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!

 

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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

Coyote Creek

My buddy Pete is up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. I’ve gone through that area and know its a spectacular spot.

At the moment, Pete, and his wife Linda, have their RV in Coyote Creek State Park, near the little town of Guadalupita. Coyote Creek is heavily stocked with rainbow trout, and he tells me he’s been fishing for them with his spinning rod. Yesterday he ran into a fly-fisherman named Rich working the same waters, and nailing rainbows left and right. Naturally Pete asked what Rich was using.  Rich showed him the fly, gave him one, and told him how to rig it with a float on a spinning rod. Very nice of Rich.

Coyote Creek 2 web

Pete with his rainbows

As soon as Pete switched over to the fly he caught one trout right after the other. Pete’s not sure what the fly is called, but you can see it in the next photograph. Looks to me little like a wooly worm or perhaps a waterboatman imitation. Whatever it is, it worked like magic.

Rainbows with fly

Rainbows with fly

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Freshwater | Leave a comment

Joe Brooks – One of the Greatest

A fine new project is underway to document the role Joe Brooks played in the history of fly-fishing. No question, Joe Brooks was one of the greatest anglers to ever pick up the long wand. A masterful caster, he traveled widely, perhaps more so than another angler of his time, wrote often, promoted the sport to many, and constantly broken new ground. No wonder he has been called the father of modern fly-fishing.

Joe Brooks was active in both fresh and saltwater fly-fishing. Still he always found time to help other anglers including Lefty Kreh. My library had nearly all of Joe’s titles, even the harder to find Bermuda Fishing, 1957. In 1948, Joe penned the first book dedicated to largemouth bass on a fly rod. Even more notable, at least from my view point, is his Salt Water Fly Fishing, Putnam, 1950. It is the very first book ever totally devoted to the salt side of the game. Quite an accomplishment.

Salt Water Fly Fishing isn’t a huge volume by today’s standards, but it offered information that encompassed the entire Atlantic coast, from Key West to Maine, from bonefish to striped bass. Furthermore, in the book Joe presents the first series of saltwater fly patterns ever created. (I wrote about them in an article entitled The Upperman Joe Brooks Flies, Fly Tyer magazine, spring 2001) These early flies predate even his well-known Blonde series.

Unfortunately not enough has been written about the man behind the legend. And that is why this new project is so exciting and worthwhile. I urge you to visit the following sites to learn more about the Joe Brooks. You’ll be glad you did!

Website
http://joebrooksdocumentary.com

https://www.facebook.com/JoeBrooksFlyFishing

Twitter
https://www.facebook.com/JoeBrooksFlyFishing

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Freshwater, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Outdoor Writing | Leave a comment

Dr.Slick Long Range Clamps

Fly anglers typically hook fish in the jaw. Nice. So removing the hook is usually an easy task. But the recent snook bite here has been an big exception. These snook are so aggressive that many of them inhale the fly. Hence they are taking the fly so deep, it difficult to extract it without causing damage to the fish. Not good.

Because of that, I’ve been looking around to replace my standard size forceps with a longer pair, long enough to reach down a snook’s gullet. What I found was a new item from Dr. Slick called their Long Range Clamp.

Dr Slick Long Range Clamps

Dr Slick Long Range Clamps

I’ve used them several times, so let me to offer some initial thoughts. Here we go – a review of Dr. Slick Long Range Clamps. These clamps are indeed long range, measuring 10 inches. They weigh 5.45 ounces. That makes them sturdy, but also a bit heavy. I got them at Bears Den for $20.50.

Honestly, they worked great on the snook, although they are bigger and heavier than I really need. And it is easy to see they will be super for tarpon, sharks, barracuda, especially when landed from a high sided boat. On the flats, these clamps are also handy for unhooking fish you want to avoid handling because of poisonous spines, slime, or teeth. In that regard, I’m using them for critters like catfish, ladyfish, blowfish, leather jacks, and lizard fish. So these clamps are proving quite handy, and I’m glad I got them.

In my experience, Dr Slick products typically tarnish in saltwater, and these clamps are no exception. You’ll want to rinse them off occasionally or expect problems down the road. I’ll report back as these clamps get more wear.

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Tailing” Snook?

