Our first major cold front swept across South Florida, sending days of rain and overcast skies, followed by lots of wind and some unwelcomed clouds into my home waters. What a perfect opportunity to drive up north and chase the blue bird skies. I left the office last Friday and rushed over to Kissimmee, FL in order to catch the last couple hours of the FFF Expo. Following this day, my buddies Capt. Willy Le (www.NativeFlyCharters.com) and Dominic A. invited me to spend a day in the Lagoon chasing some redfish. A change in scenery is always welcomed… especially when hometown weather becomes unfavorable. I always have a good time hanging with my buddies from the North.
We arrived to a dirt ramp the next day. There was a slight chill in the air this morning but it was quite comfortable. The winds hadn’t really laid down as it was still blowing at 15kts out of the North. With all the wind and rain from past weeks, the water had been high and dirty in the Lagoon prior to this day. We rode through some marshy looking mazes and across some shallow sand bars in the Maverick HPX-Tunnel as Willy scanned the waters for the right sign. Willy backed off on the throttle as we approached our destination. Everything there seemed right… we found that the water receeded to just about the perfect level, had a brownish tinge to it but was shallow enough to spot fish waking and tailing. The ever-present shrimp that would jump out of our path as we poled down the shorelines looking for signs of life. As I watched a redfish crawl around with it’s back out of the water, occasionally exploding on a pod of shrimp, I knew at that moment that we were exactly where we should be.
I armed myself with Shimano’s latest Brain-child… the Sustain FG (Full write-up review coming soon) on the trusty G Loomis Greenwater. The floating grass was thick in certain parts but still wanting to see some head out of the water eats, I tied on a DOA CAL with a Chug-Head on it. This was as weedless as any topwater lure can be. Needless to say, after 3 head out of water eats and a few misses… I got what I had come for…
We swapped off shots the next couple of hours between the 3 of us, catching redfish on both flies and DOAs, filming both follies and successes, and making a not-so-serious fun time out of catching slot redfish after slot redfish. We claimed a dozen fish by the end of the day on the fly rod alone.
The great time on the water was only bettered by our stop at Ms. Apples Crab Shack, on our way back to the barn. Forget about fish camps, burgers, hostile uppity elitists, and sandwiches… the laid back atmosphere and great eats at Ms. Apples is one tradition within a fishing trip I could definitely dig. There is nothing better then Maryland style blue crabs…
The last 3 photos were shot with a new iPhone 4S 8MP camera. Not too bad if I say so myself.
There was still a bit of time to kill after we got back and washed up the boat. We decided to walk to a nearby pond and throw some hoppers/gurglers at some bass and bluegill to kill off the last hour of light. Now I am inspired to go out and purchase a 5wt.
Here is a short video Capt. Willy snipped together…
Back at home now and waiting for the next opportunity for the weather to allow me to get out and chase some bonefish. Stay tuned…
I will not enter into the fray of NY vs. Chi-town pizza war. Suffice to say, if it is pizza – I will eat it.
On the way back from the conclave the other day I decided I would “take one for the team” ( real sacrifice right? : ) ) and stop by the Chicago Hub (http://www.chicagohubrestaurant.com/) in Winter Haven for some pizza. We had been there previously and were pleased.
Well, it was going on near 2:00 and I was “hawn-gry”. I started off with an order of 10 wings ($6.95). I couldn’t make my mind up as to which version I wanted so after speaking with Danny (he loves and runs the place) I was steeled on 4 versions. A Parmesan Garlic was my favorite that day (tomorrow my taste buds may want the Cajun more : ) ) they were unbreaded and fried with a bit of the sweetness or the garlic and a hint of saltiness of the parmesan.The Cajun was a medium butter sauce base with Cajun spices that was very good also. Wrapping it up was the Hot garlic and the hot traditional wings. both were quite good with the taste we are used to with hot wings. The exception being the sauce was a mite bit thicker, clinging to the meaty wings better.
As Matt was cooking my pizza (taking about 20 mins. ) Danny came out to visit with me. I was able to find out of his love for fishing and also his love of food. One of the ways he relayed this was saying, “I love feeding people” . I have come to believe that those loving what they do tend to be better at it than someone that just does stuff for a check.
Then comes the main event…pizza. It was a small supreme ($16) which is large enough to stuff two or to feed three.The crust had just a bit of a light crunch to it. There was ample cheese to it (as witnessed by the string of cheese in the pic) and all the vegetables were fresh. The sweet Italian sausage is home-made and all the other meats (pepperoni, bacon, ham) were piled high. I can not say when the last time was when I enjoyed a pizza so much…wait!…yes I can… the last time I ate here about one month ago.
I had no room to finish off the meal with desert (as we did the last time there) but I can tell you the Lemoncello Mascarpone cake is fabulous as well as the Italian Rum (who knew they distilled rum? : ) ) cake. I am told the brownie is quite the treat also.
Italian sausage sandwich and Italian beef sandwich is on the menu as well and even though I know I will have to try them one day, I will be hard pressed to omit ordering pizza too.
Not the easiest to find as it is stuck in the corner of the center, but well worth the drive
I do have one minor complaint. Amidst the standard music related to “The City With Big Shoulders” such as Blues Brothers “Soul Man” and various renditions of “Chicago”, I did hear Jay Z/Alicia Keys ”Empire state of Mind”, that’s just not right!…I believe they have that corrected now.
I was in town and decided I’d follow up with an Italian beef sandwich. It is difficult for me to go there and not get pizza but I showed restraint. I did however order some of the garlic parmesan garlic wings and they were just as good as before.
When the sandwiches arrived I was pleased to see that two had been made. Since I had said “make it like you like your sandwich” one had grilled onions and bell peppers (enough such that they were soft and sweet) and the other also added mozzarella cheese. The 1/3 pound, or so, of thinly sliced Sirloin tip steak was piled high in a 6 inch roll. Upon the first bite the predominate flavor was the beef (as it should be), the nice, lean, juicy,tender beef. Not a bit of gristle or fat to be found. There was a hint of italian spices but nothing at all overpowering. This was all about the beef. There were sufficient onions and bell peppers but just enough to compliment the beef which is the main attraction. The side The one with cheese was placed in the oven to melt the cheese which dried the bread just a bit but it allowed it to pick up more of the juice. Again, not disappointed but rather very pleased. And the cost of this taste of Chicago?… only $5.50
At the recent Florida Fly Fishing Conclave I was able to meet up with Capt Craig Crumbliss with Andy Thornal’s in Winter Haven. I had previously met Craig at the store and he had volunteered to help us with OSW in taking wounded vets fly fishing in fresh water. He was raised in South Florida and has been fly fishing freshwater for over fifteen years. I had seen on Facebook where he had just published his first book. I was very pleased to get one of the first copies to review for you here. Upon returning home I got started reading immediately.
The book is a small paperback consisting of 85 pages but don’t let that fool you. There is a goodly bit of information in this book. I found the reading easy and the format quite simple (a good thing for me). In the first section of the book the Largemouth bass is featured as the primary target species here for fresh water and numerous characteristics of the fish were given.
The fly fishing gear and fly casting instructions were given and even a number of fly recommendations were listed. Furthermore, detailed food sources were listed in order to assist with fly selection (including one suggestion to bring scissors and pens to more closely “match the hatch”).
The last portion of the book covers seventeen locations in Central Florida where you can fly fish from land. As I was reading of these locations, I was thinking to myself of other locations I know of that have like features. I’m sure you can think of others in your area.
After having read this book, I now have the desire to try out some of the bodies of fresh water just a few blocks from my house. I think you might also.
The book sells for $9.95 and is available here