I have a friend down in Matlache Florida that moved to Vail Colorado last year. Lane just wanted a change of scenery. He just packed his bags one day and decided to go. Being twenty seven years old, single and no ties you can do things like that. He moved there in November and started to teach ski and snow board lessons to tourist and now is working with the fish and wildlife services up there. Basically he hasn’t looked back.
When he came down this past May to do some fishing with me we spoke of me heading up to Vail Colorado to do some fishing. I wasn’t quite sure if I would have the time or energy this summer. Knowing Vail to be a very expensive area I wasn’t quite sure about the cost of flights, places to stay either.
Months past by and things started to come together. During the off season the hotels are empty and the flights were cheap. I got a ticket to Vail for $400.00. I was staying at Lane’s apartment so the hotel bill was out of the equation as well. All I would have to worry about was food and the cost of getting around. I like this kind of trip much better than a guided tour for the most part because you get to do things that is off the beaten path. Besides it would be much less touristy.
The flight to Vail was a quick one compared to Thailand that was for sure. I flew out of Tampa at 2:30pm and got there but 6pm.(time zone changes) I was playing solitaire watched movies on my IPAD the entire way. BTW: the IPAD is an awesome plane travel companion. The battery last like 7 hours and packs a bunch of entertainment.
Lane picked me up and the first thing we did was stopped by a near by stream to break out the fly rod to wet test it. Today I was using the on loan combo of the Mystic 5wt with a Nautilus NV 5wt reel. In hind sight I could have gotten away with the lighter, cheaper Nautilus FW series reel. The rod took a little getting use to as I was use to the action of saltwater fly rods. After about 15minutes however, I pretty much had it down.
We opted not to nymph this evening so we threw streamers to mimic a local minnow which the trout feed upon. We fished the area for a couple hours with fish all around us flipping happily. We got two eats but could never landed the fish. I was a little jet lagged and tired so we headed back to Lane’s apartment to unload all my gear for the two day trip.
I knew I was in Colorado when I felt out of breath climbing up some stairs when we went and grabbed a burger and wings for dinner. I really knew I was in a touristy area when I stopped by to get an ice cream cone and the guy guy behind the counter said “that will be $7.00 sir”. Heck that cost as much as my burger!
The next morning we were up at 5am to make the one and a half hour drive to the fishing hole. We pulled up to the parking to see a nice Porche 911 parked there. Now since we were to meet Lane’s buddy Luke, who also worked for the fish and game I knew this definite was not Luke’s ride. I mean, unless Luke has a trust fund or they are flying square groupers into Colorado these days.
Luke arrived a little later than us and proceeded to hook up on streamers immediately. A small brown then a couple of nice rainbows. Lane then proceeded to get a nice 20″ rainbow as well. I was camera trigger happy and neglected to fish much during all this of course and missed out on the morning bite as usual.
The scenery is just awe inspiring in Colorado. With lush plant life, streams filled fish pretty much every where. The mountains, wild birds, wild game and lots of open wilderness all around. The air is crisp and basically no humidity. I mean it can be 50 degrees and I’m wearing shorts and a long sleeve shirt. When it was 80 degrees outside I wasn’t sweating a drop. If it was 80 degrees in Florida I don’t even want to be outside for very long. When it is 50 degrees in Florida I need a jacket. It’s weird how humidity affects your comfort level.
Anyways I digress. After the sun was nice and bright we decided to head over to another river. There we did mostly nymphing and the bite was on fire. For a while there it was one cast after another we would get a rainbow on. The flies of nymphing you can barely see. They are so small it was literally the size of a small “J” on your computer screen and some even smaller! At times I couldn’t even tell if I still had a fly on or not.
After a quick pizza in the local pizza parlor which by the way only cost $5.00 for 2 slice of cheese with drinks, we were off to do a float trip with another buddy’s of Lane. Alex who is part owner of the local flyshop slash guide service in town called The Mintun Anglers met us at the ramp with his float boat. It took a bit to set up the shuttle for the float trip but it was well worth it. We drift/float the Colorado and caught a bunch of brown trout. I have to admit Alex kicked my ass, out catching me like 8 to 1. What the hell I was happy just taking in the beauty of the entire place. The last time I did a float trip was in Alaska last year. The fish were bigger up there but the weather is better in Colorado so take your pick.
