Winter time is a great time for sight fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon. Although it does not quite feel like winter here in Florida yet, the Redfish are starting to act like it is. The water has cleaned up a lot since last month and the fish are starting to tail and mud rooting for crustaceans on the shallow flats.
This past Wednesday I fished with Adam Compton who is maintaining a skiff for his buddy that is stationed in Afghanistan. The skiff is a Maverick HPX-Micro which is very similar to my Maverick HPX-Tunnel but with slight differences. The Micro is the lightest skiff in the Maverick line with a max outboard rating of 50hp. The one we took out was powered with a Yamaha 40HP 4-Stroke, and performed extremely well. It has a soft ride running through chop, it ran in inches, and poled everywhere my Tunnel skiff can go. I was pretty impressed with what it can do, especially how light it felt while poling.
photos courtesy of www.maverickboats.com
Adam and i caught fish in skinny backwaters to windy open flats this day. All the fish caught were single tailers or mudding/tailing in groups of 6-10 fish. After catching a few on spinning gear and the fly rods, the wind picked up and we opted to fish with only spin gear. Adams soft plastic baits kept getting blown off the fish by the wind so I decided to tie on a D.O.A. Softshell Crab. This bait sinks straight to the bottom and buries in the grass like a real crab would do, it seemed to work great on the fish that had their face deep in the grass/mud and was easier to cast and control in the windier conditions. Once the D.O.A. Crab landed next to the fish, they engulfed it.
There are plenty of fish to catch in the Mosquito Lagoon right now, it will only get better as the water gets cleaner. Redfish will start to school in larger numbers and the Black Drum should be showing up in huge schools as well. Time to get on the vice and tie your favorite crustacean patterns!
Capt. Willy Le
So this past father’s day I was invited out to fish with Jon Chapman and his brother in law Geoff. Geoff happens to live close to me and I’ve actually met him a couple couple times. Since I have never fished with either of these guys, I figure it was a great way to kill a couple hours and network a bit.
Jon runs the Facebook fan page for Dupont Registry and it as master at growing the fan base. I believe he told me he grew the page from a couple thousand to over 40,000 fans in about a year. That is quite impressive in my book. He also writes for Bradenton.com, which printed the article about the sword fish on the beach.
We decided to fish the bridges for pompano to make it an easy day. With a 24′ boat and a tower it definitely was not as easy to maneuver as the 17′ Ranger. But besides dodging a few low bridge sections the boat did surprisingly quite well.
The bite was slow and steady with lots of pin fish and grunts on the end of our line. Occasionally one of us would hook a black drum that gave a tug. Sea trout, silver trout, and even a small cobia. We ended up catching tons of fish but absolutely zero pompano go figure.
By lunch time we packed it in to have lunch and called it and easy day on the water. These guys were fun to fish with and we excellent fisherman. I will definitely have to get out again.
All photos shot on the Sony NEX-5 and besides the gold rush for the cobia all the fish were caught on the pompano jigs.
[amazon_link id="B003MPWBB6" target="_blank" ]Sony Alpha NEX NEX5K/B Digital Camera with Interchangeable Lens (Black)[/amazon_link]
I got out with Alonso and Richard the other day for a couple hours to mess around with the Bay Black drum. Though we hooked a few we only landed one. Not that these things are tough to land. There are so many of them that the lines some times gets broken off , you hook the fish in bad place or even accidentally snag one. Lots of people out there so we stayed out there only until 11am and called it a good morning session.
I haven’t done any HDR edit in a while so here was a good chance.
If you want to learn more about HDR go here:
As you may know we’re putting together the Salty Fly, fly fishing tournament here in the Tampa area. This is the first one and it is already the largest Fly only tournament in Florida that I know of.
It is coming up this Saturday Feb 26th so as you might guess I’ve been pretty busy getting everything done. If are in the tournament please go read the latest update.
Saltyshores Stickers that has been ordered the last couple weeks have been sent out.
- Tyler G.
- James R.
- Jason S.
- Shafter J.
Some events and tournament around the corner:
Tampa Outdoor Expo 2011: The best outdoor/boating/fishing show in West Central Florida. If you have to go to one fishing/boat show this year in Tampa this is it.
Friday, March 4th 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. FREE FRIDAY!
Saturday, March 5th 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 6th 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It’s the Outdoor’s Expo 20th Anniversary!
