Just returned from our annual spring trip to the keys. As usual, we spent hours in the shallow water trying to convince tarpon to eat our flies. I’ve got an elevated respect for guys like Honson and Collin and the Florida guides and recreational anglers who are feeding these fish on a regular basis…this is not an easy game. We endured countless rejected shots from ocean swimmers, but it is worth the price of admission to watch them stream by the boat in clear water. Not to mention, I feel like we are learning a little more about these awesome fish with every failed attempt…which is really what it is all about. Fortunately, there’s always a tarpon around willing to eat an artificial lure or a live mullet at a bridge…allowing us visitors a chance to put some fish in the air before they make it up to the Carolinas. Looking forward to next time.
If you can find a day that’s not windy or storming to get out and fish the Indian River or Mosquito Lagoon, then the fishing should be pretty good. Schools of redfish are still around and with the water temps warming up a bit, more singles should scatter the flats which I prefer to fish rather than large schools.
Lots of big sea trout are still lurking the sandy areas and have been taking well presented artificials and flies really well. I’ve been impressed with the numbers of big sea trout that I’ve seen this year.
Don Thomas – a well respected author, outdoor journalist, and photographer from Montana is a doing a piece on the Mosquito Lagoon for a couple fly fishing magazines. Here he displays a smaller fish that beat about 5 bigger fish to the fly, it was crazy watching them fight over it. His wife Lori took some great shots this day. To learn more about Don visit his site: www.donthomasbooks.com
…and something a little creative using Alissa’s eyes as the main subject.
-Capt. Willy Le
This is not fishing related but it’s definitely photography related so I figure I would share with you guys.
Yesterday I had a chance to work with physique class competitor Britney. She is 10 days away from her competition and is at about 10% bodyfat.
Much respect for her dedication. Besides training almost daily she gave up a lot of social life as well as being forced to eating plain chicken and broccoli for almost every meal for like a few months.
Since this was my first studio physique shoot I did a little research. The key is to have a dark to black background that is not lit. Lighting was to be from the sides to create higher contrast of the muscles. The only thing I did not have a was hair(over head) lighting.
Britney is very athletic and did a great job with the poses.
Here are a few of shots I got from the two hour shoot.
Cold front…these two words are especially troubling as you are packing for your South Florida fishing trip. However, we remained optimistic that the wind wouldn’t blow 25mph, and that the temperature wouldn’t take a dive, and some straggler tarpon would ultimately hang around. Yeah right…I think it was the coldest week in the glades since the big freeze a couple years ago. Sure it made fishing tough…and prompted the tarpon evacuation…but we made the best of it. My friends Honson and Shafter put us on some fish and gave us an awesome introduction to the park. Caught my first snook on a DOA airhead, jumped a big tarpon, and covered some ground in one of the prettiest places on earth. Totally satisfied and grateful for the experience.
My first snook ever…not a monster by any means…but a snook! We used the new DOA airheads quite a bit this weekend. I like how they suspend in the water column and hang out right in the fish’s face. I’m thinking these will be great in the Lowcountry marsh.
We were fortunate enough that Honson still had the new 2014 Maverick HPX-V 17 in tow. Honson, Perry, and I put the boat through its paces this weekend and I’m impressed with the improvements and modifications Maverick has made to this boat. There’s more bow space, a circular live well centered on the back deck, immaculate wiring, and other improvements. Due to the weather, we were forced to cross some nasty chop in open water and the boat handled extremely well. As a Maverick owner, I’ve been dreading the day my yamaha 2-stroke 90 kicks the bucket, largely due to the lack of replacement options. After seeing the way the F70 performed, my fears have subsided…I think Honson got 42mph out one point this weekend.
Hats off to the Blue Moon Expeditions crew…they really put on a first class experience. They cooked three SOLID meals per day and provided us a unique opportunity to remain in a remote location for multiple days of fishing.
My daughter Jasmine Ann Le aka “Jazzy” was born Dec. 6th 2012 in Cocoa Beach, FL. She is amazing! I am looking forward to my journey in fatherhood and teaching Jazzy everything I know about the Ecosystem, the Ocean, Respect, Compassion, Simple living, being Positive, and maybe even poling a skiff so old dad can get some bow time
Ok, enough with the Awwwwws, let’s talk fishing.
The Fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River has been really good these past few weeks probably because of the picture perfect weather that we’ve been having here on the East Coast of Florida. Redfish are happily grouped up, aggressive, and ready to eat a well placed fly or lure. Water level is high so you won’t be seeing much tailing action in most areas, but with the gin clear water we have and a good pair of polarized glasses, you can easily spot fish to make a casts to.
Medium to large Sea Trout can be found in the sand holes laid up waiting for something to eat. These fish are extra alert, so keep your distance if you see one and make the farthest possible cast to your target. The hard part is getting your fly or lure in the water without spooking them, if you can get past that point, you have a good chance of catching that fish.
Jorge and his wife Lauren were visiting from Miami and decided to spend a day fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon. This was Laurens first sight fishing experience and Jorge was pretty happy to have her witness the fish charging and smashing the D.O.A. CAL Shadtails.
A couple good buddies and fellow guides from Miami came up to fish the Mosquito Lagoon for a change. Capt. Honson Lau and Capt. Jeremy Alderman both run Purple Isle Fly Fishing down in the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park. We had a windy day with tough light, but these guys know what they are doing and caught plenty of fish including Honson’s biggest Trout on fly to date. We estimated it to be around 32″ and 9 or 10lbs.
Most of you have some time off to get out on the water to do some fishing over the Holidays. If so, good luck, be safe, and if you plan on fishing the Mosquito Lagoon, please grab a brochure that are at the ramps and see where you can or can’t run your motor. There is a Pole and Troll only zone that will be marked in the brochures, be careful not to run in those zones. There are shallow sand bars, underwater debris, and most importantly, fellow fisherman that are trying to sneak up on fish in those zones, so please have courtesy to others and obey rules. Here is a link to map of the Pole/Troll areas: http://www.fws.gov/merrittisland/Images/Mosquito_Lagoon_Map.jpg
Happy Holidays everyone!
This weekend I got invited up to hang with some hunting friends of mine up in Chiefland Florida. Hunting is something I do not do. Besides the fact that I’m not really into it, I just do not have time to add another hobby right now. However, I would love to get this opportunity to get some wild life photos to share with you guys.
This is the property I was on… obviously the Florida location. www.talltine.com
Armed with my 400mm 2.8, and 2 camera bodies I was ready to shoot something different. The 400mm is a lens I rarely use due to the bulk and risk involved in carrying it around. It pretty much stays home for the most part. However it comes this time as I know it will be low light and I needed to get really close.
After picking my friend Krista up from Orlando, the 2 hour drive to the Chiefland was uneventful. Well if you count the worst BBQ I ever ate at a non event. We met up with rest of the crew, Gray, Go, and Diedra at the hunting grounds.(Gray’s place).
The place was cool. It was an old rustic Florida cracker home out in the middle of no where. Though fully modernize with fridge, hot cold running water, ac etc, they made it point to keep the look as authentic as possible down to the old tub, and types of plates they had. The place slept 6 quite comfortably. After a night cap of vodka tea Bo and Deidra forced up on us, it was time to get some rest.
The next morning Gray dropped me off. I got into a blind with all my gear around 730am. I manage to get a few photos of a buck and a couple of does. This was slow according to Gray. By 10am everything pretty much stopped. Gray tells me they were just not moving that morning.
We took a break and did some breakfast at the local eats. A nap ensued and we came back out around 330pm. This was when they decided to move. Bo and Diedra got two kills on a bow and I got some cool shots that evening, though with my camera instead.
I got more shots of deer as well as a flock of Osceola turkey to show for me efforts.
This guy was a big dog but I had no light. 6400 iso.
Sitting in that blind it was quite lonely but my Iphone was my friend. I put that sucker in silent mode, answer emails, text and shot images to instagram and fb while I wait. This made for the three to 4 hours sitting in one spot passed quite nicely. I even got some cool video clips on the iphone of some deer and turkey really close to me.
