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Monthly Archives: January 2010

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Everglades Mothership trip, Lostman’s River trip in a Mothership

Jan 31st 2009

I just got back from an Everglades Mothership trip. We were at the mouth of Lostman’s river for 3 days on a 100 foot mothership with full hotel like accommodations. I mean hot and cold running water, showers, kitchen, 70″ satellite TV, ac, full bar, ice maker, water maker, lounge, even a hot tub. We had 6 boats tied on to the boat so everyone could run around and fish their favorite spots and do some exploring.

The operation is Gulf Island Adventures out of Ft. Myers

It was an awesome experience for sure. I will write more details as I get a chance. I’m typing this on the road right now but will hopefully get more time tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile here are some photos from the trip.

Resolutions and Reflections

2009 was a very discouraging year for me. Never have so many things happened in such a short period of time that brought me disappointment, regret, and loss, but also realization and enlightenment to all aspects of my life. I have learned to be a better father, husband, son, brother and friend. Learning to make the most out of the time I have been given and not take my life for granted was realized. I am sure some of you out there can relate to what is being said.

That being stated, 2009 was a very interesting year also, it wasn’t all bad, and could always have been worse. I adapted to some problems life threw my way, and had some great times. Some good changes to my life occurred and great new experiences were had, as well as new friends made, and many new goals I had set for myself were accomplished. 2009 was definitely a roller coaster ride.

Of course, this is a website dedicated mainly to fishing and photography, so I will spare you the details. The goals and experiences discussed here are all last year’s fishing related hopes and achievements.

Below is an article I wrote last year at about this time for Salty Shores. It was not the usual “New Years Resolution” article, but geared towards fishing goals, as I explained above. I did primarily fishing goals for two reasons; the first being obvious-the piece was for a fishing based website, and second, I wanted to steer clear of the mundane resolutions that everyone always preaches. I am sure those that were reading (if any), feel like me; those articles are redundant, and surely most had read the resolution articles many times already at the start of the year. I was tired of seeing the same old stuff in the newspaper, magazines and television, so this is what I came up with. Even a fishing “resolution” article is a little ordinary to see, but this one is a little different than most. I am definitely glad I wrote it. I wanted to put up the article from last year and evaluate how I did on the goals I set to carry out. Of course, most fishing goals are easier to achieve than quitting smoking or losing weight, but the goals that one sets can be tough nonetheless.

Skim through the old article, it’s not too long, and then check out how I made out.

A Fresh Start-2009

Time for those resolutions. I know, I know. Another article about the annual changes some try to adhere to for the New Year. I have that new diet, quitting smoking, getting more exercise; the list goes on and on. To change it up a little, discussing some resolutions I may actually achieve just a little easier is best. So, this should be a no-brainer- fishing goals. I am an average Joe 9-5 worker. I was introduced to Florida salt water fishing five years ago after leaving my hometown of Baltimore. Moving to Ruskin, FL, I had no idea what was sitting in my backyard-Some of the best fishing in the Tampa Bay area. Ever since residing here I have been fishing at least twice a month, four times if I’m lucky. I have had more bad fishing trips (if there is such a thing) than good, but at least I am out there learning. As with all areas of my life, there are many changes that can be made to improve and educate myself, along with maybe putting a fillet or two in the fryer.

The first thing I feel is imperative for me is to find new areas to fish off the beaten path. The South Shore is pounded by fisherman and women all weekend; usually the “good” spots are covered up, or the fish wise up. Exploring more water to determine where else fish may be holding up is a priority. Learning the backcountry is a good start. The changes in depth, structure, and finding where the fish move during different tides will help me tremendously.

Changing tactics is a must. I have been stuck in a rut fishing the same live baits and artificials in the same ways for years. It’s time for me to have an open mind with my arsenal of unused tackle. If a certain tactic isn’t producing, what could it hurt to mix things up a little? It can’t.

