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Heat of the Summer Doldrums

The summer heat isn’t the only cause for anglers perspiring at the thought of our National Parks right now.  The recent National Park closures have sparked some heat among us fisherman who really enjoy this great resource we have in South FL. Times like these leave me reflecting on the great memories raising Hell in the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks this past summer. Law Enforcement is now patrolling the boundary line entering the ENP from the Keys but I can’t help but feel tempted to cross over and pole some of my favorite flats until the blue lights chase us.

Fall is approaching now as we are adorned by NE winds following the last few storms of the year.  As the season takes a shift, so does our fishery.  The park closures have kept man out of the glades and there is no telling what we will find when the gates open up once more.  I, for one am anxious to get back to my slices of heaven… Everglades and Biscayne National Park.















First Look… New 2014 Maverick 17 HPX-V

The Maverick Mirage has certainly found it’s place as one of fishing history’s most popular V-bottom hull technical poling skiffs for open water crossings and shallow water fishing. It has evolved from Mirage 1 to Mirage II, Mirage HP, and Mirage HPX-V. After the introduction of the new 18 HPX-V, I guess it was only a matter of time before the public asked for the 17 HPX-V to get a facelift. The public asks and the industry gives…

Here’s a sneak peak of the layout on the new 2014 Maverick Mirage 17 HPX-V.



The following rumors say… lighter hull, more storage, larger casting deck, upgraded wiring schedule, rear hatches configured like the 18 HPX, big live well centered between the 2 rear hatches, and did away with the pop-up push pole holders that seem to be a costly repair when broken.

I hear that the actual skiff will be at the 2013 Miami International Boat Show. This is the one boat show I look forward to all year as all of the biggest names in shallow water skiffs on the market will be there. Come get your fix if you want an overload of skiff porn, eye candy, and a taste of one of the great things Miami has to offer. Looking forward to seeing you all at the boat show next weekend…

Fall Field Testing and upcomming events…

As we wake in the early hours now to grace the cool fresh morning air, I’m not the only one who is glad that the days of hot sweltering summer heat are almost behind us.  A transitional change is definitely in the air.  With the arrival of the equinox, the Chinese mid-Autumn festival, and season premiers of your favorite soap operas on TV, Autumn/Fall is upon us.  This change in season should bring about days when fish will stay active through most of the day.  This also brought about the massive migration of mullet and other baitfish down the Florida coast, with them pelagic predators nipping on their heels.  I welcome this change and embrace it with an entire arsenal of baitfish flies and the latest lures from DOA Lures.

Mullet headed south

Speaking of DOA Lures, they have released a new color for the CAL jerkbait known as #425 Watermelon/Clear Holographic.  This new color is VERY fishy as have been wacking quite a few clear water redfish from Flamingo to Islamorada with it.  We term the phrase “match the hatch” in Fall and this color matches the miriad of small fin fish that are found in vast numbers on the flats this Fall.  When matched with one of DOA’s hot heads on either a weighted or unweighted weedless hook, they look absolutely irresitable.  You can also chuck these light jerkbaits a mile with the G Loomis Greenwater GWR930S 10lb Power Pro.

Image by Jerry McBride and Ron Romano (SLAM Mag)

Flamingo Redfish on #425 DOA CAL Jerkbait

The ideal conditions have provided shots at some tarpon, both big and small.  With all the baitfish roaming around, you sometimes don’t know when to expect to find some laid up tarpon or group of baby tarpon to throw a fly at.

Islmorada Baby Poon

The bigger variety in Dark Water...

Redzone apparel had provided me with a couple of their SPF50 micro-fiber shirts.  The printing is guaranteed not to fade on these shirts as they are permanantly embeded into the color on the shirts.  They are comfortable to wear all day and look real sharp.  I like them!!!  They also produce shirts for the many boat manufacturers on the market, including Maverick Boat Company.  Jeff Harrell of Finatic Designs (same guy who designed that cool Rasta Tarpon “one love” sticker) and Ken of Breathe like a Fish have sent me a couple of their face masks with the breathable vent holes.  Unlike the popular Original Buffs, these face masks have overhanging flaps on the front and rear of the mask that are perfect for shirts that don’t have some sort of mock turtleneck or raised neck.  I just thought that idea and the meshed breathe holes were a great idea I’d mention.  Also be on the lookout for a new bonefish and fly shirt design from Ihuntfish.  I had a chance to see it in person and thought it was a pretty cool design.

