Building a Crab Fly – Monkey See, Monkey Do

In the previous post, I showed you a crab fly that Dave used to nail a nice red – of near 8 pounds. Great fish. That got me headed to the vise to build a crab fly too. Hey, monkey see, monkey do. I chose a size 1# hook. I think a 2# would have worked,  but I wanted a bit more weight to get the fly down. Naturally I picked rubber legs with a touch of hot orange. So they went on the hook first. Then I made a body from Craft Fur. Color? Shrimp.

Crab Fly for Redfish

Crab Fly for Redfish

Near the eye of the hook, I tied in a 1/36 ounce lead eye. This will also help get the fly down where it belongs. Moreover, during the retrieve a lead eye causes the fly to jig. That type of action is a proven way of catching a redfish’s attention.

Crab Fly

Crab Fly

Next I tied in a 30 pound mono weed guard. If you look closely you can see it in the picture above. Since I wanted the body to hold its shape, I worked a little super glue into the Craft Fur. Lastly, I used laundry markers to add color to the carapace.  Brown, green,  and even a hint of red. So will this crab fly work? I hope so.

 

Posted in Flies and Fly Tying, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Kayak / SUP Fishing | Leave a comment

Dave Does it Again!

Well, I decided to take a day off from those fussy, frustrating, rolling, refusing, uncooperative tarpon. Those unwilling beast can drive you crazy. So I paddled back to the flats instead, and ran into Dave.  I continue to be impressed with his ability to catch redfish. He truly is a flats master. The man has it down. Believe me catching reds on a fly in these skinny waters requires serious skill.  But Dave makes it look easy. I’m learning mucho from the maestro.

Dave Does it Again!

Dave Does it Again!

In the picture Dave is holding a chunky red. Check out the surprised look on that red’s face! How the hell did this happened to me? Dave caught it on a crab fly with rubber legs. You know I’m a believer in those dangling latex fingers. They seem to attract reds. Note too, the touch of orange in the fly. Orange is a great color down here. It works, plain and simple. Yes, earth tones are very useful too, but just like a burrito you want to add a touch of heat – orange, yellow or chartreuse.

Crab Fly with Rubber Legs

Crab Fly with Rubber Legs

Notice how light colored this redfish is? Many game fish take on the color of their surroundings.  Makes it easier to hide, right? Obviously this red has been spending much of its time over the sandbar. Hence the pale look. Over a grass bottom, redfish turn a deep bronze. If you have ever fished for striped bass you have seen the same effect. In a river like the Hudson or even in Long Island Sound, stripers are often very dark. Their backs may be solid black. But up on Cape Cod – with its crystal clear waters and pure sand bottoms – striped bass get milky white.

 

 

Posted in Flies and Fly Tying, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Wild Things | Leave a comment

Tarpon Time Returns

Last year at this time I found tarpon nearby. So 3 days back, I checked. Bingo, they are there once again. Tarpon time returns. I did not see as many fish as last year. In fact, I saw only about a third. With luck, more tarpon may  be on their way.

Tarpon Time Returns

Tarpon Time Returns

Today, I took my first shot at them. The wind was northeast. After two days of very heavy SSE winds, now we have damn cold front to deal with. I put in the whole morning without a hookup. These fish were very tough last year; and I expect the same trouble this time around. But I’m going to put in the effort and see what I can do.  After all, Kings from kayaks is a killer game!

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Kayak / SUP Fishing | Leave a comment

Spotted Seatrout save the Day

Ok, ready for some excuses? The wind has been keeping me off the water. And when I do get out the fishing has been poor. Not sure whats going on. Perhaps its just me. Perhaps its the high pressure we have been under the influence of for a week. Along the New England coast, high pressure in the spring is a killer. Maybe its the same down here. Not sure.

Released Spotted Seatrout

Released Spotted Seatrout

Yesterday morning the wind was down. So I got out and caught some spotted seatrout. “Trout” often save the angler’s day in Charlotte Harbor.  They bite readily and are easy to find. Unfortunately, “trout” run on the small side in these waters. A 15 inch one is a keeper. And a fair percent of the fish you hook are under that. Told you they were small.  The one in the picture is 18 inch and would be considered a bigger “trout”.  Too bad they don’t grow larger like they do the east coast of Florida.

Posted in Kayak / SUP Fishing | Leave a comment

More Flats Strategy: Heave & Leave

A couple days ago, I  was poling down the flat when I ran into Dave. Dave is considered by many to be one of – if not the best – local fly fisherman. I’ve been fishing here about 18 months; Dave has been fishing these waters about 30 years! So I have a lot to learn from Dave. And he has been kind enough to share his knowledge, including a strategy he calls “heave” & “leave”.

Dave with a "heave" and "leave" redfish

Dave with a “heave” and “leave” redfish

Turned out he had a school of redfish milling around in front of him. They were out a bit, hanging just beyond a dark patch of grass. The fish moved back and forth, but occasionally they came into range. Now common practice is to heave a fly out in front of the school, and let it sink. When the lead fish arrives, you begin a slow retrieve, and hope the fish grabs the fly. But Dave had a different plan.