Fishing, Boating, Archery, Hunting, Kayaking, and More
Over 150 Vendors
Friday is FREE Admission
Saturday and Sunday: Admission is $8.00 for age 13 and up
Age 12 and under are FREE
For more information please visit www.TAMPAOUTDOORSEXPO.COM
The Drake Fly fishing film tour is coming to Tampa on April 7th 2011
Flint Creek is hosting a party before hand with lots of raffle prizes(more on this when they send me the list) and selling tickets.
For Cities near you:
Tournaments coming up.
Don’s Bait and Tackle tournament March 12th 2011 (Miami Area)
Florida Flatsfishing Association, LLC
The 2011 Back Country Schedule
FLFA/Back Country Artificial
Only #1 – March 4 / 5
FLFA/Back Country DST Tourney
March 25 / 26
FLFA/Back Country Artificial
Only #2 – April 15 / 16
Saturday, I got my friend Hank to get out and fish with me for a few hours. Besides trying to scout around for some fish for the Salty Fly, we ran into a pod of Black drum roaming the flats. We hooked 4-5 on DOA Cal Shad tail but only manage to land one for the photo. I pulled out the fly rod to give it a go and got an eat on the third cast. We fought the beast for 15minutes only to have it come off 15′ away from the boat.
The next day was spent on the River with my friend Brad snook fishing. He tossed the fly around while I stuck with the DOA Cal Shad tail. He hooked a couple but could not manage to land one. I hooked about 8 of them and got a couple to the boat. Lots of snags to be had and I sure took advantage of it. I probably lost 8 jig heads to the logs. uuugh!
This Labor day I took a couple guys out fishing. When I use to be into mountain bike I use to hang with these guys all the time. Paul and Eric are still into mountain biking but I have fallen way off the wagon. My weight is up about 30lbs from back in the day and the bikes are collecting dust. Fishing and photography just hasn’t left much time for much these days.
Since I have not fished out of my boat in a couple weeks I really didn’t know what was going on out there. Tampa bay is a great fishery but you still need to be on your toes to optimized you time on the water. The weather was good today but the tide wasn’t so hot until the afternoon. Since current plans wouldn’t allow and afternoon session we had to with what we had.
One of the cool thing about running a bay boat is the comfort factor and range you get with it. If you’re not planning on fishing skinny skiff waters all the time I would skip the “flats” boat and look at bay boats. Back in the day I thought a baby boat would be too limited. That is until I started shooting photos for the show Saltwater Experience. Tom and Rich were catching everything and everything down in the keys in bay boats. The only time we would use the skiff at all was going after tailing bonefish. This kind of open my eyes to all the possibilities of fishing out of bay boats.
My plan for the day was to gas up the Canyon Bay and do some exploring at first light. The first spot was fishing oyster bars for redfish. We didn’t want to give this area too much time as had a long run ahead of us. A nice trout and dink snook we hooked using DOA CAL jigs before we moved off the flats. We ran 15 miles across the bay to fish the bridges for some pompano and perhaps snappers.
With the slow incoming tide and heat picking up, the bite could definitely be better. Only excitement was a pod of ladyfish that kept us entertain for about 5minutes. One thing about the slack tide in Tampa bay this time of year is you see cobia and at times black drum tailing on the pilings. We did not see any cobia but we definitely saw tailing back drum on the pilings.
We trolling motor over and changed out lures. I had pompano jigs on at the time, I wanted to put some stink on there. I dug out my packs of GULP and plunk one across the bow. It didn’t take long to hook up. We ran out of GULP and started to use the DOA CALs and they worked just fine. At one time we even had a triple hookup.
The guys were pumped. After a while though it was getting unbearably hot. We left the drums and decided to do some flats fishing. That only resulted in one trout before we decided to packed it in to get some lunch. I don’t usually eat breakfast when I get out and fish in the mornings so hunger was kicking in.
My favorite place to eat on the water in my area is Circles on the water in Apollobeach. The place is laid back and the food is good. Special of the day was a pasta dish. I don’t know they call it but had chicken and shrimp, sundry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, and mushrooms. That dish was only $10, and we washed it all down with a bud light. (Eric had the fancy bear of Killian’s Red) We were back at the house by 1pm. It was a good Labor day.
note to self: Get on a diet asap and get back to do some mountain biking!
Photo notes: most of the shots are back lit, (you can see from the tail of the fish). I used the built in flash to give it a little pop.