Grouper fishing in the Bay. Having spent little time in the deeper water, the shipping channels of Tampa Bay will be a destination frequented regularly this year. Having just purchased two quality setups for grouper and tarpon, my first heavy duty combos that can handle the big boys will be used repeatedly this summer. I would love to catch my first keeper grouper, bottom fishing and trolling. It will be tough to pry myself away from the flats, but I need to soak some bait in the shipping channel. For me, it will be hard to have the patience to sit on the rocks for a while, but a sandwich and a cold one will help. Trolling for grouper is a different story; this method has so many variables, it could take more than this year to get a keeper running the edges. I will still be giving it a go.

Tarpon, Tarpon, Tarpon. My new heavy action rod for tarpon will have a pass crab or huge threadfin on the hook a few times during the annual run. Believe it or not, I have never even attempted to fish for tarpon. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence, limited knowledge of the etiquette expected while fishing for the silver king, or as with grouper fishing, a lack of patience. Hopefully I will be out this year with someone who can show me the way. Many stories have been told of catching these beasts, mine will be heard this year.

Last but not least, I will be spending more time on and off the water with family, and making new friends to fish with is also a goal. Fishing alone can be fun at times, but it can be unsafe. A bump on the head and a splash in the water is all it takes to wind up on the news. Be safe and good luck to all in life, and fishing in 2009. See you on the water!

So, there are the goals set for 2009, let’s see how I actually performed.

2010 Reflections

Finding new areas to fish and Changing Tactics:

I figure combining these two goals is best. Over the course of the year, I spent a good amount of my time looking for a few new “top secret” honey holes. This was partly because I resolved to do it, and partly because I had no other choice- it’s crowded out there on the South Shore of Tampa Bay. When you are familiar with and fish a certain spot on a regular basis, the fish may not always eat, but at least you know they are there and there is a possibility of landing a couple fish. This gives an angler such as myself confidence and makes it tough to not throw the anchor at that favorite spot. I forced myself (and whomever was on my boat) to go off the beaten path anyways. Being on the water scouting helped me out considerably. I found a few new, rarely fished spots that produced well. Fishing grounds other anglers would just run right by. Spots I didn’t think should have even been tried. I didn’t find all these new holes myself, some friends helped at times, but many were found on my own and were shared to return the favors done for me by others. I also used knowledge taught by others to scout these spots. Diving birds, mullet schools, baitfish and other clues were used on a regular basis to look for fish. This was a big change as I fished in the open water a lot, not just my normal mangrove lines and passes. Techniques I would never have tried the year before, such as different presentations and baits, lures that I have no confidence in, and different rigs were all used with success. Accomplishing these goals has been a huge confidence booster for me, and gave me the knowledge to adapt to the conditions around me for the most successful outing possible.

A favorite area to stalk the prey

Grouper Fishing:

To start, I didn’t do much, if any, trolling for grouper that I can recall. I focused all my attention to dropping baits in the shipping channels and deeper portions of the bay. Fishing with my friends numerous times, friends that have knowledge in this area of expertise, helped me learn the techniques of fishing, in different areas, as well as what to look at besides the depth finder. All I thought that was needed to be successful was sitting on the ledge and dropping a pinfish down to the bottom. Boy was I wrong. Now it’s the norm for me to successfully fish for grouper on my own with confidence. I have had success fishing for deeper water grouper in the channels, and even more luck when shallow water grouper fishing in areas I would never have thought a grouper would be hanging around. I really put an emphasis on learning all I could from other excellent fisherman, and putting my time in on the water on my own. Snapper fishing was also a plus; I found many new rock piles and techniques to pursue this fish as well. Overall, bottom fishing this year was great, much better than I expected.

Not a monster, but I will take it!

Limiting out on snapper and grunts with Rich

Tarpon:

Tarpon ribcage tattoo. Yeah, you could say I caught a small case of "the fever"...

Last year, I finally got off my summer inshore kick, and chased the “Silver King” with reckless abandonment. Reflecting back, when fishing for grouper and tarpon this year, I rarely even brought light tackle gear on the boat. This helped; I had no excuse to give up. After my first tarpon hook set, it was all over; I had the legendary “tarpon fever”.