After the float trip and already a 12 hour day we were 3 starving fisherman. Alex recommended a place called The Charcoal Burgerl which wasn’t too far away from where were put the boat back on the trailer. We placed order and had to wait about 15minutes for a burger. I believe they actually make the burgers from scratch and grill on the charcoal just like the sign said. The burger tasted like it was home made minus the spices. It was filling but I have to say wasn’t very tasty. Regardless we were for filled of our dinner obligations that night.
With the jet lag, thin air and being up running around fishing for 14 hours now, I fell asleep on the drive back to Lane’s house which was still another 1.5 hours away. Needless to say, after a shower I was out like a light! I have been in Colorado 1.5 days how and have yet to see Lane’s apartment in daylight. Yes it has been quite a long 1.5 days.
Day 2 we are up 5am again to go hunt for more fish. Today, honestly I really didn’t care to fish very much. I was more about absorbing the atmosphere and culture of the Vail. Being the hardcore fisherman that we are we still ended up fishing til about noon. The sun was out today, it was beautiful. We decided to take a short cut through the mountains via the forest roads.
When we got the entrance of the forest road there was a road closed sign on it. Lane looked at the map real quick and confident he could go around it. Or so it seemed. We made a quick stop at a local country store to get some beef jerky and drinks and off we go on the dirt roads. The 1 hour trip turned into 2 hours, then 3 hours. We were kinda sorta lost. All was not lost however, as the scenery got better and better as we climb the road not so often traveled. We got some really cool scenic shots, saw some wild deer about 30′ away, beavers, and tons of birds.
Not planning for such long tripped we even stopped and got some nice raspberries along the trail. The was pretty cool, I haven’t eaten wild berries since I was kid. The berries were everywhere really but at this point with hours of bouncing up and down on the rough roads we were getting hungry.
Hour number 3 we ran into and ATV/bow hunter that was cool enough to give us directions to cross the mountain so we could get home once again. After even a rougher ride we finally got onto some paved roads. I got a phone single and called in to order something interesting to eat. The place we have been talked about all day was to eat some game animals at a place called the GAS House. The place is like a nice cozy local pub/restaurant. Cold beer and some food was on the way.
I order the variety pack appetizer. This consist of quail, elk, deer, pheasant sausages. We got there and gobbled it up quickly and the bartender informed us the appetizer were 50% during happy hour which was even better! I ordered truffle fries, more quail, and a nice serving of rocky mountain oysters. I never had truffle fries or rocky mountain oysters(bull testicles) and I have to say it was pretty good. The RMO, tasted like fried chicken gizzards but more tender.
After a cold beer and some food we were off to Lane’s kick ball championship game. The won the semis and the won the finals so we didn’t get out of there until almost 9pm. Yes another 15 hour day for us and at this point I am wishing I was about 10 years younger! We were off to get a real dinner tonight at the Minton Country Club. Well it’s not really a country club, just a restaurant named so. Lane works there part time and tells me it’s the best steak in town.
We walked in and they place was empty! Normally this is scary because you figures the food must be bad or something. The tell me every place is dead in late August because it’s off season in Vail this time of year. Lane assure me so and we picking our steak in no time. I like my steak medium rare and at this place if it’s not it’s totally your fault. Yes because you get to cook your own steak of all things. Yep, you actually get up walk up to the grill and put your steak on the grill and cook them. They had basting sauce and all. They tell me during season the place is packed and all the grills they have are filled with people cooking steaks and talking with a drink in their hand. Lane even tells me Britney Spears goes there every so often, I can’t imagine.
The next day I was up at 6am and flying back to Tampa by 8am. Awesome trip and a ton of stuff packed in there for a 2 day trip. Things I need to remember when I go back there either to ski or in the spring for the flowers and fishing. Felt wading boots is a must along with breathable waders. Loose some dam weight and get in better shape. With the thin air I was huffing and puffing going up stairs, quite embarrassing! Bring less clothing. With the temperature the way it was you don’t sweat. Besides under clothing you can just almost wear the same thing everyday.