Big Bend Kayak Report
5 – 13 to 5 – 16 -2010
Day 1 “Anticipation”
Wow, where do you start when you spend three days in paradise? I guess you start at the beginning. My good friend Dave Robinson had planned a camping trip to the Big Bend area for some time, I met him on the road in Crystal River and we formed our two vehicle caravan the rest of the way to our campsite. A couple other friends, Tom and Justin would be joining us later.
So after getting the campsite setup, Dave and I were off. Less than a mile and thirty minutes from the launch, we were on the fish. We working a small cove and I spotted this tail pop up. Since I was shooting pictures I called Dave over. For several anxious minutes nothing happened. I just knew Dave was thinking, “This guy is nuts, there’s nothing over here” when all of a sudden I heard his jaw drop.
On the second cast Dave dropped it right in front of the “Big Ugly” and it was on.
The rest of the afternoon it was one tail after another.
We poked around, never really getting out of sight of the launch, looking for the other species on our list, Redfish.
Day 1 comes to an end.
Day 2 “Un-Announced Breakfast Guest’s”
Day 2 dawned and since we were dealing with a low tide, (low tides up here equal not enough water for a kayak) we decided to have some breakfast before heading out. Our buddy Tom had arrived the following night, so we were just getting ready to grub out when our guest’s showed up. Now we had been warned about them before hand, but these guests almost ended up as part of the meal.
After breakfast we arrived at the launch to find someone has stolen all the water. No worries. Hoping Windfinder.com would be right about the winds dying down later, we shoved off.
Finding some relief from the leeside of an island, Dave took the opportunity to break out the fly rod. His goal of taking a redfish on fly was not achieved this trip, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Once the tide had come up, we went back to an area we hit the day before and the reds were there.
Dave with a beautiful multi-spot redfish.
All three of us had really good luck with 1/4oz Johnson Silver spoons. Not too much later our ole friends who we had to come to refer to as the “Big Uglies” showed back up.
Dave set up on one and waited for the perfect opportunity.
Another great day came to an end.
This area is calm country; they farm them just off shore, so we just had to have some for dinner.
Day 3 “Going to School”
Dustin has arrived the night before, so today we would be following him around to a new area. This is Dustin’s home waters and he has the place dialed in. So off the four of us went on a 10 mile paddle in search of more of the same.
The tide was really low as we headed out, once we came back it had come way up and the area looked completely different.
Dustin is one hell of a fly fisherman and he did not disappoint.
He’s pretty handy with a bait caster too. While I was chasing more tailing “Big Uglies”, he was catching them with a spinner bait.
I had no luck what so ever with the black drum, but I did manage a redfish or two. These are really nice fish, they hit hard, are fat as a cow and just don’t quit.
Tom getting in on the redfish action.
Dustin with an absolute pig.
Like all good things, this day came to end way too soon. Fellows, I enjoyed it. That’s a special place and we will most assuredly go back. null
Spring break had finally come and I took a week off to log some days on the water. The initial plans were to spend 3 days down in the lower Keys but due to circustances, that plan had to be put on hold for now. Instead, I chose to do something I had wanted to do in a long time. In 5 days straight, I fished in 4 different locations throughout Florida in 4 different style Maverick Mirage skiffs. Fishing had it’s ups and downs, but company was great, the overall experience was great, and I had a blast doing this. Upon introduction of the Mirage series of skiffs, Maverick Boat Co. revolutionalized the shallow water fishing industry. In 2000, Maverick introduced the HPX series of Mirage skiffs. These new hulls, floated shallower, rode drier, and were dead quiet. The HPX-Tunnel introduced stealth with the ability to float shallow, run in water once through too shallow for anything but a jon boat, zero hull slap. The 17 HPX-V allowed for anglers to take advantage of shallower draft while still providing a dry smooth ride in the rough and of coarse, zero hull slap. The 15 HPX-V, HPX-Micro, and 18 HPX-V later joined the line of Mirage line of skiffs and continue to raise the bar. I got to fish all 4 models in the last 5 days.
