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

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!




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.

Update  Well I’ve been using this item for over a month now, and I can’t recommend it to you. A few days ago, I removed the clamp from my tackle bag and unlocked them. Immediate half the jaw fell off. Ouch! Apparently the steel used can’t withstand the pressure generated by the long handles. The jaw snapped off cleanly. Too bad. This could have been a handy device. Thankfully Bears Den Fly Shop gave me a refund.

Long Range Clamp 20150908_0564



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