By MIKE HODGE
RUSKIN, Fla. — They came, they saw, they won a tournament and they made history. All in one day.
Bradenton-area resident Chris Hargiss and his teammate, Mani Pailer, dominated the 2014 Salty Fly with a back-to-basics approach. Others poled their way into position and threw from the bow with long presentations and sexy patterns. However, Hargiss caught his fish on foot with the simplest of flies — the Bendback.
That traditional saltwater standby led to a three-fish total of 83.25 inches, a Salty Fly record, just ahead of second-place Kapers Murph (80.1) and third-place Leigh West and Jay Wright, who amassed 77 inches.
The tournament format called for two redfish and a trout — total inches, photo release, fly only. Hargiss, a Palm Harbor native, won $1,500, which he split with Pailer.
The two fish together often, so Saturday they decided to work close to their home waters in Sarasota. Efficient and effective, they hustled back to tournament headquarters more than an hour before the deadline, which meant a long wait before the official results were announced.
“It was one of those days where everything lined up perfectly,” Hargiss said. “It shows that if you put in enough time, you’ll catch the fish you’ve been looking for. It was just a good day of fishing.”
All of the winning quarry were sight fished, a style of angling Hargiss honed while owning a kayak for several years before buying a Hell’s Bay skiff several months ago.
“(A kayak) makes you dial in on fish,” Hargiss said. “You don’t want to spend your whole day paddling and expending energy to find fish. You learn to pick your tides, the weather and the time of year for different flats. It makes you hone in on the finer points.”
Hargiss, 27, wasn’t the only angler celebrating Saturday evening. Murph was the first solo angler in Salty Fly history to place, and West and Wright were the first team to pull off multiple top-three finishes. The pair took third in 2012.
|7||Fly4Fishing||Hargiss, Chris||Pailer, Manfred||83.250|
|98||Team Solo||Murph, Kapers||80.100|
|19||Osmotic Pressure||West, Leigh||Wright, Jay||77.000|
|43||RCI Optics||Lau, Honson||Le, Willy||73.500|
|21||*Tailing Loop||Elkins, Bryan||Elkins, Susan||72.750|
|91||*Cirrhosis of the River||Kline, Eddie||Phillip, Tim||71.750|
|15||Hung Over Sleeping||Chouinard, Dave||Hane, Colby||68.000|
|75||Raw||Dawson, Brian||Shapiro, Aaron||67.250|
|17||Green Flash||Brue, Jeff||Forde, Doug||63.000|
|18||Hurrah||Dean, Marcus||McClendon, Fred||60.250|
|84||CaptJared.com||Simonetti, Jared||Costello, Anthony||60.250|
|62||Flatz Slobz||Angelo, Nick||Chamberlin, Bryon||58.500|
|41||Wang||Wilson, John||Tylisz, Tom||57.500|
|31||Redzone||Rylard, Alan||Vidal, Pepi||49.000|
|55||Carbon Islamorada||Parker, Steven||Bandlow, Kelly||47.160|
|70||Don’t Hate||Maher, Tommy||Riordan, Jay||47.000|
|24||Hells Bay Boatworks||Dierlam, Chris||Hall, Brian||44.500|
|36||Blackbeard||Ravelo, Chris||Wior, Mike||42.750|
|99||The Smithereens||Smith, Kevin||Smith, Ron||42.000|
|37||Good Old Biggins||Clarkson, Jon||Rutledge, James||41.000|
|27||BARFLYZ||Harrell, Jeff||Redfish, Ryan||40.750|
|8||Imperial Polk County||Palen, Walt||Slager, Joshua||40.250|
|88||Tie one on||Costa, Jared||0||39.000|
|92||Win Knot||Hoffner, Alec||Marcey, Brian||38.500|
|78||Team Cayo||Harrington, Ryan Capt.||Smith, JB||29.000|
|87||Backwater Creations||Roberts, Brenton||Ferrell, Stephen||27.000|
|14||Black Fly||Curley, Ryan||Dumas, James||23.000|
|44||Team Maverick||Johnson, Charlie||Yergens, Christian||22.500|
|52||BackCountry||Summers, Cas||Triano, Phil||22.000|
|82||Release Marine||Kurth, Benjamin||Oxnard, Brendan||22.000|
|35||El Dub||Gaines, Barrett||Kincaid, Chris||21.000|
|25||Omni||Hippler, Travis||Norman, Matt||20.000|
|48||Fin and Feather||Miller, Ryan||Wilson, Brent||18.500|
|59||Kamchatka Survivors||Hermann, Jared||Knowles, James||16.500|
|45||Tampa Bay Sight Fishing||Reckenwald, Tom||Mead, Blake||15.000|
|30||Prestige Worldwide||Maitland, Josh||Osgood, Richard||14.500|
|56||Sofa King Good||Diez, Dan||Vaccaro, Matthew||14.500|
Late August of last year I had received a call from friend and fellow angler Ron Smith. He had informed me that he was going to be donating a Falconry hunt that would be part of the silent auction at the Hooked On Hope charity fishing tournament later that year. I had been on a previous hunt with Ron and he wanted to have me document the hunt for the winners and all that attended. You can’t help but jump on board with such a great charity. Brent Wertz of Tampa was the lucky winner of the hunt and was looking forward to the event. We settled on February 1st as the date for the hunt. Leading up to that Saturday the weather had been gloomy, cold and filled with rain, pretty typical of the winter weather here in Florida.
