Fog and Wind on the Flats

Fog on the Flats

Fog and Wind on the Flats

A few mornings back, there was both fog and wind on the flats. Unusual. The fog eliminated any chance of sight-fishing, at least in the usual sense. But reds tail better in a fog, so there is a trade off. Although the wind was no help in that department.

This was advection fog, arriving on a south-southeast breeze. A wind from this direction brought the necessary warmth and moisture to create the situation in the first place. But that south-southeast wind did something else that took me by surprise.

A north wind in Charlotte Harbor speeds up an ebbing tide, and can produce extremely shallow conditions. This is a common occurrence during the winter months. And greatly increases the likelihood of boaters running aground. But I now know that a strong south wind can do the reverse, stalling an ebbing tide in its tracks. On the morning in question the tide never dropped very far. And that reduced my chances at finding “tailing” reds. Oh well.

 

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Our Planet is an Amazing Place

Dawn on the North Atlantic

Dawn on the North Atlantic

Love this world, my friend.  Our planet is an amazing place, filled day and night with both beauty and mystery. Its also the only home we have. Cherish it, always.

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7 Pound Redfish on a 6-Weight Fly Rod

Well, the bite continues. Sunday held a high tide around 10:30AM, and it promised to ebb until almost 5PM. That meant a long day of moving water. Good news. On the other hand, the wind was 10-15 southeast. An odd wind for this time of year. But at least it was keeping things warm.

By 11:30 AM I was working the shoreline. Poling the Adios along the mangroves, from spot to spot, I found plenty of reds and snook. And they were in an aggressive mood. No big fish, mind you. But it made for steady action into early afternoon.

7 pound Red on a 6-weight

7 pound Red on a 6-weight

As the ebb progressed, eventually the sandbar started coming up. I poled the Adios there and staked out on the bar. Over the grass beds inside the bar, the water was just knee deep, ripe for “tailing” reds. The only problem was the southeast breeze. Reds around here only “tail” in calm conditions.

I kept my fingers crossed the breeze would drop as the sun lowered into the west. And thankfully it did. Now conditions were perfect. When the first “tail” popped up, I got buck fever and rushed my cast. Welcome to failure. Damn. Then another “tail” appeared a several yards away. I waded into position and made a better cast. Wham. This time I connected. Right off, I could tell it was a fair size red by the way he steamed across the flats, stripping line off the reel.

After two more good runs, I started backing him up towards the Adios, which was sitting in shin deep water about 50 feet away. Slowly the red followed along, but in a clever effort to bust me off, he suddenly shot forward, around my stakeout pole, and then went back under the kayak. Man. With the rod held high, I circled the Adios on the run; believe me. After that trick, he gave up. It was a fine angling adventure, a 7 pound redfish on a 6-weight fly rod.

Released Redfish

Released Redfish

 

 

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

Why do Redfish have Blue Tails?

Yesterday afternoon, I poled down the flat, once again seeking “tailing” reds. Unlike last winter, there is plenty of driftweed around this year. Its stacking up pretty thick on the flat, and that is a excellent sign. Driftweed carries food with it, mainly crabs. And that food is needed. Because at this time of year the main meal – baitfish- are beginning to leave.

Eventually I stop poling, scanning an area where I had seen reds the day before. Bingo. On cue, a redfish stuck up its tail. Man, you got to love it. And this fish was only 25 feet away. Silently exiting the Adios, I reached for my six-weight fly rod, trying not to make a sound. By now the tail had slipped below the water, but I could see a disturbance marking the fish’s location. Dropping the fly nearby, I began a slow retrieve. No response. The second cast, however, brought an instant strike. This red was aggressive. Fish on.

20141113_Blue tail Red_0136It was a small red, of about 18 inches – still a fun fish on a six-weight fly rod. Upon landing the fish, I noticed its blue tail. Wow, it was bright.

