It has become tradition for good friend Capt. Tim Mahaffey (www.flatshead.com) and I to take a day to pursue and attempt a 5 fish slam on fly that to my knowledge has not been documented in the past. These 5 species are the most sought after gamefish in Islamorada; Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Bonefish, and Permit. To achieve a feat like such would be the ultimate accomplishment, but to document this with professional cameras and a pro photographer will certainly raise the bar. Timing had to be perfect, the skiff had to be set up right, and the fly anglers on the skiff had to have their act together and be able to work well as a team poling and/or fishing.
Our tools: My Mercury 115ProXs powered Maverick 18 Mirage flats boat, a range of old school and new school G Loomis fly rods, lots of different flies, and lady luck.
With my good buddy Rick De Paiva tagging along to capture todays events, we headed off into the darkness of morning in search of silver. The day started off as planned with a 50lb Everglades tarpon to the boat for a quick photo, fly extraction, and safe release. The next species we would spend time on would be the elusive snook. Luckily, our first snooky looking hole held some small tarpon and a snook that was willing to eat a minnow fly. I fought the snook more carefully then I had fought any other snook I have ever hooked. With some luck, I kept the sub-slot snook out of the snags in the water and it finally came to hand. With two out of the way, we moved on to the venerable redfish. We poled the 18ft Maverick flats boat up onto a very shallow flat where the tide was bottoming out. The tide had not been right yet and the mood displayed by the fish were evident of this. It didn’t take long for the tide to turn over and the water to start moving again. Once this happened, our flat lit up with happy spotted flats waving about in a very civilized manner. We caught half a dozen redfish on the tail covered flat before moving off to find our 2 other species in Islamorada. It was difficult leaving so many fish but to catch our next two species, we had to race time and tide. Luckily, at 50mph+ we arrived where we needed to be right on time. While bonefishing, we had a quick shot at a pair of permit that didn’t seem interested in our offerings. Our bonefishing led us to find an area with better current flow. Once we found that, it yielded 4 bonefish shots, 3 fish hooked, and 2 bonefish landed. The toughest of the 5 species was the last challenge to complete our already epic day of fishing. We poled our way onto a flat that should hold permit only to have the red zone on the flat run over by a weekend angler in an Actioncraft with rods flying out the back of his poling platform rod holders and cuda tubes doing pinwheels. Disappointed at what had just occurred, we poled the rest of that flat and didn’t get that permit shot we needed. Coming this close to achieving the ultimate slam only means we should attempt this again another time. Perhaps our next attempt will be more rewarding, as if the day of fishing we just had wasn’t rewarding enough.
It has been a very short and violent spring this year. The harsh weather we experienced didn’t allow for many epic tarpon fishing days that were anything close to what we’ve experienced in the past 2 years. It wasn’t all that bad as we got the warm weather early and experienced some of the great summer time redfishing and bonefishing available to us. So I spent fewer days tarpon fishing this year and more days chasing the alternative from testing new DOA (http://www.doalures.com) colors on redfish to throwing old reliable at big gator trout, to chucking flies bonefish, and pitching crabs at permit.
Pictured below, DOA Lures has released a new color known as blood worm in the shrimp, CAL Jerkshad, and CAL shad tail. This has been a very effective color used in clear or darkly tanned water. The blood worm shad tails should prove to be a regular in my tackle bag.
Upon returning from my week over at ICAST 2012 in Orlando, there is a lot to catch up on and some new gear to put through the rigors.
FINALLY… we had a taste of some slightly cooler air and light NE breezes last weekend. The slow transition from summer to fall has been evident in nature. The way the fish behave, the feel of the air, the lack of hot women prancing around at the boat ramp in Miami, my being able to stay out longer during a day of fishing, and my willingness to spend the extra 15 minutes outside cleaning the boat meticulously after a day on the water. I’ve spent a few days in the past couple of months pre-fishing for the Herman Lucerne Tournament but it seems that the last couple of days spent pre-fishing would be the ones that matter most with the changing conditions. Practice days for tournaments such as these can be harsh so I had to take some “me” time to do what I really wanted to do this time of year… chase after bonefish, permit, and tarpon.