 

Using the proper knots, leader size, and even analyzing what hooks were being used was like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. So I finally put that piece of the puzzle together, but there was more. When out on the water, I still had to use my head and as stated above, I had to make sure I didn’t stay one dimensional. Changing tactics and adapting was imperative. I learned that tarpon fishing is not just soaking a bait and waiting. For me, it was trying different methods, baits and conditions which helped me in landing my first tarpon. I can now say with confidence that I know how and where to fish for tarpon, and maybe even land one or two. 

Mission Accomplished, with the help of a good friend!

 Making New Friends and Spending Time with Family:

Over the course of the past year, I can’t say that I have made a ton of friends or networked to a great extent. I really didn’t want to try and become Mr. Popularity, because I’m not. What I can say is that while making some really good friends in 09’, quality has made up for quantity. Considering myself a very good judge of character, I surrounded myself with people who, as a good friend of mine would say, “Are assets, not liabilities”. You guys (and gals) know who you are.

As far as family is concerned, finding the time and spending it with my family was not always a top priority; sometimes this took second. In 2010 it is of a great significance to me, especially after some tragic events that took place last year. The times I did spend with the family were fun though. I finally put my father on his first snook, my family and I had numerous barbeques, camping trips and parties, and all of us enjoyed each other through a year of adversity.

Pops with his first snook, and a little too much sunblock on... :)

Quality time

Me and my tarpon chasin' daughter

My buddy Nick and a nice meal...

All in all, as I had stated, 2009 was a hard year. When reflecting upon the past years events, I won’t do much complaining about what happened and don’t want to change much about it. I learned a lot about life and feel I have become a better person in general. For 2010, I haven’t really come up with many resolutions. Some of my focus will be put towards furthering my knowledge of writing, photography, of course, fishing. Targeting some new species is something for me to look forward to also. I will be heading down to the Keys for some bonefish and permit action, with maybe a few tarpon mixed in. Continuing to make friends and doing a little networking will also be in the mix, and for sure, spending time with loved ones and making the most out of life is my top priority. We have all heard it before, but life is too short to take anything for granted.

Extending The Possibilities

Extending The Possibilities

Simple in form, diverse in function, today’s tiller-based skiffs are the essence of uncomplicated fishing. A hull, motor and gear are all that’s needed to explore the shallows of your home port or those far away. Yet as any angler and outdoorsmen will attest, a modification or two always seems to find its way onto the simplest of skiffs.

One modification is a tiller extension. Designed to help better balance the weight distribution of a skiff and in some cases help plane the skiff off faster. Additionally, allowing for a wider variety of positions from which to operate the skiff. Whether a home brew, made from scrap PVC pipe and some hose clamps, or one of a growing number of examples made from super light carbon fiber to super strong aluminum, the choices are plenty.

Check out the full review at microskiff.com

Remote update via Droid phone

OK this my first update using a smart phone. Its going to br brief as I’m typing this on a small keyboard at 6am in a parking lot. I make plenty of mistakes as it is and now I’m handicapped.

Once I get to a place later today I can hook up a laptop I can upload some photos from yesterday’s outing.

BTW this phone will allow me to upload photos as well. It wont be as good as the dslr photos but hopefully I can capture some moments.

“Just Lookin”

The freeze put all us anglers into think mode…..where are we going to get shots, if we find them are they going to eat, where will the fish turn on first, etc….Sunday the wind was blowing 25+ but Ben and I decided we needed to get out of the house, so we did some exploration into old winter time haunts. We searched far into the backcountry in search of shallow mud flats for laid up fish (which is usually the case this time of year). We found an area outside the wind but were reluctant to find any fish able to make a cast to. The good news – NO dead fish to be found. The bad news, the few fish we found were in heavy camo mode. The flats should be heating up rapidly and providing more normal days in the near future. As you can see in the first photo, we were way, way back here in SW florida! No hero or fish shots but just a little idea of where we are searching this time of year. Great news though – Tarpon season is just a skip away and I hope we are going to have an epic season!