I will have to back to get more shots and hope to get an “epic” one as well as the spring time when the Turkey are in full strut!
This is the property I was on… obviously the Florida location.
Having a hard time telling November goodbye – the fishing has been pretty damn good. But being that it was 78 degrees in South Carolina on December 3rd, I’m optomistic about the month ahead. One of the coolest things I’ve noticed this week is the number of migratory birds we’ve got hanging around for how warm it is – we had a pair of green wing teal follow us around spooking redfish the better part of the afternoon one day. Why is it when you are hunting ducks you end up with redfish tailing in the decoys and when you are fishing you have teal swimming along with your boat?
Pardon the lame grip-and-grin photo, but this fish was kind of cool…even more so because I haven’t had a heck of a lot of bow time since the girls were born. Saturday I take my father in law fishing (his first time on a skiff or redfishing) and throughout the day he is catching fish but won’t give up and about letting him pole the boat. Now I’m not letting the father of my wife fall off the platform into the oysters, so I refused every request. I turned him down all day and then at the end of the day he starts pushing the boat along with my stick it anchor…I’m like what are you doing man…and he says get your fly rod and get up there. Sure enough he poles me into position with the stick it anchor and I stuck a couple on fly. Won’t ever forget that. Thanks Ronnie!
Here’s my father in law’s fish…sight casted all on his own.
The Peace-man trying to decide whether to turn back around or head home to kid duty…
Capt Jay Nelson
Here is a cool little video that a client from NY made from a Mosquito Lagoon trip he booked with me back in April of 2011. Little did either of us know that the photos that I took that day would get him on the cover of the 2012 Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing Regulations Magazine! Sergio Diaz is also a great fly angler and has been down a couple more times since that day to land his first Redfish on fly with me. Enjoy!
Fall/Winter is my favorite time of year to go out of town and experience fisheries outside of my own. One special place I always look forward to travelling to this time of year is the Mosquito Lagoon. In the interim of dropping my skiff off to get work done and picking up my buddies finished skiff from the area, my buddy Jeremy and I found a good opportunity to get together with Capt. Willy Le (http://nativeflycharters.com) and sneak out for a couple of days in the “goon.”
The ride to the launch destination was a scenic one different from what we are used to in South FL.
Chilly morning rides and blue bird skies in the backdrop made for great expectation for the days of fishing ahead. With great conditions, experienced fly rodders, and the right tools for the artisan; we set out to stalk redfish and trout in some anorexic depths. Can you catch fish with other tools? Sure, but we preferred to use high end tools available to us such as comfortable sun gloves, UV-protecting clothing, high modulus graphite fly rods, technical skiffs, and advanced light weight push poles to make our pursuit a little more comfortable.
We never found the redfish willing to tail these last couple of days but there were plenty of laid up and slow cruising fish that the sun was willing to reveal to us. Moments of good visibility would overcome the 20kt breeze climbing over the small clusters of islands that make up part of the Lagoon.
We encountered many scapes different from that we are used to. They were different from what we are used to seeing in Biscayne and Florida Bay. The wildlife and birds had different attitudes on their own. It was a familiar but different part of the world for those of us who call the Purple Isle our home waters.
And one of the highlights of fishing in the Lagoon is the opportunity to sight fish giant seatrout up in the shallows. As far as fishing goes, this is something we don’t have back at home. The level of difficulty to sight fish a big weary gator trout on a fly rod is somewhat equivalent to the challenge of fishing for big Islamorada bonefish. I managed to catch my biggest seatrout on fly this trip. The epic bite from this behemoth as I slid an olive SS Permit crab fly over it’s head was more memoriable and impressive then the size of the fish itself. What an amazing fishery.
When sight fishing is a little less then great down south, I highly suggest looking towards our neighbors to our north and sampling the great fishery offered by the Mosquito Lagoon. Thanks to Capt. Willy Le for having us. Great times are had as always….
I’ve been boatless now for a week but far from fish-less. Stay tuned…
I have been to the Bahamas a total of 2 times. One time to the fall in Andros the the other time was to Long Island Key in the spring. Both of these trips the weather was horrible for the post part. 20-35mph winds, over cast skies and at times raining. So when we schedule the Salty Fly Bahams for the Island of Abaco I figure the third time must be the charm for good weather.
