Pioneering Conservationist Aldo Leopold once stated “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” I recently read this in a few brief excerpts of Leopold’s commentary and gave it some worthy thinking.
Simply stated, those that continually immerse/educate themselves on temperamental ecosystems better have strong will and thick skin as the changes, albeit nominal and often not easily seen by the general public, typically are unsettling. South Florida, like many beautiful habitats, is sadly riddled with significant issues relating to responsible usage and general preservation efforts of our natural resources. Resource management and subsequent funding for it typically falls by the wayside of many other politically driven profits centers. A sad cycle of corking holes in the dam until it warrants itself unrepairable, then 10X the capital has to be allocated to fix it, meanwhile ecosystems have suffered.
It’s without question as an avid outdoorsman and father trying to raise kids whom roughly spend 75% of their time in the confides of concrete, outdoor exposure and conservation are naturally of the utmost importance to me.
no matter what side of the fence you sit, prioritizing what’s best for the environment in your daily choices as a consumer/voter can be difficult. Yet shameless choices can be seen every day and exploration of our greatest natural treasures can often be a truly sad affair…….
Of course the current “system” never meets everyone’s needs and regulatory decisions are often made by those who rely on uneducated deliveries of “qualified” data. Yet as no surprise to anyone, both political and regulatory decisions are influenced by those with deep pockets. Yet our elected “peers” continually misuse funds, and cut funding to nearly all agencies in charge of managing our irreplaceable national parks. While my knowledge is local, this issue is vast. However many Corporations and Non-profits are making strides to help were they can, after all without the resource they too are dead in the water (no pun intended). From Costa Del Mar, to Hell’s Bay Boatworks, to Patagonia, to Simms etc. ………many are playing a larger role in conservation efforts, they frankly have no choice yet oddly many company’s do not participate in such philanthropy.
Project Permit hosted by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and sponsored mainly by Costa Del Mar and the March Merkin Permit Tournament provides a glimmer of faith that fishing oriented companies might follow suit and stand behind reputable conservation oriented causes.
I assume this view has given anglers weak knees since sight fishing on the flats began………….
It always amazes me how impressionable young kids are, so I make a decent effort to explain the reasoning behind choices made on the water. Now, I am not immune to mistakes and have made many, but any advice I can provide to others, particularly my children, to not repeat is a win. One of my most favored reggae prophets once preached “don’t let your mistakes be the mistakes of your children”. This is a strong suggestion that sometimes gets lost with all the white noise of the daily grind.
keeping an eye out for this fishery is a cause I can stand behind with ease……………
at the end of the day, anyone lucky enough to bring one of these fish boat side provides enough of the “hype” to keep you coming back…………
“The world lives within us, we live within the world. By damaging the living planet we have diminished our existence.” (George Monbiot)
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Apparently I did not know this.. but 12 of the 19 IGFA Triple tail world record has came out of Canaveral Florida. I was informed of this fact when I had a chance to fish with Captain Scott Lum last week.
Scott loves triple tail fishing and at one time held an IGFA record himself. This time of yeah he consistently gets on the triple tail bite using shrimp pilchards and my favorite artificial lures.
It was a beautiful morning with a slight over cast skies. The wind was from the east which made it a bit rough on the Atlantic ocean side but it was definitely do able. Scott tells me he likes day like today. It keeps many people off the water and the fish just seems to bite better.
I met up with Scott and his friend Jessica a fun day of triple tail fishing. After he got some extra shrimp we helped him launch the 23′ Contender. I was glad were in a bitter boat versus a day boat on rough days like this. I have camera gear and definitely prefer to stay dry.
It didn’t take long before we started to get on fish. Scott rigged up a shrimp and I was used a Mission Fishin 3/4 oz jig head with a Savage Gear 3d shrimp. Scott keeps telling he likes lighter colors but I only had the darker avocado color on me.
After about 15 minutes the first fish came on board a nice keeper triple tail on my not so light Avocado colored 3d shrimp. I turned around and jokingly said “I’m showing you wrong on your home turf!”