I have been eyeing MinnKota’s new iPilot system on their trolling motors and it looks like I will be testing a reveiwing one very soon as I have on the way to be part of a removable setup on my Maverick 18 Mirage.  This new skiff is extremely versatile and the addition of a trolling motor should open some doors for a variety of different types of fishing.  I used to shun trolling motors but I think having the iPilot system with spot-lock will be pretty cool.  Of coarse, it will be removable for days when I plan to stay on the pole all day.  I’ll look forward to using the new iPilot and reviewing it.

For those of you who fish EP Flies, Enrico Puglisi will be at the Vero Backcountry this coming Thursday (Oct. 7th).  Maverick Boat Co. and Vero Backcountry will be hosting the Maverick/Backcountry Cup, fly tournament on Saturday, December 4th.  Mark your calendars for this date, as this proves to be a real fun tournament with lots of cool prizes and great comraderie.  I will have more info on the tournament up shortly.  If you are interested in registering or inquiring about the tournament, contact Capt. Eric Davis at the Vero Backcountry or Charlie Johnson at Maverick Boat Company.

Stay tuned… Fall is only starting to rev up and there should be lots of great things to come from big bonefish in Islamorada to absolute baitfish slaughtering mayhem in the Gulf.

Mirage Pre-Absolute… First test on the water!!!

Chapter V… Pre-Absolute (almost done)

The last month had definitely been the longest month of my life.  For the first time in half a decade, I was boatless for an extended period of time.  Though the wait was actually not that long, it felt like forever but finally my dream boat has been realized.  The result of a shopping list of little nit pick details I gave to Maverick Boat Company gave way for my new skiff… a 2011 Maverick Mirage HPX-V 18


Yamaha F90: After having fished out of 3 different setups… Yamaha F150, F115, and F90, I decided to go with an F90 for this 18 HPX.  Even I was skeptical of the F90 on a bigger skiff at first but after having spent an afternoon on Capt. Mark Krowka’s 18 HPX wit F90, I was absolutely convinced.  The lighter motor in the rear will not only allow the 18 HPX-V to be poled in less then 8 inches of water, but it will also allow the HPX to spin quicker and quieter (it also helps that the boat does not need sponsons to float shallow).  Speed was not an issue as the F90 setup should have no problems running in the mid 40s.  I spend most of my time chasing fish on my push pole, not on the big motor.

Custom Hull/Deck color:  I’ve always liked the subtle look and have always been in the pursuit of sharp looks without sacraficing function.  I am a firm beleiver in the cliche “form follows function.”  I’ve pondered on several different hull color combinations and in a last minute move (and some inspiration from my buddy Jeremy’s 18 HPX), I decided to go with a 2 tone deck.  I chose a custom color called Whisper Grey for the non-skid, hull, and console.  This was a popular color back in the early Maverick days and one which would suit the look I was going for perfectly.  Whisper grey is a really light grey, almost white, but shaded just enough so that there would be absolutely no glare reflecting off this color.  No more glare in your eyes when looking down from the poling platform and no more white balance blowouts in photos.  The color stays cool after being in the sun for long periods of time, unlike the darker greys and blacks.  It was a no brainer.  Another added plus is that the whipser grey also cleans up fairly easy.  Accenting the Whipser grey on the deck of my mirage, I had Maverick use their “ice blue” for the trim around the non-skid and front and rear bulkheads.  The 2 tone look added some sex appeal while retaining it’s functionality.  I would say win-win!!

Console and switches:  I chose to go with the smaller 17 HPX-V console to make room for a bigger cooler and bigger deck.  Maverick installs a bigger hatch opening on the console now that allows for easier access.   A removable shelf was also put in to hold small accessories.  Rather then go with the toggle switches, I upgraded to the Lenco push button switches which is more erganomic in my opinion when you are modulating the throttle and playing with the trim at the same time.  I had these same style switch setup on my old 17 HPX-V and loved it. 

Trailer:  Ameratrail Trailer with zero degree torsion axle, side carpeted bunks, and rollers on the rear crossmember… for the closest thing to absolute dry launch.   The hubs never get wet. 

