Are Wading Birds and Fish on the Flat Connected? Yesterday morning held excellent conditions for “tailing” reds. Calm winds, clouds and low water. Naturally I wanted to take advantage of that and set off, launching by 6:30 AM. High hopes prevailed.
As I paddled down the flats, however, my hopes rapidly faded. I wasn’t seeing any fish moving around, nor was my approach spooking fish. And worst yet, there were no “tailing” reds either. Ummm. Bummer. And I noticed something else. There were very few wading birds.
Are wading birds and fish on the flat connected? I’m convinced there are. There are three birds that typically visit my flats – osprey, pelicans, ibis and blue heron. When I fish for “tailing” reds, however, the light is very low and so is the water. This combo is not great for diving birds such as pelicans or osprey, but it is perfect slow stalkers, wading birds like blue herons and ibis.
Allow me to digress for a moment. My friend Dave has long extolled the virtues of a stretch of flats he calls the “pinch”. Its a bit of a paddle for me, but he’s right – there are often more reds there. And….. there are always a ton more wading birds! At time so many ibis, at distance they look like a white bobbing blob! In fact I remember saying to Dave at one point. “Man, whats up will all these birds?”
Okay, time to start connecting the dots. Herons and ibis visit flats for only one reason – food. Obviously the blue heron wants to grab fish. And the ibis are feeding on smaller marine life. If food is scarce on a given flat, the birds will be too. And your odds of seeing a lot of reds goes down as well. Yeah no matter where you fish, everything revolves around the food chain.
The Flats are Firing Up: After a cool start to the winter, February temperatures are well above normal, and its causing Gulf temperatures to climb fast. Yesterday, on the flats the water was into seventies more typical of mid to late March!
While I didn’t see redfish in any numbers, spotted seatrout and especially snook are making an appearance. This is a good sign that next month will hold fine fishing. Got my fingers crossed. By the way I’m enjoying this Monic fly line more and more. Its performing well, and rarely tangles.
The 2018 Fly Fishing Show in Edison, New Jersey: After skipping the Fly Fishing Shows for a few years, back in January I flew up to New Jersey to catch the 2018 show in Edison. I’m pleased I did. It was a great to see people I hadn’t touched base with in some time.
One of those people was Bob Popovics. We talked about one of his latest creations -“The Beast”. As you may already know its a large bucktail streamer, that remains light enough to cast a long distance. Bob was kind enough to given me one. See it below. Great fly!
This year’s show had an increased emphasis on women in our sport. The “Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase” is a good example. The ‘Showcase” offered a number of women speakers covered a range of topics from Jen Ripple’s talk on the “The History of Women in Fly Fishing” to world record holder Heidi Nute’s talk on “How to Fight big Tarpon”.
Women have long been involved, but hopefully their presence can be increased. It would be great to see more women discovered the wide and wonderful world of fly-fishing. Yes they are already making a great contribution, and future events like this can make that contribution grow. The sky is the limit. Here’s a few pictures of show booths aimed at women in fly-fishing.
The Red Tide Lingers: Down here we just had 10 days of below normal temperatures coupled with serious high winds. Several mornings were in the 30’s and one dipped to freezing. Now that may not sound like much to you folks in the rest of the country, but believe that’s cold for the subtropics. And yes, there was the red tide deal too.
Well, thankfully air and water temperatures have returned to normal. The wind has abated and good morning tides have arrived. So I figured “tailing” reds might be out there waiting for me. That got me on the water in the dark this morning, paddling out into a thick fog.
The Red Tide Lingers
Water and wind levels were excellent for “tailers”, and the presence of fog assured a high dawn, allowing reds more time to safely work the shallows. I was psyched. Yet as soon as I poled the flat, I knew there was trouble. I didn’t see or spook a single fish of any kind. Not one! And there were no wading birds working the water either. The place was dead, real dead.
Within twenty minutes I felt a scratchy sensation in my throat. The message came through loud and clear. The damn red tide lingers!
The Great Horned Owls are Horny: For a week now, right at dusk, out my backdoor owls have been calling. Their voices are strong, carrying long distances across the growing darkness. These were not barred owls. Their voice I know well. Yet until last evening, I had failed to learn what kind of owl it was.
Yesterday, on the edge of night I took a walk. The voices were much closer this time. Four or five owls called back and forth to each other endlessly. It was amazing to hear their chorus. Stopping, I listened trying to track one down. It took me ten minutes in the failing light to zero in, but eventually I spied the owl in a treetop.
The Great Horned Owls are Horny
It was a Great Horned Owl. No question, you could see its horns clearly against the sky. With only my cell phone at hand, unfortunately the resulting picture (above) isn’t great. Still if you look at the top of the tree, immediately right of center, you’ll see the horns too. Truth is they are not horns or even ears, just tufts of feathers, but they are a distinctive feature of this powerful predator. After a time it tired of my presence and left into the darkness on a five foot wingspan.
With so many Great Horned Owls conversing every night, it must be breeding season. Yes, in my neighborhood, the Great Horned Owls are horny.