Skiff: Maverick Mirage HPX-Tunnel
Desitnation: Titusville, FL
My buddy Will invited me to spend a day fishing on his HPX-Tunnel up in Titusville so I took advantage of the situation and got to get out on the water with him for a few hours before I had to head back down to pick up my skiff at Maverick Boat Co. and head back home. We met up at dawn and got an early start, making our way through the shallows to get to our destination. The Mirage tunnel skiff handled the Lagoon chop fairly well and got us into some real shallow water where we would start our search. The sun was still hidden behind the clouds so we waited for the water to warm up, blind casting some shorelines in the meanwhile. Blind casting was not too fruitful so we made our way to the flats a little early to wait out the tailers. Once the sun broke through the clouds, the water warmed up, and the light revealed to us a couple of big red tails flags waving in the distance. With 9wt in hand, I tied on a simple modified redfish slider and had a few refusals before coming tight to a few smaller redfish. The day then revealed to us something different. Big grey tails began popping up and the through of being cold and throwing at reluctant oversized redfish had left my mind in a hurry. Being from South FL, we don’t get many opportunities to fish tailing black drum. We approached the first of many and this fish ate my redfish slider. After landing that big drum, we caught several more on a variety of flies ranging from a black merkin crab to black rattle shrimp flies. These drum aggresively attacked the rattle shrimp. It was pretty amazing. My buddy Will is fairly new to the fly game and managed to catch his first and second black drum on fly. Screams and high fives defined the degree to Will’s new fly fishing addiction. Time ran out and we left the fish tailing for the next group of dedicated anglers to find. This was definitely a cool experience neither of us will ever forget. I then headed home and made a stop at Maverick Boat Co. to bring my skiff back home after a minor nip/tuck.
Day 2 & 3
Skiff: Maverick Mirage 18 HPX-V
Desination: Key Largo and Florida Bay
My buddy Jeremy picked up a new 18 HPX-V with a Yamaha F115 last weekend so we spent the next couple of days tweaking the boat, testing it under real life conditions, and trying to get this boat dialed in properly. Unfortunately, the TRO model prop we have on this motor is not the right prop for the job so we are still waiting on different props to test out. Rest assured, several props are on their way and this boat will be dialed in. We will have more technical info for this setup shortly. Our first day on the water was rained out so we just took the boat out to run around Blackwater sound in Key Largo to make sure everything was in top order. The weather finally gave us a break the next day and we were able to take the 18 HPX out that afternoon for her maiden fishing voyage. We started out fishing East of Flamingo and had a few shots at some very big redfish that were reluctant to eat any of our offerings. From here, we boogeyd out to the oceanside of the Keys and paid a visit to one of flats where bonefish have taken residence. Jeremy managed to hook his first bonefish but the fish ran away from the boat first filling the air with the sound of the screaming drag. Then the bonefish turned and screamed towards the boat. My buddy reeled as fast as he could but could not keep up as the fish ran under the boat and spit the hook. The wind had picked up and the clouds rolled in so we headed back in staying bone dry and comfortable as we ran through a 2ft chop. Earlier in the day, while poling around in some real skinny stuff, I was amazed again to see how this boat performs on the pushpole. The 18 HPX drafted significantly shallow as we poled through some real skinny water. To put things into perspective, the only part of the push pole submerged in the water was the foot. It had to be no deeper then 8 inches and the 18 HPX was not even touching the bottom. When we had hit a hump no deeper then 6 inches, the 18 HPX was a breeze to push off it. The effort to push this boat was no more then pushing my 17 HPX-V with F90 but the stability when poling around in rough water and heavy winds was second to none. This is truley a remarkable poling skiff with an amazing hull. I will likely find myself in one in the near future.
Skiff: Maverick Mirage HPX-Micro
My buddy Jason also picked up a new Maverick Mirage this last week. For the type of shallow water fishing he plans to do and the long range runs out west, Jason opted for the HPX-Micro. With the inevitable implementation of the pole and troll zones that are to be enfored at Flamingo in the near future, the ability to run in shallow water will not as big of a factor as the ability to pole easily for longer distances, float shallower, and be a ble to take to handle running in a slight chop. The HPX-Micro fits this bill perfectly. The skiff floats in extremely shallow water. We poled around in water with the tips of grass protruding from the surface and slid along with ease as we poled for great lengths chasing down big schools of redfish pushing across the flats. The ability to be able to pole fast and set up on these fish is vital to success. Jason and I managed to feed countless numbers of redfish on a variety of lures and flies. I must admit, even having caught plenty of redfish on fly in my past, there is still nothing cooler then watching a big school of redfish dogpile on top of each other to try to eat a topwater plug. After being taken in by the cool ad I’d seen in a fishing magazine, I bought one of Bomber’s new Badonkadonk ( I also liked the name) topwater plugs and fed it to a bunch of redfish today. The fishing this day was spectacular as we plucked doubles off of each of the different schools of fish. Not only were there large numbers of fish in each school, but we encountered at least a dozen different schools of redfish up in the real skinny stuff. With the water continuing to warm the sight fishing opportunities on the flats is returning to the way it should be. Fishing can only get better from here. On the way back to the ramp, the wind had kicked up pretty bad but the Micro took to the chop surprisingly well and we stayed dry. The only thing I would change on the Micro is the engine HP rating. I would love to see a F60 or F70 on the rear of this boat. The F40 performed nicely and fuel economy is second to none, but the ability to scoot around faster would be nice. I must say though that even with an F40, the Micro was able to jump on plane in less then a boat’s length and with very little squat once tabs were applied. I also got to test one of Carbon Marine/Loop’s new push poles. These poles are amazingly stiff and light weight. I did not find a problem at all poling it in both shallow or deep water. The Carbon Marine Loop push poles are pretty impressive and priced unbeleivably cheaper then the Stiffy poles. After having used the Loop push pole, I highly recommend one for the absolute best value per performance.