Accessorizing: This part of the skiff is totally subjective to every indivudials’ needs.  Some like to deck out the skiff with every accessory known to man from power poles to full blown GPS/Radars, to harpoon canons.  I decided to keep this skiff simple.  I went with a Pro-Trim casting platform on the bow of the skiff as I have become very familiar with that foot print.  I chose a simple but sexy Garmin 546 GPSMap as a Nav Aid (ordered and on the way).  To keep my drinks cool, I chose a mid sized Yeti cooler (ordered and on the way) to rest in front of my console and will probably be getting a second larger cooler for food fish gathering missions.  Of coarse, no skiff is complete these days without Sea Deck.  I had Tyler from Castaway Customs install the Sea Deck pads under the rod gunnels, on my poling platform, and casting platform.  To complete the setup, I will be installing a Wang Anchor setup and possibly a removable Minnkota iPilot trolling motor. 

I drove up to Fort Pierce to  picked up my new skiff this past Friday and spent today breaking in the motor.  The arena would be the weekend warrior and wind driven turbid waters of the northern recesses of Biscayne Bay in metropolitan Miami; just within sight of Government Cut and Brickell.  Once I got passed the 3 hour mark, I got to open her up a little.  The results were nothing short of amazing.  My buddy Juanki and I decided to do a quick test run to see what potential this type of power will have on this hull.  With 2 anglers, an almost full tank of gas, cooler full of ice and drinks, and fishing gear; I made a quick short run and reached 45mph in mere seconds.  I looked down at the tach to see that I wasn’t fully trimmed up yet and that I would still have a bit of room to play with but decided to back it down until after the motor is completely broken in.  No doubt this boat is going to be a 48-49mph skiff running a lighter load.  What truley amazed me were the cruise speeds… 36-37mph @ 4600rpms. 

The 10 kt breeze turned into a consistant 15kt wind with 20kt gusts in the afternoon.  Taking this opportunity, I decided to run straight across the roughest part of Biscayne Bay from Key Biscayne on the east side of the bay straight to Gables by the Sea on the west side of the bay.  We got the skiff running up on it’s pad and never got a drop of water in the boat.  What was also amazing was the incredible bow lift and the willingness of the hull to stay in the water instead of leaping airborne.  This was a true testament to the genius design of the brainchilds over at Maverick Boat Company.  

Everyone’s got that one friend who nit picks at every little details and will always find something negative to say about the slightest details.  I brought that one friend along with me today and in his exact words… “I honestly can’t think of anything negative I can point out about this boat.”   I just grinned… thinking about the next time on the water and finally getting some slime on the deck (figure of speech).

Stay tuned for the next chapter… I ran out of smart ideas to name the next chapter as I have absolutely no clue what will be in store for us on the next outing.  There is only one way to find out…

Geared for Tarpon and Bonefish of the summer..

Tarpon and Bonefish are two of the most sought after species by fly fisherman from Biscayne Bay to Key West.  We hold a very special fishery here where we don’t have the fish that are easiest to catch, nor do we have the biggest population of either of the two species here, but what we have here in South Florida are some of the worlds biggest, toughest, and most challenging bonefish and tarpon.  As a guide in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys, it always brings a smile to my face on days where I have seen my anglers from various experience levels conquer their firsts.  Because I don’t guide full time, I get to spend quite a bit of time on the bow as well on my off days and study and learn these fish from the angler’s point of view.  This aids in helping me coach the marksman on the tippy end of the skiff in delivering their presentation and finally sealing the deal. 

In recent weeks, I guided two incredible anglers to their first tarpon and bonefish on fly.  In the few recent days, I was able to accomplish the same again with another two anglers, but this time, these two anglers were not locals.  My buddy Capt. Willy Le of Titusville caught his first big tarpon on fly on the bow of my Maverick Mirage.  In the days to follow, I then guided a Noweigian angler from London to both his biggest bonefish and his first tarpon on fly (before this day, he had only saltwater fished in Mexico).

It’s a great feeling to be the man on the watch tower when you have anglers who can listen and get it done… but then again, there is a part of me that would rather be on the pointy end of the skiff most of the time.  This is where guide becomes angler, fish becomes teacher, and fly tackle is put to it’s rounds.  All the coaching and directing I’ve done from the watch tower comes into question at this point.  This gives new definition to practicing what I preach…