Then the super storm/hurricane Sandy appears and started to head our way. On the route to the northeast the went right through the Bahamas. I was a bit worried but I also know of all the people that can handle hurricanes the Bahamian people were one of the most prepared for it.
With a week before the tournament and everyone that was going was calling or texting me with their concerns. I told them the Bahama waters gets cleaned up in 48 hours from storms and not to worry. Of course I wasn’t 100% but we made a few phone calls and everything was a OK.
I made the trip there a day early to ordinate the event. I was in Montana the week before so I had a few things to do before leaving. One was picking the Tournament shirts from Redzone. Jay was cool enough to meet me on the interstate so I would not be late for my flight down in Fort Lauderdale. At the parking garage I was met with a courier to pick up the G.Loomis NRX 7wt for one of the main prizes. As you can tell that day was a hectic day.
Once on the ground the only formality was going through customs. Walking outside they had taxi’s with a big Salty Fly Bahamas sign awaiting us.
After the check it at the Abaco Beach Resort I walked into my room which by US hotel standards was massive. The place has balcony, king size bed, AC, bar sink, coffee maker, and satellite TV. Best of all however was the free WI-FI which was faster than the free Wi-Fi I get in the states. It seems crazy I know. This means I can keep up to date, deal with emails and social media etc.
The view from the rooms.
The next day everyone arrived and checked into the their rooms. The scheduled dinner consist of a 4 course meal consisting of appetizer, soup, main dish and desert. Conch fritters was the appetizer what else right? The main dis was chicken and fish followed by key lime pie for the desert. All this while going over the plans for the next day.
After the dinner and captain’s meeting everyone rolled out to the tiki bar to have a few more drinks before calling it a night.
6am was the call for breakfast where everyone got to order of the Salty Fly menu. 7am we loaded the boats and off we go looking for bonefish in the Abacos.
The Fishing was excellent. Every stop were made the bone fish were there. Now getting to eat was a different story. It can be a bit frustrating when you come across fish and not able to get them to eat your fly. The fishing was great the catching was tough however. Brian Sawyer was the bigger winner the Friday catching the most fish and nice 8lb bonefish.
Photo I got while snorkeling the nearby flats
The catered road side lunch was awesome. A car actually met us up at the near by flats, pulled out the umbrella and served us gourmet sandwiches.
When we got back and down a few Kalik(the local beer) we sat to have dinner and discuss tomorrow’s plan. The lobster dinner was delicious
Though Brian was the man on Friday Kevin Smith took the win on Saturday when it counted landing three bonefish on fly via wading to take the gold.
Overall the bonefish were plentiful but at times getting them to eat was tough. A few of the guys took a 1/2 day trip the next day and got 10 bonefish each before having to be back at the airport by noon. At one time I had dozens of tailing bonefish around me and saw lots of schools. I just did not capitalize on my hook ups. That is how fishing goes at times.
After the day’s fishing we headed over to a near by island called Hope Town. The area where everyone goes to do some surfing and also houses the oldest working manually operated light house.
At the top of the oldest working manual light house in Hope town.
awesome surfing beaches are also in Hope Town.
That evening it was time to relax. We hit the near by restaurants and down some adult beverage to celebrate a successful event. Curl tails (awesome plantain’s encrusted grouper) and Snappa’s were the two places of note.
The classic blurry celebration photo
The group shot on celebration night at the Curly Tails restaurant
The locals were friendly enough to snap our group shots
This was an excellent trip and with the best amenities I’ve had fishing the Bahamas. If you’re looking to get to the Bahamas to do some great bonefish but do not want to be totally remote you should look into the Abacos. We are already talking to the lodge to make plans to revisit.
If you’re interested in joining shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
The last trip cost $1099.00 for a 3 days stay at the Abacos Beach Resort, the price included flights, meals, hotel stay and fishing. We fly in on Thursday and fly out on Sunday.
Once we nailed down the details I will email it to people that are interest.