Floating Bonefish lines; at no time did I feel the need for an intermediate fly line. My leaders were 12 footers made from Rio Saltwater Hard Mono (a royal pain to knot). They straightened out nicely, even in the wind, which helped with accuracy. My tippet was 32 inches of 1x Seaguar Grand Max Fluorocarbon (awful expensive). At a thin .012″ it tests out at a whopping 18.5 lbs, and worked well.  Was that pricy stuff totally necessary? No, 10 or 12 pound mono will likely suffice.

Another Deadman's Cay Bone

Another Deadman’s Cay Bone

Bonefish are called the “ghost” of the flats for a good reason, but here at Deadman’s Cay they are not that hard to spot, because of the light bottoms and transparent shallow water. Check out the released bone in the next picture. I caught it in water barely covering its back. In following picture you see the difference over a darker bottom.

A Deadman's Cay Bonefish over a white bottom

A Deadman’s Cay Bonefish over a white bottom

A Deadman's Cay Bone over a darker bottom

A Deadman’s Cay Bone over a darker bottom

In Part 6, I’ll tell you a few more things about Deadman’s Cay

 

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Long Island Bonefishing Lodge

Part 4,    Flies for Deadman’s Cay

Ok, time to talk flies! But before we dive in, I have a thought for you. While I’m far from the most experienced bonefisherman, I feel confident in saying this: on the flats “presentation” is king, fly pattern is queen.  That doesn’t mean fly patterns are unimportant, only that your ability to deliver a fly accurately, softly,  and on time, is far more important. Enough said.

My Fly Box

My Fly Box

The Long Island Bonefishing Lodge suggests several fly patterns (Gotchas, Charlies, Puffs…etc.) in sizes 4,6,8 – of varying colors and weights. Fair enough, but let me refine that for you.

On the flats of Deadman’s Cay, our fishing was done in 5-15 inches of water. Skinny, skinny water. Consequently, any fly that landed with a “plop” immediately spooked fish.  Instantly! So small, lightly weighted (or unweighted) flies ruled.  Sizes 6 and 8 flies with bead-chain, or key-chain, eyes are as heavy as you want to go. Lead-eye flies were verboten. They may work wonders on the ocean-side flats, or farther north, but not here. (Weighted or unweighted, be sure you’re flies ride hook up. I’ll tell you why at the end of this post.)

Because the bottoms are mainly light-colored, light-colored flies did yoke-man’s duty – white, pearl, pink, tan…etc. But don’t be afraid to add a splash of color. It helps catch the “bone’s” attention. As you can see in my fly box above, I like some yellow, purple, pink, orange, or red in my flies.  And I also like colorful rubber legs. They’re helpful too. (Check occasionally that they haven’t fouled around the hook.)

Size 8 Gotcha-type & a Size 6 Puff

Size 8 Gotcha-type & a Size 6 Puff

Here’s two flies that worked for me. A size 6, Puff and a size 8 Gotcha-type fly. By the way, you can find well-tied bonefish patterns, at excellent prices, over at Discount Flies.com

Let me mention one final point ( no pun intended). Be sure your flies ride hook up. Why? Two reasons. Obviously a hook that rides up is a help when fishing over a turtle grass bottom. Second, and more importantly, a bonefish’s mouth is oddly shaped. It points downward, and the upper jaw is noticeably longer than the bottom jaw. A hook riding point up is far more likely to find a secure hold.

Part 5, will  cover rods, leaders & lines

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