My buddy Dr. Tony and his father joined me for a day of tarpon fishing recently in the upper Keys.  Tony’s dad brought the HD Video camera and was able to capture some great footage of lots of tarpon, lots of frustrating moments, and moments of victories.  Our afternoon of fishing was great as we threw at singles, pairs, and giant hoards of big tarpon travelling up and down the ocean side of the Keys.  We started off with lots of tough shots into a strong breeze at fish that were snuffing our presentation on every good shot.  A quick fly change and adjustment in presentation was key and I finally hooked a rather large tarpon throwing into one of the biggest strings of tarpon I had ever seen in my life.  The victory dance ended before it began as the silver beast leaped several times into the air while I was clearing the flyline and had the last loop of line wrap around my watch.  It was a quick death for my brand new monic fly line as the watch cut right through the fly line in one loud “SNAP”.   I made up for this the next round as I hooked and tamed one shortly afterwards.  Tony hooked another fish minutes later that made for Miami and never looked back.  We tried to chase but the fish was still ripping line off of Tony’s reel like as if we were sitting still.  I didn’t manage to shoot a bunch of photos but I did manage to shoot a couple shots.  Our main focus was on shooting video so stay tuned for some raw footage from this day.


Bonefishing isn’t the greatest this time of year as days are very warm and shots are limited to the cooler hours but knowing how to work with this can lead to some pretty good fishing.  It also helps when you are fishing with one of the world’s best bonefisherman (Tim Mahaffey).  Office work was a pretty slow week so my buddy Tim and I decided to take off for 4 hours during the middle of one day and do a little bonefishing in Biscayne Bay before having to return to our land locked duties.  In the short time we fished, we managed to catch 4 decent bonefish on fly, one of which was close to double digit status.  On this day, we fished with Monic full clear fly lines which gave us the edge when the water was ultra clear, winds were low, and the sun was high.  Fishing with full clear fly lines do take a little bit of getting used to, but because you now to read the fish in relation to where your fly landed, it does force you to become a better angler.

Days are getting longer and temperatures are getting warmer, but the fishing is as always… AS GOOD AS EVER!!  Stay tuned for more of the good stuff…

Chronicles of the Maverick Mirage; 5 days, 4 locations, 4 skiffs, welcoming the arrival of Spring!

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. 

Day 1

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. 


Day 4

Skiff:  Maverick Mirage HPX-Micro

Location: Flamingo

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.   


Day 5

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!!

One last epic battle for 2009

There are moments in life that we never forget.  These moments can be moments of days, hours, minutes, or even seconds.  A short day of fishing or even one fish caught that day can sometimes be more memorable then a day filled with catching a boat load of fish.  When time has slowed and you begin to break down one of these moments, the short minutes can feel like an eternity.  Here is a very recent experience I had that would be a memory to last a lifetime.

It was an afternoon of fishing in Biscayne Bay with my buddy Capt. Frank that I assumed would  just be a scouting trip to check water temps on different flats.  The first part of the day started off rough with very limited visibility and a few fish blown out due to the lack of light attention.

Our hope came later towards the end when the sun finally broke away the clouds that were looming over our heads.   Capt. Frank pushed the skiff along while we both scanned the deeper water waiting for a bonefish to materialize.  We finally spotted the sign of a faint mud almost fading away in the strong current.  As we looked further, we gazed upon the sight of a familiar shape that our eyes had been trained to distinguish from the rest.  It was indeed a bonefish; green back glowing in the sun, an unmistakable shadow underneith, and face burried in the short grass digging up it’s prey.  The fish seemed to notice our presence and started to swim off, bringing a partner in crime along with him.  Armed with a 9wt canon, I punched out a long back cast giving the fish a lead and letting my fly sink into the grass where I had hoped to be part of this fish’s path.  As the silver denizen of the shallows approached my crab fly, I gave it a bump to get the fish’s attention.  This would either spook him or turn him into a raging druggy searching out his crack-pipe.  The fish caught sight of the tastey morsel that had just hopped into his path and turned towards it with a mission in mind.  I gave the fly another bump and the fish sped up deploying it’s pec fins like a stealth bomber swooping in for the kill.  A third bump drove the fish nuts and the fish pinned the fly right into the grass.  A long strip and I came tight to the result I was hoping for. 

