The Flats are Firing Up

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!

February Snook

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.

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The 2018 Fly Fishing Show in Edison, New Jersey

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!

The Beast

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.

 

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The Red Tide Lingers

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!

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The Great Horned Owls are Horny

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.

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A Red Tide for Christmas

A Red Tide for Christmas:  A couple days back, I got out early once again to take advantage of a decent morning tide. Right off it became apparent, however, all wasn’t well on the flats. The water was murky for one thing. That was odd. But more concerning was the floating and submerge corpses. Dead mullet dotted my route – one here and one there. Oh shit, red tide!

Roughly a year ago, red tide paid us a visit here in Charlotte Harbor. Last time the body count was much higher. Still no one wants red tide at their doorstep regardless of how light the concentration.

For weeks now, red tide has been residing along Sanibel Island’s beaches. Lotsa dead fish washing up on shore to rot in the sun. Bad news for the tourists. Hell, bad news for residents too. Now its seems the strong tides of last week, coupled with a shift in the wind, have pushed the red tide northward into Charlotte Harbor. Yikes red tide for Christmas.

Florida Fish and Wildlife monitors red tide and offers a map of its location and intensity.  Caused by the the microscopic dinoflagellate,  Karenia brevis, red tide is typically little more than a nuisance to beach goers, causing irritated eyes, scratchy throats, and sinus problems. Red tide’s effect on fish, however, is deadly serious. It can kill them in large numbers, especially mullet, affect birds, and even kill manatees. Yes, it also can accumulate in shellfish, where it develops a toxin (brevetoxin) that is possibly fatal to humans. By the way cooking doesn’t remove these toxins from either fish or shellfish.

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