The bite was very consistent and everyone started to catch some nice triple tails. A couple was caught on live shrimp and for the most part the artificial lures did much better for us.
The big difference for me came when I changed out to the 1/2 oz 3d Manic shrimp in the glow color. I must have caught 7 triple tail on it before loosing it to snag.
The biggest fish came in at 74 cm. We know this because we had an IGFA ruler on board. The current length record is 69cm. Yes I would have held the new IGFA triple tail length record except for one technicality. The length record is catch and release only and we kept the fish for dinner.
Overall we caught probably 20 triple tail this day. This day will go down as the best triple tail fishing I have ever had and they I almost had the IGFA length record.
Scott tells me the next couple months the triple tail fishing is quite consistent and that 74 cm is not uncommon to catch this time of year. I will definitely have to back and try again.
Here is a fun video I shot of the day’s fishing action.
Kent (of BLAF fame) and I took the opportunity to get out and fish this past Monday down in the west side of the Everglades aka Chokoloskee.
We are both owners of a Ranger Flats boat but we wanted to get in the back country so the Wingmaster Sandpiper 150 was the obvious choice.
Waking up the next morning to make the run we had breakfast at the local eatery. Most of the captains there said the fishing has been excellent which was a good great sign.
Most however has been fishing bait on the outside.
After about an hour run it did not take long for us to start getting hits on topwater. Unfortunately most top water blow ups was a swing and a miss.
After a few experimenting with new lures I switch to a white weedless jerk bait. The best combination we found was a white Logic Lure jerk bait and with a weighted Mustad Powerlock Hook.
The other lure that worked great was the Savage Gear 3D Manic shrimp. It was weedless and slow sinker which allow for it to hover right over the grass.
I was quite surprised how durable the shrimp was. I used one shrimp the entire trip but had to change out several of the jerk baits out. I was using the clear one bellow but I’m thinking about bringing the white version next time.
The bite was quite steady. We ended up catching about 30 snooks and 4 redfish through out the day. We ran about 50 to 60 miles and burn about 4 gallons of gas. You have to love small boats.
Everglades run video using a Rail Blaza camera mount on the Poling platform.
Flats Retro in Black and White
Here’s some images of shallow water marine fishing in the “simplicity” of black and white. The anglers, captains, lodges, and destinations are diverse: Captains Ricky Sawyer (Abaco, Bahamas), Jason Sullivan (Flamingo, Florida), Benny Blanco (Flamingo), Ralph Allen (Punta Gorda, Florida), Bob Branham (Biscayne Bay, Florida), Carl Ball (Biscayne Bay), Kyle Messier(Crystal River, Florida), Greg Dini (Hopedale, La.), Emir Marin (Ambergris Caye, Belize), Matt Hoover (Goodland, Florida), and Rob Munoz (Biscayne Bay). My friend Alan Williams is in the shot with Jason and the snook. The lodges and outfitters involved in some of these images are Cajun Fishing Adventures (Buras, La.), El Pescador Lodge (Ambergris Caye, Belize) and KingFisher Fleet (Punta Gorda).
In Praise of Peacocks
It would take hundreds of pages to review the stupendous success of peacock bass in South Florida-both it’s introduction and proliferation. The excellence of the fishery in the Sunshine State is such that it is no longer essential to travel to the Amazon to enjoy a truly viable fishery for this colorful battler. While South America boasts the largest specimens, Florida offers vast populations of good-sized fish that will challenge any flyfisher or light tackler. The following images were taken on trips with Captain Butch Moser of Delray Beach and land guide Hai Truong of Miami. Also pictured are Gus Montoya and the late Captain Ken Collette.
Today I decided to head out and do a little scouting my home waters of Tampa Bay.. ….. We just had a nice front came in with temperature in the 30’s. This might not seem too cold for many up north but for Tampa it is pretty darn cold especially for species like Snook.
I launched the boat at Bishop’s Harbor and did some fishing out front. It was somewhat dead, not a lot of bait around. All of the sudden we see a gigantic push coming out way. Some large dolphin were chasing a school of fish. We cast and cast in front and into the school but they wanted nothing to do with us. As they pass I realized they were school of a big 10 to 15lb jacks! I would have loved to get one but they were in no mood.
