Pine Island Fly Fishing Club swap meet

A few days ago, my friend Dave and I went to the Pine Island Fly Fishing Club swap meet. The club is relatively new and fast growing. I don’t believe they have a website, but you can get news about club “doings” over at Pine Island Angler.com 

Monthly meetings are held in the Matlacha Community Center. Typically they have a speaker; this month, however, they opted for a swap meet instead. Fine by me. Swap meets are great. The club has no membership fee; you simply sign up. But they do ask a 3 dollar donation at the door, to cover the cost of renting the room. Plenty fair.

Pine Island Fly Fishing Club swap meet

Pine Island Fly Fishing Club swap meet

There were roughly a dozen tables full of goods, ranging from fly tying materials to a good selection of rods and reels. Fairly quickly I saw something that caught my eye. An Orvis T3, 8wt, 9-foot, 2-piece fly rod. Complete with tube and sock, the rod was in fine shape and clearly had seen little use. After giving it a wiggle, I decided to buy it as a backup for my Scott S3S 8wt. How much did the mighty T3 set me back? The price was 75 dollars. A good deal.

Orvis T3 8wt Fly Rod

Orvis T3 8wt Fly Rod

The Orvis T3 debuted back in 2001, touting high-modulus carbon fibers with ”thermoplastic-enriched thermoset resins and nanoceramic binders”. These resins and binders were exactly aligned with the graphite matrix in an effort to make a strong rod with a light feel in the hand.

The blank is deep blue. The reel seat is quite attractive. I believe it was made exclusively for Orvis by REC. Nice touch. The guides are titanium carbide, with blue wraps. The listed weight is 4 5/8 ounces. And this particular rod is a “Mid-Flex”.

I used it the other day. Its heavier in the hand than the Scott S3S. And the Orvis is stiffer, and not as smooth as the Scott. Still, after adjusting my casting stroke I found it to be a decent rod. Lays out a long line, and it is very accurate. Happy to own it!

 

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Our Beautiful World

Our beautiful world

Our beautiful world

Its good, at times, to just to lean back and enjoy our beautiful world. Frankly we can get so wound up in our daily lives that we forget what our planet has to offer. We worry about this; we worry about that. We stress; we strain. We lose sight of what life can be. Don’t let it happen to you. Stop, take a deep breath, clear your head, and look around you. Earth is a stunning place.

I took this picture a few months back on my home waters. I hope it gives you as much peace as it gives me.

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Patience on the Flats

I’ll still trying to get used to how different fishing the flats is from fishing the Northeast coast. Perhaps the single biggest difference is patience. Yes, you need patience on the flats. Along the beaches of New England its a game of keeping the fly wet. You’re constantly sticking and moving, sticking and moving. But down here its a game of waiting for opportunities. Holding your fire, until you see the whites of their eyes.

Dave's 45 minute redfish

Dave’s 45 minute redfish

Yesterday, that point was driven home again. My friend Dave send me an email in which he described the latest in his never ending effort to catch redfish. The fishing was slow so Dave positioned himself in a spot on the flats where he felt redfish were apt to show.  And then he waited, waited, and waited. Forty-five minutes later a 32″ red appeared. Dave got him. Amazing! Patience on the flats.

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Fly Fishing for Tailing Redfish

Fly fishing for tailing reds in Charlotte Harbor is challenge business. Real challenging. As tough a fishery as I have ever seen. First off the reds only tail under perfect conditions. Low water, low light, and low wind. Even then, a single boat buzzing by will spoil things.

Red Tailing in the GRass

Red Tailing in the Grass

OK, lets assume all of it comes together, and bingo, up pops a tail. Now you have to seek up like Tonto, or risk spooking the fish. Once you get in range, you have to make a super accurate cast, and hope the reds don’t spot the fly line in the air. If they do; they’re gone. The fly should land quietly. And even after all that you’ll need a dash of luck. A redfish with its head down in the turtle grass is preoccupied. So preoccupied in fact it may not see your fly gliding by. Believe me it happens fairly often.

Fly for Tailing Reds

Fly for Tailing Reds

Just tied this fly for “tailers”. Hopefully I’ll test it next week. It rides a size 4# Mustad C70SD. In the future I may go to a lighter-weight hook. The tail is orange Craft Fur Select. Two small, red, EP Crab Eyes come next. The body is tan, CCT Body Fur. Up front the fly has mono weed guards, (an absolute  requirement) and Grizzly Flutter Legs. Colored markers were used on the tail and body. looks like a winner, but  the reds have to vote!

Posted in Flies and Fly Tying, Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Looking Downward, Tailing Redfish | Leave a comment

The CFFA Banquet and Expo

The CFFA Banquet and Expo is drawing near. Don’t know the CFFA? Its the Connecticut Fly Fisherman’s Association , the best fly fishing club in the Northeast. In fact I believe that none other than Lefty Kreh said it was likely the best fly fishing club in the country. Get you some of that.

This is the CFFA’s 46th annual event, and takes place on February 6th in South Windsor, Connecticut. The Expo runs from 9AM -3PM. There will be lectures (I’ll do one), presentations, vendors from local fly shops, and fly tying. Admission is $3:00, children under 16 are free.Parking is free.

The banquet begins at 6PM with cocktails, followed by dinner at 7PM. And I’m very honored to be the banquet’s guest speaker. Naturally you can expect a ton of great raffle items and awards. It will be a wonderful time. See you there!

For more information contact Kurt Jagielow at 203-314-5871

 

 

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Dave’s 31 inch Red!

Well, Dave got a real nice one, a 31 inch redfish on a fly. That’s a beaut for our flats, I swear. Here reds average 22-26 inches, with a few going 27-28 inches. So any red over that is a true bonus. I’ll guess Dave’s fish is eleven pounds plus.

Dave's 31 inch Red on afly.

Dave’s 31 inch Red on a Fly.

Charlotte Harbor is mainly a nursery area for juvenile reds. Bigger spawning reds do show up, however, typically arriving in August and staying around well into October, depending on the severity of fall cold fronts. But no one told this fish. Perhaps our unseasonable warmth has convinced him to hang around.

By the way Dave sight-fished up a big fat sheepshead. Yes, on a fly. That doesn’t happen very often either.

Sheepshead on a fly

Sheepshead on a fly

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Back on the Water

Wind wind go away! High winds and small craft warnings have kept me off the water for  nearly a week. Damn. Stuck in the house. Well today the wind was scheduled to drop a bit, so last night I put the Adios on top of the car ready to go.

Left the ramp before 8:00AM. Unfortunately as soon as the sun poked up a bit, the winds picked up again. Can’t seem to win. I poled the flats for a few hours riding the ebb tide down. There were no signs of life. Zero. The flats were barren. Since I hadn’t been out in awhile, however, I opted to stay for the flood.

Spotted Seatrout

Today’s Spotted Seatrout

Around noon, when the tide flipped, the wind did too. It lowered to an acceptable level. Thank God. Actually conditions were pretty good, and soon the flats filled with life. Yes, the usual critters showed up: rays, catfish, mullet, bonnethead sharks, pompano,  reds, and spotted seatrout, although no snook. After a long dry spell, I finally started hooking up. How sweet it was to put a bend in the rod.

 

 

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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