Low Tides lead to Tailing Reds

We’re stuck in a weird weather pattern. In fact, the damn weather has been off all year. Right now we have August temperatures in November. That’s crazy sh*t. The only good news is that we are starting to get those winter low tides that lead to “tailing” reds. Locally these tides are called minus tides. And they drain a ton of water off the flats.

This morning conditions were on target for “tailers”. A minus low tide, low light, and low wind. I left the ramp around 6:30AM. But things didn’t start well. Out on the flats I poled the Adios for over 40 minutes without seeing much. As the tide bottomed out, however, I spied a couple of tails. You gotta love it.

Sliding off the Adios, I slowly waded over to get a shot. With low water and calm conditions, you need to make a very delicate presentation. These fish are extremely spooky. Everything has to go just right. A sloppy cast or a fly that lands hard will send the fish tearing out of there. Zooming off the flat. And you have to be accurate too. A fly that lands behind the red or too far away will be ignored.

Tailing Redfish

Tailing Redfish

After getting into position, I carefully dropped a shrimp fly on the money, using a six-weight fly rod, and a ten-foot leader tapered to ten-pound test. I let the fly settle for a brief second and then started a slow strip. A moment later, the red nabbed the fly. Felt great, and it fought well. Mission accomplished. After a photo or two, I released it.

Six-Weight Tailing Red

Six-weight tailing red

Here’s the fly. Its pretty straight forward, and tied on a Mustad C70SD, size 2#. The tail is Craft Fur (Select?). I striped it with a laundry marker. The body is Woolly Chenille. Good stuff. Hidden upfront are a pair of dark brown bead chain eyes. They add a little weight. Yes, you’re right, those are red EP Shrimp Eyes sticking off the bend. Rubber legs, of course, don’t leave home without them.  And last but hardly least, the fly has a weed guard. Weed guards are critically important. Without them your fly will snag in the turtle grass. My weed guards are made from 20 pound, stiff mono. Heavier mono may interfere with your hook set.

Size 2# shrimp fly

Size 2# shrimp fly

Why so few tailing reds? I’m not sure, but here’s a thought for you. At this time of year, typically the water has cooled down, forcing small baitfish to flee the flats for deeper water. But our above average warm weather is allowing them to remain in good numbers. As a result, the reds still have them in their diet, and therefore aren’t completely left to “tailing” in the grass for shrimps and crabs.

Posted in Diablo Adios & Chupacabra, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Kayak / SUP Fishing, Tailing Redfish | Leave a comment

The Fishing Resumes!

The weather has had me in port for quite some time. Mondo wind, and dashes of rain. Woe is me. Yesterday, however, there was a break. I got the Adios to the ramp and paddled out, and lo and behold, the fishing resumes!

At first things were slow. Frankly it looked like I was going to get skunked, and I almost paddled back in. But as the day worn on the bite kicked in. Caught a couple of small snook. Glad to had them on the line, believe me. Then things got better. Much better. A wicked pounding strike produced, a nice redfish on my 8-weight. Super stuff. Love those reds. They are great fish. Hard fighting, strong, powerful beasts.

Redfish on a Fly

Redfish on a Fly

A couple dozen casts later, I found a bigger snook. Long although lean, snook tend to run on the thin side. It jumped several times, and yanked line off the reel. Put up a good show.

My friend Dave was fishing in the same area, and he got a redfish too.  Both reds were lighter in coloration, then the ones we caught earlier in the month. In part that indicates these latest reds have been living over sandy bottoms. It may also be a result of the water too. It has not only cooled five degrees, it has cleared considerably.



Snook on a Fly

Snook on a Fly

Dave's Redfish

Dave’s Redfish

Now for the oddest hookup of the day, a mullet. Yes, I accidentally snagged it. Mullet are plankton feeders and getting them to actually take a fly in the mouth is rare. Too bad, it could provide endless action. My fly hooked the little critter under the pectoral. And it took off like a damn bonefish! Unbelievably fast, and this fish was barely over a pound. Dave had to duck under my fly line as the mullet zipped by. Its amazing how hard a mullet fights. Homer Rhode Jr. felt they were pound-for-pound one of the toughest hombres on the flats. Now I know why. He fished for them with size 16 wet flies. Maybe I should give it a try.

A Mad Mullet

A Mad Mullet

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A Look at Flats Boots

Lets take a look at flats boots. When I lived in the Northeast, I never bothered to own a pair. Why? I rarely fished flats and when I did, I used my conventional waders. If I got lucky enough to go on a bonefishing trip, I brought along an a old pair of sneakers. But as time when on, I move to Florida and having a pair of flats boots became a necessity.