"Heave" and "Leave" Redfish

“Heave” and “Leave” Redfish

Dave told me about a tactic he learned from the late Brock Affel (?). After the fly settles, Dave leaves it on the bottom, allowing the lead fish to swim by it. Only when the rest of the school reaches the fly does he start a retrieve. This is the “heave” and “leave” strategy.  Sounded like what some guys do just before the bar closes. LOL

So whats the reasoning behind this idea. The lead fish is on high alert for danger, and anything that moves -including your fly- may spook that fish. Which in turn spooks the entire school.  By permitting the lead fish to pass by, you avoid that potential problem. And very often the next few fish to arrive are less wary and more ready to eat. Interesting stuff.

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Wild Things | Leave a comment

Fishing the Flats: Two Basic Strategies

When fishing the flats, there are two basic angling strategies; and they are the same two you use anywhere. You move around -wetting a line in a number of places – hoping to find the fish. Or you head to proven spot -one that often holds fish- and stick it out until they arrive. Obviously, in both cases you still have to judge the wind and the tide.

Which way is better? Neither strategy is superior to the other. Some days you’re better off searching around; some days you’re better off staying put. But there is one thing I’m sure is true. If on a given day one strategy isn’t working, give the other a chance.

redfish_20140311_2803 crop copy

Yesterday’s Redfish being Released

On the flats, I call these two strategies “pole” or “post”. Either I “pole” the kayak around hunting for action, or I “post”myself in a good location and see whats up. Yesterday I spent the majority of the day “poling”. Came up empty handed. So I switched gears and “posted” myself in a known hot spot. In short order I hooked 4 fish. That’s the nature of angling; its always a challenge.

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Kayak / SUP Fishing | Leave a comment

More Jacks on the Flats

During the winter, the wind comes up here in Florida. Depending on its strength and direction, some days it makes fly fishing very difficult. With that in mind, recently I bought a 10 pound spinning outfit, and some suspending twitch baits. Today it paid off.

Releasing a Jack on the Flats

Releasing a Jack on the Flats

Towards the end of the afternoon, the wind rose in the west, and I put away the fly rod. Using a Mirrodine 17 MR, I put the spinning rod to work on a flat near the marina. About ten casts in, I got a violent strike; one that literally sent white water into the air. Then the drag sang for several minutes, emitting hundreds of feet of line as the fish rocketed across the flat. I was hoping it was a huge red. Instead it turned out to be a 7 plus pound jack. What a war. Man these jack are as good as it gets on the flats.

Posted in Kayak / SUP Fishing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adding an Electric Motor to your Kayak

I was out on the flats yesterday, and ran into Pete, an avid angler from the local fly club. Pete has a motorized kayak or two. Frankly I’m seeing more and more kayaks with electric motors. His Ocean Kayak is set up for two different ones. He has a “Torqeedo” and a “Watersnake”. The “Torqeedo” is a high tech product out of Germany, that runs on a lithium battery, much like a laptop. At 15 pound for motor and battery, its very light weight, but an expensive unit. The “Watersnake” is a low cost option and runs off a wet cell 12 volt wheelchair battery that he stores under the front hatch.

Pete's kayak with a Watersnake installed

Pete’s kayak with a Watersnake installed

Pete has had some troubles with his “Torqeedo”. The “Watersnake”, on the other hand has yet to bite him. Pete cajoled a friend into building a bracket for his kayak that holds either electric unit. Sweet science that. These electric motors greatly increase his range, and lower his workload. Kayaks just keep getting more and more interesting.

Watersnake Electric Trolling Motor installed

Watersnake Electric Trolling Motor installed

 

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Kayak / SUP Fishing | Leave a comment

The Florida Flats are Heating up

Spent the whole day on the flats of Charlotte Harbor. Launched an hour after sunrise. Came back in around 4pm. The fishing has been slow, but things are heating up a bit. Caught a nice red and a decent snook. Rays running around. Plenty of bait filtering in too. Its small at this point. But the temperature is rising daily. And I know the fishing is going to crank up very soon.

Released Redfish

Released Redfish

In the weeks ahead, I expect more reds, more snook and trout will be prowling the flats. And they will be more agressive too. Ready to take a fly. Then by month’s end, tarpon will start to arrive. Great news. Game on!

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water | Leave a comment

Polyphemus. No, not the Cyclops the Moth

I went to get the mail today and ran into Polyphemus. No, not the legendary cyclops that trapped Odysseus and his men. Polyphemus the moth. This one was about 5 inches across, big enough to cover most of your hand. It reminded me of nights on Martha’s Vineyard. Occasionally we would return to the house from Dogfish Bar around 3AM. On damp, foggy nights, the wall under the night light would be covered with moths of all sizes and colors, including giant luna moths. It looked like a fleet of alien spaceships.

Polyphemus at the post box

Polyphemus at the post box

This photograph doesn’t do polyphemus justice. See the small “eye” on each wing? Well the under wings each have a huge colorful “eye”. Unfortunately they’re hidden at the moment. These “eyes” are how the moth got its reference to the cyclop. But to show you the other eyes, I would have had to disturb this moth. Better to let it live, for tonight it will mate.

 

Posted in Looking Upward, Wild Things | Leave a comment