The sport of Falconry has been documented as far back as 2000BC and was often used as a status symbol among the nobles of medieval Europe, the Middle East and the Mongolian Empire. There are several classes of raptors that are used in Falconry are:
- Eagles – Golden Eagle
- Broadwings – Red Tail Hawk and Harris Hawk
- Longwings – Peregrine Falcons, Praire Falcon; Gyrfalcon; Merlin Falcon and the small Kestrel Falcon
- Shortwings (or Accipiters) - Goshawks, Coopers Hawks and the Sharpshin Hawk
The handlers are referred to as the Falconer.
The meeting spot was the Starbucks in Plant City just off of I-4, and it was pretty foggy and grey out and not the best conditions under which one would like to capture images under. I showed up early and was allowing my equipment to acclimate to the weather in the bed of my truck when Ron arrived with son Fisher, with Brent soon to follow. Brent had brought his daughter Ella. Riding with the Wertz’s was Lee and Loretta Pippin (both committee members at HOH with Loretta being one of the chairs). We then followed in caravan to Highway 33 to an old abandoned golf course where we would be hunting.
Once Ron and the other Falconers explained our plan of action and the “What to do’s” we set off to beat the bushes.
Brent and his daughter Ella about to dive into the briar patches
It was not too long before we had our first kill. We made our way over to the surrounding area and waited for the falconer to get set up. This is the part that amazes me. This raptor, a unique feathered machine with such keen eye sight has just made a kill and the natural instinct of the bird is to feed on their kill. The wingspan is displayed as the kill is covered to be taken out of view of other predators. It is also at this point that you see the relationship that has been built between falconer and the falcon.
Ron with his son Fisher
Sometimes the birds do get a mind of their own and will follow prey into some tight spots. This was the case at one point during the day.
Brent, Lee and Loretta
Overall, I think everyone had a great time not only experiencing the hunt but learning about the history of Falconry that was told by the Falconers that day.
Special thanks goes out to Ron Smith for coordinating the hunt and introducing a group of good people to the sport of Falconry. Ron is a member of the Florida Falconers’ Association , Lee and Loretta Pippin, Brent and Ella Wertz; Matt Smith; Austin Preston and Kristen Amicarella.
Was fortunate enough to slip down to New Smyrna Beach last weekend to visit my bud Eddie and fish the Mosquito Lagoon for a couple of days. In between changing diapers and peeling shrimp at JB’s, Eddie operates New Smyrna Outfitters, a kick-ass fly shop on Canal St. Lucky for me, Eddie’s back was hurting from standing behind the counter in the shop and hanging fly tying materials all day, so he agreed to pole me around the Goon for a couple of sessions. I was reminded how challenging a pressured Mosquito Lagoon redfish can be…or how bad I suck at casting. We had plenty of shots…made some work…and tucked our tails after others. Won’t even go into the baby manatee of a trout that followed my fly briefly. Here’s a few pics from the trip. Thanks to Eddie for the hospitality. Make sure to check out New Smyrna Outfitters if you are in town to fish the Lagoon.
Here are a few photos from a several day trip to Sailfish Oasis Lodge in Guatemala. The Pacific Coast of Guatemala has one of the highest concentrations of billfish on the planet and is one of the best places in the world to catch sailfish on a fly rod. In addition to lots of sailfish, we caught a nice blue marlin that we couldn’t convince to eat a fly, and tons of dorado.
Lots of fish, warm winter weather, and great company!
Special thanks to Sailfish Oasis Lodge in Guatemala.
I recently managed to get my hands on 13 Fishing’s new Concept C baitcasting reel … it made on heck of a first impression.
The reel is sleek and very comfortable to palm. The cork handles are large and very comfortable to grip. Like everything else in their product line, it is obvious that a great deal of time and effort was put into maximizing comfort and ergonomics when designing the concept c.
Another aspect of the reel that jumps out at you when it is in your hand is that it is very light, weighing only 6.1 ounces. Despite being light, the reel does not have a cheap and plastic feel. After a couple turns of the handle, it is apparent that this reel has a very solid and well connected feel. There is also no perceivable play in the system, when the handle moves, line is instantly picked up.
I tried casting a variety of lures, from plastics to plugs. With only a couple adjustments of the centrifugal brakes, the Concept C casted everything I tried with ease.
I knew the Concept line of reels is rated for 22lbs of drag and I was anxious to spend some time with it on the water for a real world test.
I know most saltwater anglers, especially those in florida equate baitcasting reels with bass fishing and believe that baitcasters have no place in the saltwater world after the introduction of braided lines. I would agree with them that for many situations on the flats, a spinning reel is hard to beat; but I still believe that there are a few situations in saltwater where a baitcaster is a better tool…given that the angler can proficiently use one. One of these scenarios is when pitching baits in tight quarters where I need to use heavier lines and need stopping power. And that is why I chose back-country snook fishing as the real world test for the Concept C.
It only took a couple of hours on the water before I hooked up to a snook that would really put this reel to the test. One of the things I have noticed in some of the lighter reels I own is that their frame will flex when the drag is tight and I am engaged with a big fish. This was not the case with the Concept. Its aluminum frame kept the reel feeling solid as a rock the entire time. I had the drag tightened down to pull the fish out of cover as it is important to create as much distance as possible between the snook and structure when you first hook up, especially in heavy cover. The drag worked flawlessly, even though it was set pretty tight; when snook surged, it smootly ceded line avoiding a break off.
Overall I am very impressed with this reel. I currently own a couple other reels that are 100-200 dollars more expensive than the Concept, but they are heavier and do not come even close to having the fish stopping power.
I give the Concept a snookthumb up in my book.
If you own a Garmin Chart Plotter / Sounder; new updates may now be available for your unit :
I updated my Echomap70s; with this 3.10 update ( previous was 2.80 )
** backup your data on micro SD card prior to updating. If system crashes, you will be ale to rescue saved waypoints and saved routes **
Rick De Paiva