For a couple of years I used the Orvis Christmas Island Wading Boot. (No longer available. although there are similar products on the market.)) They were light-weight, under a hundred dollars, comfortable, and packed into a suitcase nicely. All good stuff. But there was a downside. I had the largest size, but unfortunately they were still a bit small for my size 13 feet. So I had to struggle to get them on and off. If I were only using them a couple times a year, that would have been fine. But I was using them nearly everyday. And all the tugging and pulling gradually broke the boot down – as you can see in the photo. Using good old “Goop” I patched them many times and got many more days on the water.

Orvis Christmas Island Boots

Orvis Christmas Island Boots

Eventually I had to replace them. So I looked around for something that came in larger sizes. That brought me to the Simms Flats Sneaker, which I bought from Bears Den about two months ago. Yes, at 120 smackeroos, they were more expensive. But this time a size 13 fit me great. Easy on, easy off, even with a pair of socks.  Note, I could not get them, however, to accept my stocking foot waders.

This boot is heavier than the one above. (The Orvis, with Goop, weighed in at 2lbs.5 oz; The Simms weights at 3lbs 7 ounces) and does not pack down as easily. But it is far sturdier, with thicker soles (non-marking), and more support all around. They are also very, very comfortable.

Simms Flats Sneaker                                                    Simms Flats Sneaker

I like the Simms Flat Sneaker, but see one small issue, and one potential issue. Unlike the Orvis boot, the Simms uses laces. I’m not against laces, but I have noted one problem. If you’re standing in shallow water of a foot or so, any fly line lying on the water can droop down and tangle in the laces. That’s a nuisance. An intermediate fly line would make matters worst. Now the potential issue. Note the collar on the boot on the right. The white material is puckering up. Hopefully it will not tear. We’ll see.

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Gear | 2 Comments

Winds courtesy of Joaquin

Big bad hurricane Joaquin is in the Atlantic. Yet over here on the Gulf side of Florida it is having an effect too. We have higher winds, mainly from the northwest. Three days so far,  and likely  two more days to come. Yes, ill winds courtesy of Joaquin.

Got out Wednesday evening. It was blowing up to 20 knots, more than I want in a kayak. But just offshore there is a small mangrove island where I could find some quiet water. So I headed there, and staked out in the lee.

Windy courtesy of Joaquin

Winds courtesy of Joaquin

Given the conditions, I took my trusty old 10-weight Sage RPL+.  Its a damn good rod in the wind. And its armed with a new fly line – an Airflo Tropical Punch. This fly line is super slick! Shoots like a dream. I wonder how long that slickness will last? Time will tell. It also boasts a low stretch core, which should improve hookups. And it contains no PVC, which could mean a longer life. Hope so. These new fly lines aren’t cheap. Managed to get one nice snook, before the winds blew me home.

Posted in Diablo Adios & Chupacabra, Environment, Fly Fishing in Salt Water | Leave a comment

Today’s Biggest Red

Caught a few this morning from the Adios. Here’s today’s biggest red. It weighted a crack over nine pounds on the Boga. Decent redfish for these waters. No it wasn’t on a fly, unfortunately. The fish were out of range. I was using a “walking the dog” style “top water” plug made by Rapala®. Its called a “Skitter Walk ®”.

Today's Biggest Red

Today’s Biggest Red

“Top water” plugs aren’t the best way to entice reds. Soft plastics are much, much better. Why? Soft plastics work under any conditions. Calm, choppy, overcast, bright, it doesn’t matter. “Top water” plugs work in pretty much calm conditions only; and they aren’t that good in bright light. Second, soft plastics are fairly operator proof. Anyone can use them. On the other hand, “top water” plugs take awhile to master. There is a trick to it. Third, a redfish’s mouth is slightly under-slung and not well suited to sucking stuff off the surface. So why bother to use a “top water”? The surface strikes are wicked, down-right ferocious. Well worth the effort, believe me. You’ll be shaking in your shoes.

Released 9 LB Redfish

Released 9 LB Redfish

Keep your hooks razor sharp. And keep your retrieve speed slow to moderate. If a red crash on the plug, but fails to connect, stop the plug for a second and then start again. Some reds will return and wallop the thing a second time. After you land a red, check your hooks, amigo. This fish bent both trebles, and both were brand new! Even after some work with my pliers they’re still not right.