Skiff: Maverick Mirage 17 HPX-V
Location: Key West and The Marquesas
During my 5th and final day on the water, I decided to take my own 17 HPX-V out to fish as south as I can go. Jeremy, David McCleaf, and I headed down to Key West to throw crabs and flies at Permit. Jeremy had never caught nor had a shot at a permit before but this day we produced many shots. Our first few shots came off a strip bank where there we had shots at 3 big fish. One cast was dead on but the fish spooked and didn’t eat (welcome to permit fishing). Towards the end of the day, we decided to make the journey across Boca Grande channel and look for some permit over at the Marquesas. We had 5 more solid shots at the end of the day and Jeremy ended up hooking his first permit. The fish ran under the boat during the fight and somehow ended up breaking off. This was a heart breaker but we were very content with the amount of shots we had and the fish we hooked. The day was growing late and the wind was steadily picking up so we decided to head back. Running back was no walk in the park. We made our way across Boca Grande channel again but the wind and current had sped up this time creating a consistant 3ft chop with a 4 to 5 footer mixed in here and there. I had the skiff airborne several times but she felt solid running across the chop and brought us home dry, humbled, and in one peice. Boca Grande channel is a definitely a force to be reckoned with but having the right skiff for the crossing is a must. Once Jeremy gets his GPS installed, we are going to try taking the 18 across to the Marquesas. This time, I can perhaps hopefully capitalize on my first permit on fly.
Spring is finally here and I am absolutely THRILLED about the warmer weather and good fishing to come. Stay tuned… the next journey has just begun!!
Our outboards endure cold and rough cranking starts, following with the smoke filled air. It’s apparent that winter is here and old man winter has definitely brought his wrath upon South FL with record breaking near freezing temperatures. I sit at the ramp bundled up in layers upon layers of clothes in the AM sometimes wondering whether we are still in south Florida. Anyone who’s been following my bitching and moaning about the cold on Facebook is probably already sick of hearing about it. But for one last time… STOP WITH THIS COLD ALREADY… it’s been an entire month of SUCK!
It has been quite the chilly start to 2010. Lucky for us, the cool weather came progressively this year rather then just over night. I believe that most of the inshore fish had enough time to anticipate the cold, therefore taking whatever measures to acclimate to the cooling water temperatures. I was happy to see that the only cold aquatic death on the water I’ve come accross this year have only been a couple of sharks and a pelican, along with some dying grunts and snappers at the local ramp in the Keys.
With the cold weather, came a change in the type of fishing done to accomodate the conditions. Sight fishing has been far and few closer to Flamingo, with more opportunities further up north deep in the southern portions of the 10,000 Islands. Most of the fishing closer to home has been geared around soaking shrimp on jigheads in deeper water and in the many creek mouths that dot the SW coast. It’s been cold, but nevertheless, winter fishing has been as good as can be. Between all the steady creek fishing this time of year, I live for those moments when conditions allow me to break out the fly rod, make our way through small hidden creeks, plow through thick canopies, get to those hard to reach hidden waters and jump on a mud flat deep in the heart of the ENP backcountry to present flies to cruising reds and laid up snook. It’s good to know though, that if conditions don’t allow for this, I can always buy a couple dozen shrimp and take my anglers to one of the many creeks to catch redfish, black drum, snook, and sheepshead.
Until next time… is it Spring yet?