Why do redfish have blue tails? I’m not a sure. You don’t see it all the time; that I know. And it seems more prevalent during the cooler months. Some say it has to do with the fish’s diet; that makes sense. And in particularly it is due to a certain type of algae in the water. The forage feeds on the algae, absorbing its color. Then the reds eat the forage. And, in turn, the color bio-accumulates in the red, showing up in the extreme end of the tail. Whatever the reason, its sure adds a nice touch.

 

 

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

Tailing Reds Can be Down-right Fussy

Sometimes “tailing” reds are aggressive; sometimes they are ultra spooky; and sometimes “tailing” reds are down-right fussy. You never know which type you’ll run it.

Yesterday I got on the flat in the morning, ready to find “tailers” during the last of the ebb. Net result? Zero. Nada. Zip. I had waited around for hours without a single tail. Damn. Very disappointing.

As the flood started, I headed back home, traveling along the inside of the sandbar, hoping to see a tail. About a half mile down the flat, I spied  one. There was a redfish working the grassy edge of the bar. Bingo. I stopped, got out of the kayak and made a cast.  But something unexpected happened. My cast caused an explosion behind me.

I whirled around in time to see a fish zoom off.  Apparently my back cast had spooked a big red sitting right behind me. Worse yet, the red I had been aiming at was now gone too. Oh well. But rather than split, I decided to hang out for a minute, to see if the big fish would return.

Eight Pound Redfish

Eight Pound Redfish

A bit later I spotted a small swirl, and a hint of a tail. So I dropped the fly nearby. Strip, strip – bump? Strip, strip-bump? Something was lightly touching the fly without really taking it. Typically that means a small needlefish is in pursuit. On the next strip, however, I saw the real culprit. It was a big red.

He was slowly following the fly, nipping at it. Crazy. And in a second he would be close enough to see me too. So I stopped the retrieve. He swam forward, ate the fly, and turned to the left, setting the hook. Great fight. Good runs. The boga reported eight pounds. Yes sir, “tailing” reds can be damn fussy.

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“Tailing” Redfish

Two days back we had a morning low tide. Perfect for finding a tailing red. But we also had a cold front coming. And that would kill the fishing for sure. So I decided to get out early in the hopes of finding fish before the front arrived.

Tailing Red

Tailing Red

I left the ramp before 7AM, paddled out to the Harbor, and then poled down the flats searching for tails. It was a good long way before I found any. Three “tails” to be exact. At that point the tide was in its final hours, and I could see the front bearing down from the northwest.

I carefully climbed off the board and waded slowly toward the nearest tail. Luckily for me that red didn’t hear me coming, and didn’t spook when I cast to him. Then my luck kicked up another notch. This red was in an aggressive mood.  Instantly he grabbed the fly – a small orange crab creation. Bang, the fish turned, and shot across the knee deep flat. Good fight. Not a huge fish, but it felt super to get a “tailing” redfish before the front arrived.

 Orange Crab Fly


Orange Crab Fly

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The Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

This weekend, a lady friend of mine was headed to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. I went along for the ride. Larger crafts interested her, things from fifty feet and up. So we spent the day touring the bigger boats.

Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

I love things you row, paddle or pole. So these fabulous fiberglass hulls were well out of my league. No question. Ranging from used vessels at a mere $750,000 to new ones topping the 4 million mark, the mega yachts were impressive. Interiors were spacious, comfortable, and beautifully designed.  The workmanship, furniture and fittings were all top notch too. One boat had 8 toilets for Pete’s sake. Their helms hold ever technological gizmo know to the planet. Even the engine rooms were neat as a pin, some boasting over 3000 horsepower.

A lot of though has gone into these floating palaces. Believe me. Yes, the rich and famous demand, and can afford, first class. Nothing déclassé or bush league for these noble folks. And the boat manufacturers know exactly how to cater to them. Everywhere beautiful young women in short, tight, cocktail dresses, smiled you aboard. It felt like you were on a TV game show. King for a day.

No, I’m not thinking of trading in my kayak. Hell, what good would it do me? But I sure would love to attend the parties these yachts host. From the Riviera and Amalfi Coast, to Tahiti and French Polynesia, I know those shindigs would blow your mind!