In fly tying one of the first patterns most people learn is the Seaducer. It’s fairly simple, quick to tie, lightweight, easy to cast, and very productive. I got an phone call a couple of weeks ago from a fellow fly fisherman saying that they have been having great success on the fly pattern but they were snagging a lot of loose grass even with a double post weedguard. It seems every year at this time there is a lot of floating debris in the water. You lead the fish a little bit and by the time you strip the fly in front of the fish it is jammed up with grass.
It’s one of the most frustration situations in Fly Fishing is knowing that your fish will eat a fly, but you can’t make the presentation. You don’t want to leave your fish and go somewhere else. So you pound away at them until you give up all together. So the question is how do you make your fly even more weedless? Enter the Double Loop Weedguard. It can be added to most inshore patterns and it does not affect the presentation or motion of the fly pattern.
Thread: Brown Flat Wax
Hook: Gama SC15 #1
Tail: Barred Hackle
Flash: Copper/Tan Krystal Flash
Body: Barred hackle
Eyes: Small Beadchain (1-2ft of water)
Weedguard: 30lb Mason Mono (Double Loop)
Step 1: Start your thread in the middle of the shank. Wrap it back to just beyond the bend of the hook. Work your thread back to just before the bend of the hook. This provides a secure foundation for your weedguard.
Step 10: Move the mono around until you get it in the position that you would like. You need to make sure you loops are large enough to cover the point of your hook. Trim the ends of your mono. Pull the loops until the end of the mono is at your thread. Tie in using a couple more turns and whip finish.
Today I had the opportunity to guide some talented young anglers from Cocoa Beach High Schools Anglers Club Koby, Telly and Chris. Koby’s birthday was on August 27th so his dad had booked a trip with me for Koby and his 2 fishing buds. As my skiff can only fish 2 on the front deck comfortably, Eddie Oliveras was kind enough to follow me around and tote the extra anglers so he would not be left out of all the fun. Koby’s main goal was to catch a Tarpon and pose with it for a photo opportunity, so the plan was to fish a pod of Tarpon that has been roaming in my neck of the woods lately, then hit the backcountry for some super skinny redfish. Weather man has called for light winds for the first half of the day so I figured my plans would work out perfect, well as we all know…weather man lies! Winds were blowing 10-15+ mph at first light but I did not let that ruin our plans, we decided to proceed. After coaching Koby on how to bow to the King while putting to the Tarpon spot, we immediately see a couple blow ups and rolls ahead of us. Koby hooks on a live mullet and wings it down wind into the commotion…minutes later he’s hooked up to his first poon, but shortly after a couple jumps shakes the hook. I told Koby not to worry, we will stay here until you get your wish! About 30 minutes later his mullet gets blasted again and he is hooked on to his 2nd Tarpon, but unlike the 1st, this one comes to the boat after a 25 minute fight(which Koby thinks it was an hour or so). Happy Birthday Koby!
After shooting some quick photos of his present, the Tarpon was released back to roll around with it’s friends while Telly and Chris are trying to catch it’s friends on Eddie’s skiff a few yards over. Telly and Chris end up landing a few trout but no Tarpon….it was time to move on to some Redfish. Chris was the first to hook up to a Redfish right off the bat as his casting skills were on point, Koby and I worked a little mangrove island around the corner, which was a good call as we see a fat Redfish cruising along the point of the island. A well placed bait enticed the Redfish to eat and scream goes the drag on the Shimano Stradic but the Red decides to weave deeply into some mangrove roots before it heads out to the open flats. I immediately tell Koby to open the the bail and hand the rod to me while I’m jumping down from the Poling platform. I hop into the water, run through some nasty muck deep into the mangrove roots dunking and weaving my Shimano Stradic underwater through the roots in order to save Kobys hard earned Redfish, moments later I got it undone, ran back over to my skiff and handed Koby the rod with his Redfish still attached screaming more drag. (I still can’t believe I pulled that one off, I sworn it was a goner.) Here it is, the Redfish that tried to out smart us but failed!
As the trip almost comes to an end with multiple shots at cruising fish and a couple break offs, we almost call it quits until 2 Redfish were cruising straight for our skiffs as if they wanted a ride somewhere. Well, a ride they both got when both Koby and Telly hook into the 2 fish seconds apart and in comes another healthy redfish for Koby and an unusual Redfish for Telly…this beautiful Redfish had 88 spots!!!