Photobucket

Photobucket

2nd Annual Maverick/Backcountry Slam Fly Tournament

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up about a fun tournament for fly fisherman in our Treasure Coast targetting Redfish, Snook, and Trout that will be happening later on this year. 

Off of Maverick’s website:

Second Annual Maverick/Backcountry Slam Tournament. A fly only tournament targeting redfish, snook and trout with a slam format (winning team catches biggest three of all species). Meant more for fun than competition and with a low entry fee, the event will include a post fishing raffle with tackle and items provided by The Backcountry, a leading fly fishing retailer located in Vero Beach. Keep an eye on the forum for more details and entry information.

Saturday, March 06th, 2010 07:00 AM – 03:00 PM

Captains meeting will be held Friday, March 5th at the Backcountry in Vero.  For more information go to www.verobackcountry.com

I was told there will be some pretty sweet prizes this year… See you guys there…

A New Hope…

All this talk about death and moping around has caused a big stir in the fishing community.  It is fact that both our snook and bonefish population have taken a major hit.  But at to what extent?  Nature has always had a way of surviving.  All is not lost.  When all seems grim and we are surrounded by death, nature has a way of surprising us. 

There is a light at the end of this short tunnel.  Reports are coming in from many different areas that the fishery is indeed improving.  Anglers are reporting some of their best days of redfishing from all parts of the state.  The black drum and sheepshead have not been this thick for a couple of years and of coarse, there are still snook being caught.  Permit and Bonefish are also still being caught in Biscayne Bay and the Keys.  Permit come in and out of the shallows off the deep water wrecks.  Bonefish migrate back and forth between South Florida and the Bahamas.  Those snook that managed to escape the onslaught of the cold are slowly returning to some of their wintery haunts.  Some hungry and very willing to eat a well placed fly or plug.  You’ll know when a snook is healthy when it charges and clobbers your fly.  Those that need more time to recooperate will likely just ignore your offerings until they are entirely back to normal.  Catching a snook has become more of a challenge then it has been in the last few years but those who are willing to meet this challenge head on will be greatly rewarded.  These fish will not be wiped out of existance due to catch and release tactics.  The important thing to remember to ensure a fish’s survival is to handle the fish with care and return it back into the water revived and with as little stress as possible. 

To put things into perspective, the last event as such happend in the 70’s.  There were no laws to protect a snook back then, even after the population has taken a hit as such.  This day, the FWC has placed laws to protect the species for a faster recovery, more anglers are practicing catch and release, and anglers have access to more information then ever about proper handling of a snook for a sucessful release.  Don’t let a few negative reports get you down… go out, go fishing, catch some fish, and cherish the time you spend on the water… don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise! 

World Angling's Dave Teper with a big snook caught several days after the "fish kill".

See you guys on the water…

Flats Fisher 25

Sam thank you so much for posting our new boat on saltyshores. It means a lot to me to see it there. Here is a small write up from our business partner/designer of this skiff. His name is Dave Exley and he is the originator/builder of the Banana River Skiffs aka Dolphin Super skiff. We have been working on this skiff for over 5 years now and it is almost ready to get going!

Thanks again
Clint Marshall
(Taken form microskiff.com)
A year ago a friend asked me to jump into a microskiff.com forum and do some explaining about the Banana River Skiff.  At that time, I had the urge to mention the Flats Flyer, which we’d already been working on for more than 3 years, but I decided not to.
The same thing happened today with this thread about the Flats Flyer – a friend asked me to jump in.  Since there is no MaxiSkiff.com, I hope you will forgive me for bringing this to MicroSkiff.com.

Together with a few friends and a lot of help from other marine business professionals, we have spent nearly 5 years developing the Flats Flyer.  It is big: 25 feet long with a 7 foot beam.  At the start of the project we were wondering if we were crazy and if it could possibly do all the things we hoped it would do.  Now we can say, “Yes”.  The only thing it doesn’t do is go extremely fast, but that was never on our list of requirements.

