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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Tip when using Korkers with the Interchangeable Sole System

Tip when using Korkers with the Interchangeable Sole System: For over a year I’ve been using Korker wading boots with the interchangeable sole system. Its a great idea. And I appreciate the thought that went into designing these boots. Great innovation. I have a tip for you, however, especially if you wade through heavy mud.

A week ago, I climbed out of my Adios and trekked down a long flat. I was in an area that has some soft bottom, and my weight caused me to sink in a bit. Nothing unusual really. When I got back to the kayak, however, I discovered that my left boot was minus it’s sole. (Vibram rubber) Apparently the suction of the mud had pulled it free without my noticing it. And then it fell totally off. I was terribly surprised, believe me.

Korker Sole Retainer

As luck would have it, I had an extra sole back at the house. A couple mornings later, that sole pulled loose too, although I caught it in time. In both cases it was my left boot, so the problem likely lies with that shoe rather than the sole. But I’ve decided to tie the sole off just in case. And if you wade in mucky places, you might consider this trick too.

Please note that I’m using a very thin string. Why? Years back I read “Fishless Days and Angling Nights” by Sparse Grey Hackle. Great read that. In the book, Sparse Grey Hackle relayed a memorable and scary story about wading along an alder thick stream bank. At one point his wading boot, which had a studded sandal attached, snagged a submerged root. It was too deep for him reach down and free the boot. And the root proved too strong for him to break off. He was trapped, unable to move. I’ll let you read the book and find out how he got free. But this is why I strongly recommend a thin string, one you could easily break off if need be.




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On the Flats Presentation is King

On the Flats Presentation is King: Yesterday morning, it was proven to me once again – on the flats presentation is king, fly pattern is queen. No matter how big the “killer” reputation of your fly; no matter how much faith you have in it; no matter how well it was tied; unless you present it properly it is likely to fail. To be effective on the flats, the fly must land softly, and be right on the money. And even then the fly has to move in a way that sparks the fish to eat.

Dawn on the Flats

Following a bright warm day, Gulf water temperatures rose slightly. So when my friend Dave suggested a dawn raid for “tailing” reds I jumped at the chance. We had an early morning -.30 ebbing tide, and dead calm winds. Perfect conditions. In the photo above you see the sandbar coming up in the foreground. Between the bar and the shore are extensive  flats with turtle grass. With luck, that’s where our “tailers” would be.

Dave waded north and I went south. The action lasted roughly 40 minutes. But in that brief window of time, we both caught a red. My first shot at a “tailer” didn’t go well. Unknown to me, there was a red lying hidden beneath the surface between me and my target. As the fly line fell to the water the unseen red spooked, causing my “tailer” to zoom off too. Damn. Minutes later, however, I got another opportunity. Three “tailing” reds were clustered together, about 150 feet away. Wading carefully into range, I delivered a cast, but as the fly was about to land, the trio moved slightly to my right. They never saw the fly. My next attempt was more of the same frustration – the fish moved right again. On third cast I decided to drop the fly just ahead of the them. Bingo, they slid over and found the fly right off. Wham. That presentation worked!

Dave caught this red outside the bar

Later that day, Dave caught a red outside the bar on rising water. See it above. Nicely spotted red, it sported the blue rimmed tail so common in the colder months. (earlier post on this subject) This coloration is, best I know, caused by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in the food chain. Also note the light, chrome like, sides on this red. It indicates it has been recently living over sand bottoms, rather than in the darker water of the backcountry.

The Blue Tail so common in Winter







Posted in Fly Fishing in Salt Water, Tailing Redfish | 2 Comments

Water Temperature Fluctuations on the Flat

Water Temperature Fluctuations on the Flat: We just had four mornings in a row  in the low to mid forties. Folks, that’s chilly for southwest Florida. Obviously those nippy dawns also had an effect on water temperature. Prior the shallow waters of the Gulf were 77 degrees, two days later they dropped to 73, a day or two later they dipped to 61 degrees. It is amazing how quickly that happened. Along the deep New England coast, water temperature never change that rapidly, never.

Yesterday morning, I had a decent tide for “tailing” reds, and low winds too boot. Nice combo, although the air temperature was hovering around 47 degrees.  Got to the ramp at 6:30 AM, and headed out with high hopes. Poling my Diablo Adios northward, I went to the portion of the flat I know best. Not a single tail! Ouch.  Disappointing. Then I turned southward and slowly poled two miles, searching for signs of redfish. Once again –  zilch.

I began to notice something else as well. There were no mullet showing on the surface? That was way strange. And I hadn’t seen a single catfish or snook either? Things were extremely quiet. Deader then a door nail. Then it hit me. The sudden drop in water temperature had temporarily shut off the fishery.

Later my suspicions were confirmed. I finally did find a few reds. But they were all sitting in the sun over dark mud bottoms close to shore trying to warm up. Come to think about it, I was feeling the cold myself.


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Dave’s Super Moon Redfish

Dave’s Super Moon Redfish: We just went through a waxing Super Moon. First on Friday with a -.1 low tide, followed by a  -.30 low tide on Saturday morning, followed on Sunday morning with a a -.50 low tide , and then a -.6 low tide today. Wow that’s some skinny water!

Dave’s Super Moon Redfish

What on earth is a Super Moon? The moon’s orbit is elliptical, egg shaped. It ranges from a maximum distance to the earth of 251, 990 miles to a minimum  of 225,300. The maximum distance is called the moon’s Apogee, and the minimum is called the Perigee. When the moon is in Apogee, its impact on the tide is weakest. Makes sense right? On the other hand, when the moon is in Perigee, it pulls harder on the ocean, raising and lowing the water to a greater degree. And if the Perigee moon is also full, look out! Then we have a Super Moon, one that permits the moon to have it’s most powerful effect on the tides.

Sunday morning I caught a predawn boat ride with my friend Dave. We headed out to the flats hoping to find “tailing” reds. Terrific morning, low wind, Super Moon hanging on the horizon, a stellar start to the day. You wished you could put everything on “hold”, and fished on and on. But unfortunately”tailing” reds were scarce to nonexistent that morning. Oh well that’s life, but later on the incoming Dave nailed a nice red on a crab fly.  Here’s Dave’s Super Moon Redfish! And check out that blue-tipped tail.


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