The fly line streaked sideways across the bow of my Maverick skiff leaving a roostertail in it’s wake.  Capt. Frank and I couldn’t help but watch as this veteran bonefish ran right towards the shoreline and into the thicket of mangroves like a scathed k9.  The fish had plowed his way into the forest of mangroves but was still running fast, without any sign of slowing down.  I thought, “how deep does that forest go?”.  Frank poled the skiff up to the shoreline and thats where I realized that the fish had me wrapped up and tangled on several downed trees, around and under a few mangrove roots, and under big stump, before it had run back out and made a bee line towards Bimini.  I did what I could… took off my hat, glasses, and shirt and I jumped into the chilly water to attempt to unravel this mess.  I completely backed off on the drag and waded through the forest of mangroves and stumps, threading my fly rod through every entanglement this bonefish had run me through.  After 15 minutes of cussing, I had finally threaded my flyrod through all the entanglements and jumped back on the skiff, which Frank had to pole around and through a narrow opening in the mangroves. 

We finally landed this bonefish a few minutes later and found a sigh of relief that a shark or cuda hadn’t gotten to it before we did.  High fives were due and a few photos were shot before we carefully released this hard fighting bonefish back into the deep where he would someday try again to twart another angler’s attempt at catching a big Biscayne Bay bonefish.  This is to be my last bonefish I’d catch in 2009.  We had gained another bit of experience and more respect for Abula Vulpes as we enter 2010 with even higher expectations for a good fishing year. 

Happy Holidays to all.  Wherever we may be tonight when the clock strikes twelve; let us toast to new beginnings, challenges, and triumphs ahead in 2010.  From all of us at Saltyshores, we hope you have a great New Year. 

-Capt. Honson Lau

The hard fought victory

Maverick 18 HPX-V

Mavericks’ New Mirage 18 HPX-V

Maverick Boats introduced the new 18 HPX-V at the 2009 Miami Boat Show. The skiff is a new design from the ground up, based on the popular 17 HPX-V. Designed with input from several well-known guides including Mark Crocker. It incorporates angler friendly features such as an integrated removable cooler in front of the console. Recessed deck cap lip against aft bulkhead so passenger can use the lip for a handhold when running. Then allows for the seat cushion to fold down completely out of the way giving full access to the rear deck. A 28-gallon livewell located on centerline with recessed drain system, that allows water height adjustment and evacuates water at all levels in the well. Perfect for large finfish baits, enough whitebait for chumming or as a tournament release well.

The 18 HPX-V was developed as a Tournament boat, covering large amounts of water in short time. To accomplish this a larger more stable platform than the 17 HPX V, but not so large as to be considered a Bay Boat was designed. Thus the 18 HPX V was born. Length Over all is 18’4” with a beam of 6’8” and a maximum horsepower rating of 150. The new skiff is a serious backcountry bullet. Rigged and loaded with 3 persons we achieved a top speed of 57.7mph. In tournament dress with skilled hands at the helm, the skiff has pushed 62.5mph.

Amazingly though, with a beefy F150 Yamaha 4 Stroke hung off the back, the skiff does not suffer from overly pronounced squat while at rest. While it draws more than it’s smaller sibling the 17 HPX V, the skiff does not become unusable when propulsion is shifted to push pole. The large front deck offers the angler a wide stable platform to cast from.

Admittedly I was smitten by the pure power and speed of the new HPX V with the F150 Yamaha, but it’s usability once off plane that captured my attention. If the need for speed does not course through one’s veins then the option of a lighter 115 or even 90 hp engines would fit the bill. Top end and hole shot performance would be less than the larger motor, but poling draft would greatly improve.

Rod storage is ample with 13 rod tubes fore and aft facing. Cockpit is spacious and deeper than it’s sibling the 17 HPX V. The removable cooler/seat is comfortable and functional. Fore and aft storage compartments are ample for everything from the weekender to the full out tournament guide.

Most notable is the redesigned center console. Controls are ergonomically designed so the operator rarely needs to remove their eyes from where they are going to activate trim or jack plate controls. Tilt helm improves ergonomics while operating the skiff from a standing position. The center console also features a large flat surface to flush mount today’s most popular mid sized electronics. The console also has a locking removable door that gives access to an interior shelf and battery switch with main breakers.

Hull construction starts with Mavericks’ proprietary VARIS (Vacuum Assisted Resin Infusion System) with a specially blended vinylester resin formulated for the application. The hull is built using a combination of e-glass, Kevlar, Carbon Kevlar and rigid core material varying in thickness and density depending upon location and requisite structural needs. The finished hull weight, including stringers and reinforced transom, is only 275 lbs. Then premium grade wiring harnesses made in-house, custom to each boat, with Duestch connectors are installed. Lastly the skiff is assembled using premium grade hardware, including lockable compression latches, then dunk tank tested at the factory before being delivered to the customer. Final dry weight before engine is 965 lbs.