That was a great end to the day as the talented young anglers had a trip of a lifetime! It’s days like today that I am glad I chose the path of being a professional inshore fishing guide, just the smiles on these young mens faces from being on the water and having a great time catching fish with very little stress! I definitely look forward to more days like this!
-Capt. Willy Le
We put a full Plywood deck in w/ Gunnels and supports before she was pulled from the mold. We brought along 500lbs of wet sand bags to put on the hull to simulate the added weight. 150lbs on the bow for Tank and Gas, 100lbs in the cockpit for liner and console weight, and 250lbs at the stern for motor. Put two full grown men (200lbs) on the boat. Robert took a pencil and marked the water line. Back at the shop we got the draft numbers. 7 1/8″! I got a chance to run around the gunnels and was surprised at how stable it is. It is truly something you will have to see to believe!
Here are some pics!
From the mold
Floating w/ 500lbs of sand
Robert marking the first water line
Floating w/ two people
Chapter V… Pre-Absolute (almost done)
The last month had definitely been the longest month of my life. For the first time in half a decade, I was boatless for an extended period of time. Though the wait was actually not that long, it felt like forever but finally my dream boat has been realized. The result of a shopping list of little nit pick details I gave to Maverick Boat Company gave way for my new skiff… a 2011 Maverick Mirage HPX-V 18.
Yamaha F90: After having fished out of 3 different setups… Yamaha F150, F115, and F90, I decided to go with an F90 for this 18 HPX. Even I was skeptical of the F90 on a bigger skiff at first but after having spent an afternoon on Capt. Mark Krowka’s 18 HPX wit F90, I was absolutely convinced. The lighter motor in the rear will not only allow the 18 HPX-V to be poled in less then 8 inches of water, but it will also allow the HPX to spin quicker and quieter (it also helps that the boat does not need sponsons to float shallow). Speed was not an issue as the F90 setup should have no problems running in the mid 40s. I spend most of my time chasing fish on my push pole, not on the big motor.
Custom Hull/Deck color: I’ve always liked the subtle look and have always been in the pursuit of sharp looks without sacraficing function. I am a firm beleiver in the cliche “form follows function.” I’ve pondered on several different hull color combinations and in a last minute move (and some inspiration from my buddy Jeremy’s 18 HPX), I decided to go with a 2 tone deck. I chose a custom color called Whisper Grey for the non-skid, hull, and console. This was a popular color back in the early Maverick days and one which would suit the look I was going for perfectly. Whisper grey is a really light grey, almost white, but shaded just enough so that there would be absolutely no glare reflecting off this color. No more glare in your eyes when looking down from the poling platform and no more white balance blowouts in photos. The color stays cool after being in the sun for long periods of time, unlike the darker greys and blacks. It was a no brainer. Another added plus is that the whipser grey also cleans up fairly easy. Accenting the Whipser grey on the deck of my mirage, I had Maverick use their “ice blue” for the trim around the non-skid and front and rear bulkheads. The 2 tone look added some sex appeal while retaining it’s functionality. I would say win-win!!
Console and switches: I chose to go with the smaller 17 HPX-V console to make room for a bigger cooler and bigger deck. Maverick installs a bigger hatch opening on the console now that allows for easier access. A removable shelf was also put in to hold small accessories. Rather then go with the toggle switches, I upgraded to the Lenco push button switches which is more erganomic in my opinion when you are modulating the throttle and playing with the trim at the same time. I had these same style switch setup on my old 17 HPX-V and loved it.
Trailer: Ameratrail Trailer with zero degree torsion axle, side carpeted bunks, and rollers on the rear crossmember… for the closest thing to absolute dry launch. The hubs never get wet.