We moved to the back country started to spook redfish in pot holes…. this was no different than the jacks.. these fish even when we waded to them were very spooky and wanted nothing.
After being rejected again we moved even further back as the tide comes in. This time we find snook, big ones….. yup you guessed it.. again they wanted nothing. The water temperature must have been way too cold.
We decided to head in and we saw some bonnet head sharks on the sand flats. We didn’t have any bait and usually these things don’t eat artificial. I then remember I had some Savage gear crab and shrimp .. these things are 3D scanned and they look very very life like.
After learning to cast and do the proper presentation the sharks were totally fooled by these lures. We had lots of opportunity and landed 4 of the sharks sight fished on artificial which was very fun.
The key is be right in front of them about 2 to 3 feet. Once they see it fall they go crazy looking for it. These crabs have excellent action. I can’t wait to try the 1″ Manic Crab on a permit!
In Praise of Permit
Here are some images of the permit I’ve pursued, caught, and released in Florida, Mexico/Yucatan, Belize, Roatan, and Little Cayman Island. In my opinion, they are the planet’s cagiest flats fish when pursued on jigs and flies. Catching them on an artificial is something to be proud of. One of the highlights of my angling career is the release of nine- yes, nine !- permit in one day out of Belize River Lodge. This was documented by Guide Raul Navarette and Mike Heusner, who gave me the magic lure- a white 1/4 ounce Popeye skimmer jig. In balance, these were young eager, fiercely competitive fish in three schools of approximately one hundred fish. The other permit I am most proud of was the (now-EX) World record permit of 23 pounds 15 ounces on 4-pound test.
Star Date Jan 26th 2015, Tampa Florida (a little Star Trek Geek reference)
I tried to do some fishing Friday morning and I have to say after being out there for 3 hours and only a catching a micro snook I was quite disappointed.
I had figure before the Saturday front the fishing would be good, I was completely wrong. The lack of bait the lack of mullet in the area It was a tough morning.
This Sunday with the winds down I figure I would try some winter spots near the river. Again, it was virtually empty. It wasn’t too long ago I told you the snook were near their spring area but with the ever changing conditions and the mild winter they are moving in a very unpredictable pattern. Well at least that is my excuse.
We struggled with working mullet schools if we found them. I did manage to catch a decent trout and a rat red over some patchy grass pothole area.
I was tired of blind casting and not getting any bites. It was a sunny day for a change so I decided to relaunch in a area where the bottom would be sandy. This way if there were fish there at least I could see them. Seeing them makes me feel like I”m not casting in vain. After all rule number one of catching fish is “fish where the fish are at”
We loaded up the Sandpiper and relaunched about noon. This way the sun would be high and the visibility would be idea.
We ran to about 2′ of water and put the trolling motor down. I wasn’t concern about spook fish at this point, I just wanted to see them to build confidence. At last I would know we were not just casting to sand.
We started to spook a few fish so I put the trolling motor on low and worked areas that were 2′ to 3′ of water. Most of the fish we saw were very spooky and we had no chance.
A few did eat however which made up for the first part of the day.
What did they eat? We were using the Logic lure in gold body and black back. I tried a silver color and they did not like that at all. Using the 1/16oz worked best as the 1/4oz made too much of a splash.
After a few reds we lost the light and called it day about 3pm. All we saw were redfish, the snooks after this front, I believe have moved back towards their winter area.
Logic lure rigged weedless Gold body with black back soft plastic with a 1/16oz jig head was the lure of choice.
Using braid 10 to 15lb test will allow you to cast a good distance. I was using a 40lb leader but for reds you can use 20lb leader no problem.
One of the cool thing about a small boat is the ability to go fishing and not worry about dealing with the hassle of a large vessel. I mean loading it, gas, launching, and the worst part , cleaning it.
Since we did the Breathe like Fish apparel shoot on Saturday I had to deal with all media Sunday. This leaves little time to actually get to fish.