We had good success on our practice days fo the Hreman Lucerne Backcountry Memorial fishing tournament. The challenge is to catch 7 species within the Everglades National Park in 2 days… redfish, bonefish, tarpon, black drum, seatrout, snapper, and snook. Though it is a difficult format, if our last 2 practice days will give us any merit, then I will feel confident. Jeremy and I will have to mix in blind casting, sight fishing, trolling motors, poling, fly fishing, plug fishing, jig fishing, and just about every style of fishing you can do in the glade’s to meet what nature throws at us these next couple of days. The good news is, my Maverick 18 HPX-V skiff is set up to do it all. I’m taking a day off to rest tomorrow before the weekend of hardcore fishing begins. Wish me luck and I wish you all good fishing this next weekend…
Gone are the days of wearing jackets, jeans, and hoodies…hopefully. Gone are the days of sitting in a creek in the Everglades to catch 50 undersized redfish…hopefully. And gone are the arctic blasts that keep our warm weather fish from being happy…hopefully.
It is really starting to feel like the warmer weather starting to set in. My 2 favorite species to target on a fly rod are starting to find this favorable and fishing has certainly been pretty good when the stars lined up. As the warmth really starts to settle in, the sight of dark water will soon be replaced by bright torquise hues, green backed figures, and spiked up fins. The early season stuff is fun, but I can’t wait to get to the meat and potatoes.
Speaking of warm weather… I got a couple of technical fishing shirts from Howler Bro.’s the other day and have been wearing them during these warm days on the water. I can honestly say that I have found the most comfortable fishing shirt on the market that I’ve worn so far. The unmistakable monkey brand is definitely cool and made unique from everything else on the market. These are definitely premium clothes, that are comfortable to wear, and make a statement about the fly fishing and surfing lifestyle. Check it out… www.howlerbros.com
January 2010 in Florida the temperature got near or bellow freezing for 10 days. This created a fish kill for our tropical species of fish the likes of which I have never witness. The result was the closure of snooks. The West coast of Florida remains closed but the East coast is now open to normal harvest regulations.
Thankfully we did not get another severe winter this year. Winter is almost over and things are looking better and better as time goes by.
This was shot with a gopro at a marina down in Miami during the cold spell. The water is crystal clear because it was so cold all the algae in the water died. You can see pods of stun snook and a bone fish clinging on.
note: Go pro underwater focus issues. Due to the curve underwater(over the lens) housing of the gopro when you take videos with it underwater it tends to focus on the lens and not what you are pointing at. I understand they are coming out with a fix for this very soon.
If you can’t wait, eye of mine currently has a modified housing for better underwater footage using the go pro. They run $79-$99.
This was NOT shot with the corrective lens.
Situated on Cargill Creek Two Boys Inn with big value and big bonefish in mind will only set you back about 1750.00 per angler for 7 night and 6 full days of fishing. The lodge is run by Frankie and Berry Neymour and Frankie’s wife Melinda. They provide great accommodations, great bone fishing, and unbelievable food for what I believe is the best value period. Each morning breakfast is made to order and you may choose from generous portions of cold cuts, cheeses, and all the other things you would find on a deli sandwich ready to develop your own masterpiece for lunch.
Leaving the dock around 8 its a short 100 yard walk to the skiffs and a short ride to the North and Middle bites where bonefish await eager to test your tackle and stretch you fly line.
After a day of great fishing you will arrive back at the lodge around 4pm where an afternoon snack awaits that could consist of conch fritters, fried mutton snapper, conch salad, or some other tasty treat with a refrigerator full of cold beverages to wash it all down.
Dinner consists of lobster, conch, fish, chicken, and great sides and served around 7 each evening. The food is unbelievable and Melinda will share her secrets in the kitchen if you want to try to duplicate something she has made back at home.