A few days ago we activated FlatsFlyer.com and placed a preview video there to give notice that it is coming.  My apology to all who had difficulty trying to view the video – that was our fault. The problem has been fixed. Anyone whose computer can display a YouTube video will be able to play the Preview at FlatsFlyer.com.

I would love to tell you everything about the Flats Flyer right now, but for some innovations we will have to wait.  I did not think to secure a patent for the level chine design that many flats boats builders use today, but we are protecting the Flats Flyer hull design and must wait for a couple of verifications before we can make those features public.  On the positive side, most of the other 30+ innovations in the Flats Flyer will not be design protected, and now we can tell you about some of those.  When all are revealed, I think some microskiff builders will adopt some of those for their skiffs.
There has been some debate in this thread about the hull bottom shape. What I can tell you is “Yes, it does look like a flat bottom boat” and “No, it is not flat.”  We selected video clips that did not give a good look at the hull bottom.  The only other thing I can say about the hull at this time is that the boat has a surprisingly comfortable and dry ride, has superior stability, and I think it is the quietest flats boat ever built.  When poling, it has almost zero forward vibration signature.

Another point of debate in this thread is about the value of wood in modern boat building.  Production Flats Flyers will be built of inorganic composites – no wood – but I find no fault in using wood for my personal boats and plan to build a wood rowboat for myself in the near future.  Wood has a lot of wonderful qualities for boat building, but the Flats Flyer will be built with fibers and pvc foam composites, held together by 100% epoxy, and post cured in a large oven for max strength and impact resistance.  PS – select balsa wood is very light and is an outstanding composite core for certain applications.
We expect finished and fully equipped Flats Flyers, including 3 batteries and filled gas and water tanks, will weigh about the same as the bare wood prototype seen in the preview video, or maybe weigh a little less.  The boat seen in the video weighs nearly 1,600 lbs. before adding motor, battery, etc.  It took 20 healthy guys lifting wood extensions to carry it out of the barn and turn it over; then we trimmed out some excess to bring it down to 1,600.  We weighed it on a certified scale.

I’m pretty sure the Flats Flyer has more development time and more innovations than any other flats boat ever built.  To back me up, I’ll tell you a little about it:  In May 2006, Jesse and Clint Marshall and I began a conversation about building a new flats boat.  In August, we decided to build one.  In October, we attended the annual IBEX (International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition for marine professionals; about 1,000 exhibitors were there) to see all the latest hardware offerings and make decisions for hardware in our boat.  It is a real bummer if you build a boat and then discover you have to get out the chainsaw to get the hardware to fit.  From that point, I worked full time for 5 months designing and drawing it.

We started with a blank sheet of paper, not building onto or using anything from a pre-existing boat.  We looked at every single piece and part of flats boats and asked “How could this be done better?”  In January 2007, I began sending the drawings to Timm Smith of Smith Marine Design who loaded those into his CAD program (created a table of offsets and made 3D drawings).  He would send me the CAD files and, with a CAD reader, on my computer screen I could “fly” the boat in all directions and look at it from all angles, zoom in and out, and discuss lines and changes with Timm.

We talked a lot of theory and debated a lot of possibilities.  In April, we printed 20 full size cross section drawings on 3×8 foot stabilized blueprint paper (the same used for templating airplane parts), glued those onto sheets of very stable  ¾ plywood (I think it is 13 ply), and very carefully cut those out to make sturdy plywood rib cross sections.  Jesse and Clint built a nearly perfect building platform (less than 1/32 inch variation on surface height), and we erected the plywood sections on about 14 inch centers and trued them up.  Then we bought a pile of #1 white pine in 20’ lengths, many sheets of 3/8 and ½  marine grade plywood, ProSet epoxies and 10 oz fiberglass cloth and began planking and fairing.