Accessorizing: This part of the skiff is totally subjective to every indivudials’ needs. Some like to deck out the skiff with every accessory known to man from power poles to full blown GPS/Radars, to harpoon canons. I decided to keep this skiff simple. I went with a Pro-Trim casting platform on the bow of the skiff as I have become very familiar with that foot print. I chose a simple but sexy Garmin 546 GPSMap as a Nav Aid (ordered and on the way). To keep my drinks cool, I chose a mid sized Yeti cooler (ordered and on the way) to rest in front of my console and will probably be getting a second larger cooler for food fish gathering missions. Of coarse, no skiff is complete these days without Sea Deck. I had Tyler from Castaway Customs install the Sea Deck pads under the rod gunnels, on my poling platform, and casting platform. To complete the setup, I will be installing a Wang Anchor setup and possibly a removable Minnkota iPilot trolling motor.
I drove up to Fort Pierce to picked up my new skiff this past Friday and spent today breaking in the motor. The arena would be the weekend warrior and wind driven turbid waters of the northern recesses of Biscayne Bay in metropolitan Miami; just within sight of Government Cut and Brickell. Once I got passed the 3 hour mark, I got to open her up a little. The results were nothing short of amazing. My buddy Juanki and I decided to do a quick test run to see what potential this type of power will have on this hull. With 2 anglers, an almost full tank of gas, cooler full of ice and drinks, and fishing gear; I made a quick short run and reached 45mph in mere seconds. I looked down at the tach to see that I wasn’t fully trimmed up yet and that I would still have a bit of room to play with but decided to back it down until after the motor is completely broken in. No doubt this boat is going to be a 48-49mph skiff running a lighter load. What truley amazed me were the cruise speeds… 36-37mph @ 4600rpms.
The 10 kt breeze turned into a consistant 15kt wind with 20kt gusts in the afternoon. Taking this opportunity, I decided to run straight across the roughest part of Biscayne Bay from Key Biscayne on the east side of the bay straight to Gables by the Sea on the west side of the bay. We got the skiff running up on it’s pad and never got a drop of water in the boat. What was also amazing was the incredible bow lift and the willingness of the hull to stay in the water instead of leaping airborne. This was a true testament to the genius design of the brainchilds over at Maverick Boat Company.
Everyone’s got that one friend who nit picks at every little details and will always find something negative to say about the slightest details. I brought that one friend along with me today and in his exact words… “I honestly can’t think of anything negative I can point out about this boat.” I just grinned… thinking about the next time on the water and finally getting some slime on the deck (figure of speech).
Stay tuned for the next chapter… I ran out of smart ideas to name the next chapter as I have absolutely no clue what will be in store for us on the next outing. There is only one way to find out…
Another great short little video from the World Angling group. A little demonstration of the new HB Biscayne and Neptune! Thought you might enjoy if you have not seen it yet.
Chapter IV… Refined…
We approach the final stages of the construction process of my new Maverick Mirage. The hull and cap were popped from the molds, the cap was then fused to the hull, seadeck installed, and now the final details are being worked on. The hatches were installed, console wired, Yammadog hung on the rear, and little details refined. These photos depict the final stage before the installation of the poling platform. I await several other accessories such as the casting platform, prop, and GPS to bring my Mirage closer to completion.
The wait is near an end and the fun has almost just begun.
Stay tuned for the next chapter… Pre-Absolute!!!
I had a request for some Kingfish photos today. While looking for some I ran across some good ones that I never editted.
I took the opportunity to re edit a couple them tonight. These were shot in Key West Last season but as usual I never have the chance to check them all out.
I thought some of these turned out pretty cool.
A friend has loaned me a Nikon 105mm macro lens so I have been playing around with it for several days. You can see other examples at my blog, InshoreNearshore.blogspot.com or InshoreNearshore.com and navigate to the Macro gallery. These shots were taken with ambient light but I am also using the SB-R200, (looks like the flash used on the cameras in Miami CSI), which works great and is easy to use. Just set everything to TTL/Fill flash and let the camera do the work.
I hope to get more opportunities to work with this lens. The only nit I have is that even though 105mm seems like it would give you adequate working distance, it sometimes does not. To get 1/1 macro, you need to be inches from the subject and some subjects just won’t tolerate that. This redfish had no choice.
Thanks for looking!
If you were on the Saltyshores newsletter you saw this video last week. Here is the video of the 40lb Cobia caught by Lauren and Nick Winger last month. It’s a fun little video shot on my Kodak Playsport Vlog style while I was driving the boat.