A quick note about the trip is that the fish were better in quality (size) than we could have imagined. I have been to Andros before and caught loads of smaller bonefish which are great fun however this trip was about the big boys and these guides put us on them. All 4 anglers caught fish over 8 pounds with a couple in the 9 pound range. Most fish were from 3 to 6 pounds. If you are interested in heading over give Melinda a call or email or if you are interested in a fully guided trip feel free to call me direct. You can find more info at www.catpainscottowens.com or www.twoboysinn.com.
I spent this last weekend hanging out in the Keys at the Alderman’s. It’s always a chill time in the Keys.. fresh seafood, a little bonefishing, cold beer, and a very relaxed atmostphere. My buddy Jeremy and I decided to put together a little poker run/mini-shoot to an island in the middle of Florida Bay one afternoon. With 3 Maverick Mirages (two 18 HPX-Vs and a 17 HPX-V) and Juanki’s “Lake and Spray”, we headed out and shot a few cool photos on the water. So within this chilled out weekend, we did manage to sneak out for 3 early hours of some slightly serious business… bonefishing!!! They were there…. they ate shrimp… they ran like hell when they felt the pinch… and your sun glove smelled like hell after you released one.
Between the photoshoot, giant stone crab claws for dinner, bonefish wreslting, and being amongst great company… the weekend was as always… incredible!!! Enjoy some skiff porn….
Stay tuned… more to come shortly!!!
Fall has definitely set in, followed by cooling temperatures, lobster sized live shrimp in the baitwell, blue bird skies, and lots of muddy minded fish. Redfish in Flamingo are swimming on the mud in the afternoon heat and hanging off the deep end of mud banks on cool mornings. Bonefish on the other side of this little world in Islamorada are mudding their tails off, fattening up for the winter. The deep backcountry of the Everglades is also teeming with life. On a recent day in the backcountry, we caught snook, redfish, bream (I haven’t caught a pan fish on fly in over a decade), and gar all in the same few coves. As temperatures cool, catches of 40+ redfish are becomming less uncommon in a single day. We’ve been having a ball catching a bunch of backcountry redfish on DOA CAL shad tails in the new Fiji Chicken color fished on a 1/8oz or 1/4oz chartruese CAL jighead. Fall fishing is just straight up fun and relaxing.
Days have been real windy so it has been fun tackling some big chop in big water in my new 18 Maverick Mirage. I recently added a Minnkota Riptide ST trolling motor with iPilot for some of the deeper water backcountry stuff and it has worked amazing. The spot lock feature on the iPilot trolling motor is pretty amazing (thought it does kinda promote my laziness).
This is definitely a cool time of year to fish…
Stay tuned for more skiff fish porn…
I recently made the switch from a Maverick Mirage 17 HPX-V to an 18 HPX-V and spent the last couple of weeks breaking in the motor on the 18 HPX-V. The 17 HPX-V definitely had a fun feel to it and just had this personality that can’t ever be duplicated by any other skiff on this planet. It definitely stands on its own. The 18 HPX-V is different in it’s own world and displays much more confidence and an ability to stand firm when conditions are at their toughest. These are two very different machines, both with the same mission in mind.
This is the time of year when fishing can be spotty with the fast warming water temperatures and limited light. I call it the season of uncertainty. The only thing certain about late summer is the tropical activity manifesting in our waters. Tropical systems brewing in the Atlantic and Gulf can turn even the calmest bay into a slaughter house of big chop within a single day… sometimes even within minutes. The last few weeks have brought forth some stormy weather and the 18 HPX has faced some of the nastiest conditions head on crossing some of the biggest chop that I have seen in Biscayne Bay and the Keys. The boat felt solid while running a big windy chop and leaping large swells birthed from large yachts. We’ve covered some great distances in the last few days on the water but when time came for a serious day of fishing, there was no dissapointment. The solid ride got us through the choppy water and the shallow draft got us to the bonefish as we can now pole accross the shallow bar rather then having to go around it. The fishing had been very spotty with short windows of shots. We made due with what we had and took advantage of the new abilities we were given to finally break in this new skiff in many aspects.
Versatility defined… Chucking flies at tailing bonefish in Islamorada, slinging muddlers at Tarpon in Flamingo, and dropping crabs in the path of Permit in Marathon in a single day burning less then 1/2 a tank of gas!