The hull was difficult to build, particularly because Jesse is a perfectionist.  Then, GET THIS, after nearly 4 labor intensive months of building the hull, we took it for the first test ride and after only 15 semi-satisfying minutes we took the boat back to the shop, turned it over, and cut away more than one third of the bottom and rebuilt it.  We rebuilt the hull several times and fine tuned it a lot.  That took a few more months.  By the way, the finished boat will be a bit lower than the video prototype boat. It still has a builder’s form attached on top of the gunwales (gunnels) to help keep everything true until we cast the hull mold.

You may find this interesting:  before we cut the first piece of wood we knew the hull’s center of balance and center of gravity (both 58% back from the bow), its flotation value (2,370 lbs at 6 inch draw) and some other things that I struggle to understand, such as prismatic coefficient.  Among other benefits, that knowledge guided us to locate things like batteries and fuel tanks for optimum balance.  Most small boats are delivered with empty storage areas.  The Flats Flyer will be delivered with every necessary component already installed and placed in the best locations for good access and balance, much like a well designed car.  That brings me to a few innovations I can reveal to you:

1.      The Flats Flyer has a ballast system.  In our preview video, if you look at the first poling clip what you are not shown is the beginning footage of that clip.  At the start of that missing footage the bow is slightly out of the water and gradually lowers until the hull is perfectly level.  The colored stripes at the waterline fore, mid, and aft, indicate inches of draw at those locations.  The lower edge of the red stripes is 6 inches above the keel, so on that video clip you can see the boat is drawing almost 6 inches the full length of its keel.  When a hull is at optimum level, it moves through the water easiest and is floating its shallowest.  There are other things ballast can do:  you can make an unpowered boat point into the wind or point downwind or to points in between.  So you don’t have to fight to keep the boat pointed in the direction you want to go.  Or another way to think of it: if the boat tracks straight, you get to use most of your poling energy to move the boat forward.  The FF hull was designed to respond to ballast.  If you try to add a ballast system to most boats you may be fighting against some inherent buoyancy and balance points that don’t want to cooperate.  To avoid that, I can tell you about another innovation:

2.      A section of the Flats Flyer hull is open to the sea at all times – it has no buoyancy in that section and helps trim the boat with less ballast.  That section is securely isolated from the rest of the hull and doubles as a pump room with inlets and outlets for livewell, baitwell, etc.  That brings us to another innovation:

3.      The main bilge of the Flats Flyer has no thru-hulls. Marine insurers will tell you the majority of boat sinkings are due to drain plug accidents and bilge thru-hull, hose, hose connections and pump failures.  Our solution: no drain plug or thru-hulls in the sealed main bilge under the self-bailing cockpit floor.  Four more innovations, then I am done for now:

4.      The production boat will have internal lockers for two 21’ push poles, stored straight to prevent a curve set. The boat owner can sleep worry-free at night without having to take the pole(s) into his house or a hotel room (very difficult in high-rise hotel elevators.)  Why two push poles:  What happens to your very special flats fishing trip if you break one?  And you can take both a super light and a tougher-but-heavier one for variable conditions.

5.      There are no aggravating and guide-damaging rod tip tubes – the Flats Flyer will have completely open, well protected, under-gunwale storage for 8 flyrods up to 10’ long.

6.      It will have tight seam hatch lids with precision fit gaskets – so tight fitting that even the smallest fly hook cannot fall into a crack.  The seams are so tight they are virtually waterproof, so the Flats Flyer does not need complicated gutter systems and has 100% opening storage areas – no big boxes with small openings.  Did you ever have to clean around the underside of a small hatch opening, or wonder what was lurking there?   I don’t mind telling you those matched hatches and openings are difficult to build, fit and hinge, but the result is very nice and they are very quiet.

7.      Our boat will be offered in two versions: The Grand Class Flats Flyer, Model 1 (M1) and The Essential Flats Flyer, Model 2 (M2).  Among the differences, the M-1 will have a yacht quality elongated toilet (head) with odor-free holding tank and pop-up privacy enclosure.  It satisfies requirements for no-dumping zones and modesty issues.  That, combined with the Flats Flyer’s size, makes the FF “Family Friendly”.

No matter how you get there, I hope all of you experience tight lines and good fishing.

Sincerely,
Dave

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