Rapala Skitter Walk

Posted in Diablo Adios & Chupacabra, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Tailing Redfish | Leave a comment

Tailing Reds

We’re stuck in another long bout of rainy weather. Damn, not good. But when the radar allows, there is fishing to be done. Last night, I caught a ride with Dave. Traveling far and wide, we searched for reds with zero success. On the return trip home, however, our luck changed big time.

With night descending around us, Dave spotted three tailing red. As we inched closer, more tails appeared. Then more tails. Then it erupted into forty reds ripping it up. Tails, swirls,  the works. A memorable sight, a thing of beauty!

Dave's Fat Redfish

Dave’s Fat Redfish

We both got redfish out of the school. Very cool. Great fighting fish. Check out Dave’s. It’s a big fat beast for sure. I pray this is the beginning of a dry, productive fall.

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Tailing Redfish | Leave a comment

More Redfish for Dave

Even in this time of hot, dirty water, Dave continues to find reds. Its amazing really. But he has the prowess and the persistence. That’s what it takes, because these reds are few and far between. Believe me. You have to hunt them down between the damn thunderstorms. Nothing cherry pie about it.

A few nights back he found a bunch tailing in the grass. Got one. Nice fish!

Dave's Tailing Red

Dave’s Tailing Red

A night ago he caught two more! Here’s one of them. Way to go Dave!

Another Red for Dave

Another Red for Dave


Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water | 2 Comments

The Reds are on a Roll

Its been a long, hot summer, and fishing for reds has been painfully slow. Most days I came back without a single strike. Not only were there few reds on the flats, the ones I found had a case of lockjaw. But with the approach of autumn, things are changing fast. The reds are on a roll, schooling up, and ready to chew.

The Reds are on a Roll

The Reds are on a Roll

A few nights back Dave found a pod of reds. There were over fifty fish in the school, pushing water as they headed south on an ebbing tide. What a sight. Tails, backs, swirls, the works. With bad weather not far off, we had to act fast. We caught up with the reds. And catch fish we did!

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Sturgeon in the Connecticut River

I’ve have the good fortune to fish the Connecticut River from its headwaters near the Canadian line to its mouth on Long Island Sound. Along the way I’ve caught many species, but recently my son did me one better. He caught and released a fish I’ve never have – a sturgeon.

Sturgeon being Released

Sturgeon being Released

While working a deep channel with a blade bait, he hooked a three-foot sturgeon, one of the most primitive fish on the planet. It fought well on light tackle, and he released it alive back to the river. Please note that all sturgeon in the Connecticut are federally protected, and must be released immediately.

Was this an ultra rare Atlantic Surgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus, a fish thought to be near extinction? Well, a seven-foot female washed up in the river near Ely Ferry Road in Lyme, last April. So its possible. It caused quite a stir. But given my son’s fish’s size, it was more likely the Atlantic’s smaller and more common cousin, the Short Nose Sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum.While the Atlantic Surgeon reaches lengths of twelve feet, the Short Nose adult averages about three feet. Both species can live up to 75 years!


Posted in Environment, Wild Things | 2 Comments

Florida’s Vultures

Florida’s vultures are common year round. They’re big, busy, and everywhere. Down here, we have two types. The turkey vulture, and the black vulture. The turkey vulture has a redhead, a greater wing span, and is the stronger flyer. The black vulture has a black head, a smaller wing span and is less graceful aloft.

Both vultures thrive on carrion and road kills of all kinds. These feathered scavengers pick the bones clean in a matter of an hour. Amazing to watch. Black vulture can also be aggressive toward living domestic and wild animals, especially newborns. And get this. Black vulture may also attack your parked car, eating the rubber and plastic moldings. Crazy.

The armadillo's armor is all that was left behind

The armadillo’s armor is all that was left behind

A couple of days ago, near my house there was an dead armadillo in the middle of road. Given the current news reports about armadillos possibly carrying leprosy, I wasn’t about to remove it. The vultures left it alone too, which at first surprised me. Then I realized they didn’t want to deal with the armadillo’s bony armor.

Hours later, the armadillo got squashed by a car. Shortly after, three black vultures descended for the feast. Man, they’re fast workers. Soon all the meat was consumed, leaving only the armadillo’s bony armor behind.

How tough is that armor? Recently a guy in Texas went out into his yard, spotted an armadillo and shot it three times with .38 revolver. One round bounced back and hit him in the jaw, requiring a ride to the emergency room. The armadillo has yet to be found.

Posted in Environment, Looking Downward, Looking Upward, On the Road | Leave a comment