No “Tails” Today

11/27/2016  Hit the water before dawn this morning. We had a good low tide enhanced by a night of north winds. Had my fingers crossed I find a few “tailing ” reds, head down chewing on crabs in the turtle grass. But luck wasn’t with me. No “tails” today.

no-tails-today_2016

No “Tails” Today

Finding “tailing” reds isn’t easy in my home waters of Charlotte Harbor. Damn,  every thing has to be just right.  You need low light, low water, low winds,  and no boat traffic.

That’s a tall order, believe me. Akin to hitting the trifecta. And even when all is well with the universe, there is no guarantee the reds will “tail”. And even when they do “tail” they may be spooky as hell, ignore your fly and flat out refuse to bite. Crazy.

All you can do is put your time in and hope for the best. Persevere. Grit your teeth and push onward.

Why bother? Frankly this “tailing” red business is far and away the most challenging and interesting fly game down here. If you get “tails” to shoot at, you’ll also need eagle eyes, be able to sneak up like a commando, cast accurately, have a good fly, and use the right retrieve. Yeah there is a lot to it.  But when the planets aligne amigo, wow! The “tail” slips out of sight, the red glides over, grabs the fly, feels the steel, and then rips off across the flats like a rocket, rod bent, reel screaming. Suddenly you’re king for the day!

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More about the Neon Crab fly

Awhile back I began exploring the potential of brightly colored crab flies. Well its time to talk more more about them -more about the Neon Crab fly.

More about the Neon Crab Fly

More about the Neon Crab Fly

Back in January of this year, I caught the above red.  If you look closely you’ll see a crab fly stuck in its craw. Pink tail, yellow and hot orange rubber legs. Yeah its a Neon Crab fly.

Now this post is not an attempt to get you to chuck your “match the hatch” crab flies. The ones in tan, olive and green. They work after all. But I am saying you should carry brightly colored crab flies as well, especially where the water isn’t perfectly clear. The very first thing an effective fly has to do is to be seen, right! And if fish can’t find it you’re dead in the water, right? Okay, enough said. Recognize too, that bright colors can trigger an aggressive strike from fish that are otherwise reluctant to bite.

More about the Neon Crab Fly

More about the Neon Crab Fly

Lets take a quick look at tying one of these Neon Crab flies. I tie them in both size 2# and 4# on Mustad Big Game C70SD hooks. Thread color isn’t terrible important, but I tend toward tan. Since I typically fish them in very shallow water, I generally use only bead-chain eyes. But if you fish deeper, lead-eyes are appropriate.

Step one

Step one

The tail in this particular example is pink craft fur. Its a bit long and I will trim later. Twice the hook shank is all you really need. Note that the bead-chain eyes are tied in below the hook. More on this in a moment.

Step 2

Step Two

At this point I’ve tied in glass eyes, and super glued them in place. I’ve also tied in some brown Woolly Chenille to the underside of the hook. You could substitute a dubbing loop and “dub” the body, if you prefer.

Step Three

Step Three

After winding  the chenille forward and lashing it down, I tied in two sets of rubber legs just forward of the bead-chain eyes. Placed here, during the retrieve they tend to splay outward and give you plenty of action. Plus, when the legs break off after a fish or two, you can sit down at the vise and easily replace them. Next, I added a 20 pound mono weed guard.

So why did I tie the bead-chain and chenille on the bottom of the hook? Simply this: For the weed guard to work properly, the hook must ride point down. The final step is to add a few bars to the tail with a laundry marker. Now you’re done!

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Dave Beall is an Extraordinary Angler

If you fish long enough in an area, you’ll likely come across a special person, someone who always seems to find and catch fish regardless of the situation. On my home waters, Dave is that special person, no question about it. Dave Beall is an extraordinary angler.

Dave is an Extraordinary Angler

Dave Beall is an Extraordinary Angler

Despite heavy winds, small craft warnings and a dose of red tide, yesterday Dave landed 9 redfish on a fly. Folks that’s simply unheard of in this neck of the woods, even in good conditions. To do it under poor conditions, however, is flat out amazing. No wonder people call him “The Fish Whisperer”.

Dave is an Extraordinary Angler

Dave Beall is an Extraordinary Angler

As luck would have it, I met Dave early on after moving to Florida. And it didn’t take long for me to see he was a highly-skilled fly fisherman. Yeah, I was impressed and eventually wrote a story centered on Dave for the 2016, April/ March issue of American Angler.

Dave Beall is an Extraordinary Angler

Dave Beall is an Extraordinary Angler

Now get this: Dave is willing to share his knowledge. How cool is that? No that doesn’t mean I’ll rise to his level, but it does ensure I’ll improve. And there is nothing wrong with that!

Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water | 2 Comments

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor? I was back on the water this morning and noticed a large number of dead fish floating in the tide, including nice reds. Not good. Not good at all. It sure looked like Red Tide. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

 

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide is a naturally occurring toxic algae bloom, noted as far back as the Spanish Explorers. But it can also be a sign of coastal eutrophication  What is that? The term comes from the Greek meaning “highly-enriched”. In short polluted, typically with excess nitrogen and phosphorus,which greatly accelerate algae growth. They also cause hypoxia – low dissolved oxygen.  Shallow bodies of water such Charlotte Harbors are particularly prone, especially when heavily developed. They receive nutrients off the land from both point and non-point source runoff.

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

Red Tide in Charlotte Harbor?

The dirty water we had to swallow all summer from Lake Okeechobee is not helping things one little bit. And it could even be the source of most of the problem. That water is loaded with agricultural pollutants, and we had a huge amount of that crap coming down the Chattahoochee River. It’s an enormous environmental problem without easy solution.

Is it safe to eat fish in a red tide bloom? Scientist tells us it is okay, but not to eat shellfish or a dead fish or distressed fish. And one should not touch dead or distressed fish, swim in a red tide area, or breath the air. In short steer clear.

Sargassum

Sargassum

I also have notice a marked increase in sargassum. It is piling up big time. Is there a connection? Frankly I don’t know. Might be just a coincidence. But it could be that the same currents and tides that brought the sargassum into the Harbor also carried the red tide algae.

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