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The Bite is Back

The fishing in my backyard has been on hold for some time now. For one thing, the Peace River at the head of Charlotte Harbor released a huge slug of stained water, starting in early October. It continued from weeks, turning the flats into barley soup. All of it courtesy of late season rains.

Well, that ugly mess is finally out of here. The flats are gin clear again. The weather is fantastic. There is a ton of bait on the bars. And the bite is back!

Pete's Redfish

Pete’s Redfish

In the photo, my friend Pete is holding a mighty fine redfish. We caught three reds each that day. Goooood fishing. Pete’s was the largest. The day prior, I had three reds, trout, and a nice pompano. Things are looking up.

 

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Along the Water’s Edge: My Latest Book, Part Two

In the previous post I gave you an overview of my latest book’s content. If you missed it jump back a post. Now let’s take a look inside to give you a visual feel for Along the Water’s Edge. And where better to start than on the title page?

Title Page

Title Page

Self-publishing isn’t easy, but it does allow the author complete control over the outcome. So the author gets to take credit for the whole shooting match, including all the mistakes. I wrote and formatted the text, did the page layouts, and designed the dust jacket. It was a learning process; believe me. Had to stretch a little to get it all done. But I’m pleased with the results.

To dress things up, I decided to do some B&W artwork. They are small, simple illustrations that, I feel, give the book some character.  As you see in the photo above, there is one the title page. And there are also drawings at each chapter heading.

along the waters edge land of milk Hope you like what you see. And I hope you might be interested in adding a copy to your personal library. The book is a short-run of 400 copies, and available through this site for $29.95, plus $3.50 postage (media mail rate). Just drop me an email to e.mitchell6@yahoo.com  Book are signed and inscribed to you upon request. You can also purchase it from Sandman Books  941-505-1624 or Copperfish Books 941-205-2560.

(ISBN 978-0-692-27077-6)

 

 

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Along the Water’s Edge: My latest book

127168 Dust Jacket Layout 9_12.pdf [ 1 ], page 1 @ PreflightFor several few years I have been kicking around the idea of self-publishing a book. Well I finally got it done. It is a 6×9 hardbound book of approximately 200 pages, entitled Along the Water’s Edge. 

In this post I’ll give you a description of the text. In the next post, we’ll take a look inside.

Along the Water’s Edge offers the reader a variety of things, all brought together by fly-fishing. The first section of the book, affords  a look into the lives of people who held a special passion for the sport. They include: Jack Gartside- fly tyer extraordinaire; legendary baseball player Ted Williams; Nelson Bryant – whose outdoor column ran for decades in the New York Times; Harold Gibbs -considered by many to be the father of striped bass on a fly; Homer Rhode Jr.- the mysterious loner who carved a special path in the earliest day of southern saltwater fly fishing; and Frank Woolner – the founder of Saltwater Sportsman.

I spent decades observing, and fly-fishing the New England coast. In the middle section of the book, I share that hard-earned knowledge with you. It is a treasure trove for the coastal fly rodder. It offers, for instance, the secrets behind catching big striped bass from the beach. You’ll heard how wind direction influences fishing, season by season. You’ll gain valuable insights into, and angling methods for two of the most sought after game fish – Atlantic bonito, and false albacore. Through my eyes, you’ll witness the rich predator-prey relation between sand eels and striped bass. While discovering how to put that connection to good use. From the rocky coast of Rhode Island, you”ll learn about bay anchovies; and how their presence fuels fall fishing. And the book gives an in-depth look at retrieve styles and speeds. and how to employ them in a wide variety of conditions.

In the last section of Along the Water’s Edge, there is a series of fly-fishing short stories. Most are humorous. Others serious. All of them drawn on my personal angling experiences, and my love of the great outdoors.

The book is a short run of only 400 copies. It is available through this site for $29.95, plus 3.50 postage (media mail rate). Just drop me an email to e.mitchell6@yahoo.com  Book are signed and inscribed to you upon request. You can also buy it from Sandman Books  941-505-1624 or Copperfish Books 941-205-2560.

(ISBN 978-0-692-27077-6)

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