Is there room for improvement? The recessed lip on the rear cockpit bulkhead was a nice feature but after about 50 mph I prefer a more traditional grab rail mounted on the console or gunnels. Storage was spacious but having tested other skiffs from MBC I liked the non-drop in liners used on the HPX Micro and HPX 15T.

Overall MBC has developed a solid tournament skiff for the angler looking for a larger backcountry boat with speed and range. Yet does not become cumbersome when the fish push skinny.

Capt. Jan

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3207 Industrial 29 Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34946

phone: 772.465.0631
fax: 772.489.2168

web site:

LOA – 18′ 04″
Beam – 6′ 08″
Deadrise – 13 deg.
Draft – 9″ w/ F150
Fuel capacity – 26 gal.
Maximum capacities – 4 persons or 600 lbs
Maximum HP – 150 hp
Weight (approx. w/ engine) – 1,400 lbs. w/ F150

Standard Features:
Hydraulic steering
Trim tabs (recessed)
Yamaha multi-function gauges
Aluminum motor-bolt reinforcement plates
Freeboard carpet (redfish & tarpon)
No wood, no rot foam & core w/ premium resin
Premium fade-resistant gelcoat
Recessed hardware for snag-free fishing
Stainless steel thru-hulls w/ seacocks below water line
VARIS – Vacuum Assisted Resin Infusion System
VARIS carbon fiber/Kevlar laminate
Cushion package (1 aft deck)
Non-seat console
Completely flush forward & aft casting decks
Muliple below-deck conduits, both fore & aft
Poling tower
Push pole holder (3 deck-mount, shipped loose)
Rod tubes for tip protection (4 bow port, 5 bow stbd, 3 aft port, 3 aft stbd)
Wide gunnels for walk around fishing
Automatic bilge pump
Livewell/Releasewell (28 gal, aft center)
Foam insulated box (2)
Large guttered, gasketed, lock-down dry storage compartments (3)
Lockable center console
Flush-mount bow cleat (6 in)
Full closed-foam flotation throughout
12-volt accessory jack
Battery switch, 4-position
Console courtesy lights, LED (2)
Livewell light (aft center)
Navigation lights, LED (console)
Nickel-tinned fused wiring harness
Under-gunnel courtesy lights, LED (2)

Dealing with changes… Winding down for Winter…

Sneak Preview of Hells Bays new Skate

Sneak Preview of Hells Bay's new Skate

We were continually blessed with bluebird skies this past weekend.  I walked outside in the morning to look at my boat and immediately noticed a difference… a slight chill was in the air, winds were out of the North, and dew had formed on the deck of my boat.  This was a definite sign that things are changing as we transition from Fall to Winter patterns.

I joined my buddies Tony and Juanki the first day of fishing as we took out Tony’s new Hells Bay skiff.  This new skiff in our arsenal will change the way we fish as well as give us that edge we need when having to pole down a school of speeding bonefish.   Today’s mission was to break in the new skiff so we decided we should take the day of fishing more seriously (yeah right).  Our seriousness on the water extends only to the point in the day where we start busting each other’s chops.  It is always a gauranteed fun day on the water amongst this company.  We started out our day with a first shot at a quadruplet of very big bonefish.  Tony makes the perfect presentation and gets the eat, only to loose the fish while clearing line.  The day was then filled with more exciting moments from, hooking and loosing big bonefish, poling down wads of fish, missing some bites, loosing balance and making a watery entries, and finally breaking in the skiff with Tony’s new signature move… the Islamorada bonefish toss and plunge.  There was never a dull moment out on the water this day.   I look forward to our next day on the water…

The next day on the water was a definite eye opener.  Tim and I decided to take my Mirage out today for a change.  Have you ever heard the superstition about your day being over after catching the fish on your first shot of the day?  Well, besides only having less then half the bonefish shots as the previous day, both Tim and I caught a bonefish on each of our first shots.  This sealed the deal for us as we delt with loosing fish, mising bites, and having to work harder to find fish.  These are days you learn a bunch about the bonefishery…especially when you have a bonefish guru (Tim) on the boat with you.  Winter is definitely on it’s way.  Skies are becoming less cloudy, the water levels are slowly dropping, the air is becoming drier and cooler, fish are starting to get into a transitional phase, and bonefish are getting FAT.  Life is good indeed…

Let’s change the pace up a little the next week… until next time…