20150601_0474 North Island webSaw something new today. I was fishing the sandbar about two hours into the ebb. The snook action had been fairly good on the bar, but I decided to turn and look inland. About 200 hundred feet away, along the edge of the grass bed, I spotted  a redfish tail waving to me. Great news!

After cutting off the streamer, I dug out a small Crazy Charlie from my pack, and tied it on. Then I waded over quietly. Fortunately for me, the fish remained in place, allowing me to get a good casting angle. As I prepared to cast I notice additional “tails” feeding in the same spot.

Tailing Snook?

Tailing Snook?

My first cast was short, but the second cast landed on the button. Bang! A fish took immediately, and torn off, causing the other fish to rip out of there. I figured I had a nice red, but I was wrong. It turned out to be a 27 inch snook!

Later I told my friend Dave about my “tailing” snook. He informed me that snook sometimes hover near “tailing” reds, hoping to grab anything the reds stir up. Dave calls them “hitchhiker” snook.  Made sense. I’m sure I saw a redfish tail, but what I had not seen was the snook hitching a ride!

 

 

 

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

Snook Behavior

Snook, snook,snook, snook, and more snook. Yes, the bite goes on. Double figures days are no problem. Granted, these aren’t big fish, but on light fly gear they are one ripping blast. I’m using a my Scott STS 906/3 with a floating line, a 10 foot leader tapered to 20 pounds (snook cut through 15  in a hurry),  and a 3″, size 1#,  white Lefty’s Deceiver. Farnsworth sliders work well too.

Snook on a Fly

Snook on a Fly

I’ve been fishing this bite for well over a week, and its allowed me to learn a little about snook behavior.

At low tide, these snook hang to the deeper edges, along the outside of the sandbar. These fish are largely untouchable, except perhaps on live bait. So casting a fly to them is mostly a waste of time. Still I give it a try on occasion.

As the tide starts to rise, the snook  slowly slide up on the sandbar. Typically they cruise over the sand in small groups, traveling in random directions. These cruisers are fairly shy. They may track a fly for a short distance, but more likely they will totally ignore it. A few even zoom away from the fly as if it were poison. The only exception I’ve seen is a fly that lands right on a snook’s head. In a few rare cases that sparks an explosive surface strike.

Around the second hour of the flood, a small bit of current forms, flowing over the bar toward the grass beds that hug the inside edge. Now thing are about to change drastically. The snook follow this current over to the grass. Once there they begin to chow with a vengance, whacking any fly that comes their way.

The bottom line seems to be this: Snook are moody. When conditions aren’t in their favor snook can be wary, cautious, or even down right shy. It can be frustrating, believe me. Like many predators, however, snook are very sensitive to a moving tide. When the water flows, snook hear the dinner bell, and put on the feedbag big time.In half an hour’s time they can go from dormant to full-on aggressive.

Consequently, keeping a close eye on the tide chart is essential. And I’ve noticed that the days with stronger tides produce stronger bites. It also pays to follow the lanes of current as they change in size and location during the tide.

 

 

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Looking Downward, Wild Things | 2 Comments

Dave does it Again!

Well you’ve hear me speak of Dave before. He is one hell-of-an angler. When I came in last time, I saw Dave preparing to launch his boat. It was around four in the afternoon.We talked about the snook bite for awhile and Dave said he was going to hunt for a big one. I wished him luck and dragged my kayak out.

Dave Beal gets a big Snook

Dave Beal gets a big Snook

A couple hours later I got message from Dave. You guessed it. Dave does it again! Here he is with a 34 inch snook on a fly. Nice going Dave.

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Snook on a Fly

Snook on a fly? Well, the snook bite is still red hot. Last time out, I landed 14 of them. Terrific action. For the most part they aren’t huge, on average ranging from 22-26 inches. But on a six-weight fly rod they are a blast. And I can see bigger snook skirting the outer perimeter of the sandbar.

Snook on the sandbar

Snook on the Sandbar

At one point, I hooked a snook close to deep water. The fish ran erratically. A large wake suddenly appeared, pushing a wall of water. Up on the bar came a five foot bull shark, chasing my fish.  While releasing the drag, I leaped back on the Adios in a hurry. The commotion spooked the shark. It reversed and headed off. Close call.

 

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