The sun was out the tides was good so I figure I would try to get out for a couple hours. I am still using the Sandpiper 150 by Wingmaster. This 14′ 8″ boat is easy to deal with and if I use a gallon of gas that day it was a long run. The boat gets 8 to 10 miles to the gallon.
With a larger boats I have to worry about where I could launch and where I could fish. This small boat I can float and fish almost anywhere there is a body of water. Launching on a dirt ramp on low tide? no problem.
Now to the fishing.
As you might know 2014 was the warmest year since we started keeping track of weather in 1878. If you are on the other side of the climate change stuff the fish seem to believe this as well.
I must report that if you fish Tampa bay, the snook are not in their winter areas. I saw lots of snook in the spring area and were very active.
I actually want it to be cold so the fish are more concentrated. For the big trout to show up where I live it also needs to be cold and that has not been the case.
Snooks are abundant however. I caught a few small snooks and even saw a tarpon rolled. We are in the middle of January it should be a few degrees colder.
Usually I do well on jigs this time of year but right now the suspending mirrordine has been working great as well as the jerk baits.
I only manage to be out there for about 2 hours but the bite was good. No big fish but I did see plenty around.
Get ready for an early spring guys.. the fishing should be good real soon.
If you want to know how to use the mirrordine.
I bet there is fish back there, exploring with the Sandpiper 150. Panic Shrimp by Savage Gear and Rules #74 rod
I don’t know about most fisherman but I waste a lot of time looking at google map when I look for places to fish. Much of the map show ponds and small canals in places with out aerial maps you would never know it existed.
I often wonder if there were fish back there. Much of the places are too far for a kayak to travel to. A boat would get you there but it would be too large to get through the tunnels.
Now that I have the Wingmaster Sandpiper 150 to use many of these places are very accessible. One I get there it’s narrow enough and draft skinny enough to explore.
Today I suppose to fish the powerplant to look for cobia but my buddy was hung over from a Christmas party.This gave me the opportunity to do some exploring instead. I also wanted test a couple new items. A new Rules #74 rod by Dan James Rod and a Savage Gear Panic Shrimp I had just picked up from Tampa Fishing Outfitters.
I had the Rule #74 rod rigged with a 2500 Ballistic and 15lb braid. I tied on 20lb leader with the Panic Shrimp. The action on these are awesome. The sink rate is nice and slow and legs and antennae wiggles as it sinks. I saw the at Icast and was impressed indeed.
I put the cooler on the bow to get better visibility and put the trolling motor on low and let the breeze push me at bit. The 2nd fish I saw, wham!, he smokes it… about a 24″ red. So far so good I’ld say.
I noticed the hook got dislodged so I moved it back. The rubber legs , body and and antennae was totally in tact. It is a more durable body than the regular plastics. It should be because two of these shrimp retails for $8.00.
After some photos and release I looked for more. The wind died down and rest of the fish I saw were very very very spooky. That was it for the redfish but I noticed every time I tried to cast with authority the hook would slide off again making for an erratic action.
Conclusion: Great action, seem to have no problem fooling fish, cast ok (does tend to helicopter), body is tough but hook issue might be a problem.
The Rules #74 synthetic cork rod grip was comfortable. I have tried the carbon ones, it tends to hurt my hands after long periods of casting(jigging) and slips badly when my hands is wet.
To me the action was medium fast, and the bend of the rod was a medium to medium light. At 7′ I find it fairly lightweight and the microwave guide seem to lessen the vibration making long days of casting more comfortable. Dan James Rod uses HMX blanks and the model I had was white. It does come with a hook keeper.
The rod will retail for just under $200.00. The rod is inline in quality and price as most rods I’ve used by many of the companies using the Microwave guides. This rod for me should be great for jig fishing up 1/4 oz jig heads.
With the bite dead decided to do some exploring places I could never get to. It’s either too far for a kayak or too narrow for boat. The Sandpiper 150 can fish where kayak fish and almost just as narrow. This was a perfect compromise exploration skiff.
After beating down bushes and dozens of spiders I manage to get a couple of small snooks in the back country. Nothing earth shattering but it beats casting to redfish that run away from you when you breathe.