The cold has set in this winter and it is too damn cold. Sight fishing in south Floridahas become very limited and there are few days that can call for epic tarpon or bonefishing so Sam Root, Joe Welborne, Eddie O, Capt. Will Le, and I decided to make a trip out west to the Marsh and experience some of the finer redfishing that exists there. Eddie and I volunteered to tow our skiffs out west so we greased our bearings, did the full trailer inspection, and made ready for our long journey ahead. We made lodging arrangements at Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix. The accomodations were good and made boat storage very convenient. My goal though, was to learn how to navigate and fish in a fishery that is completely new to me, figure out where to find big redfish, and have a fun time doing so. No, I don’t plan on ever guiding there in those waters, but I do plan on making a trip there annually to partake in the world’s best winter fishery. I’m sure as you all may have read from Sam and Willy’s reports, fishing was a bunch of fun.
We arrived after a push of cold weather accompanying very high winds and freezing temperatures washed through the marsh. This made the water was dirty and real cold. We bunched up in many layers of clothing and embarked on a mission into the Marsh. The first day brought hope as we had a bright sun and calm winds. It didn’t take us long to find the elements we had been looking for to locate fish, as we started off catching numerous smaller (7-10lb) redfish on light fly rods, but we were after the famed giant redfish that this marsh was popular for. We ran around for a bit and found where bigger fish would hold but lost out light. We settled for catching a bunch of fish in the 12-15lb range given the limited visibility we had. It is just amazing how aggressive these redfish were… definitely a nice reprieve from what we normally face here in Florida. There was zero light our second day on the water. We could barely see a foot into the water but made the best of it anyways and still ended up catching more 15lb redfish… we doubled, trippled, and quadroupled up on fly. This is truley the most amazing winter fishery in the world. Don’t buy the media hype about the Oil spill.. the marsh is very alive and full of the most aggressive redfish in the world.
We got to sample some of Louisiana’s fine cajun food but I think the best eats we had by far was the Pho at Pho Tau Bay. It took us 2 hours of wandering around lost in New Orleans to finally find this Pho restaurant, but it was well Pho-king worth it. However, the most memorible meal was the one we had before we left. Willy mentioned we should eat at Willy Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans for some fried chicken. Let me tell you, this was the absolute best fried chicken I had ever eaten. There is no surprise that Willy Mae’s was featured on several TV programs on the food network.
This was to be a true test of fishing ability and equipment. The Maverick 18 HPX-V I was running made for a perfect fishing platform in this environment as we ran through the marsh, through shallow mud ponds, and poled quietly big laid up redfish. We also got to test the 9wt G Loomis NRX’s ability to handle big flies and it proved to be quite the amazing rod for both long and short casts. For those in the entry level fly market, we got to test the first TFO 9wt BVK to come off the production line. The new 9wt BVK is a very fast and powerful fly rod and definitely benefits from an aggressive taper and heavier grain fly line such as a Wulff Burmuda Triangle Taper or Airflo Ridge. The 9wt BVK is by far the best 9wt rod that TFO has ever made though. For smaller 10lb class redfish, I got to use my 7wt G Loomis Shorestalker, which was a little light for the big flies we were throwing, but it surprisingly was able to turn over some pretty large flies well. This is a powerful little pistol of a fly rod. We mainly used Nautilus NV and FWX reels on most of the flyrods we fished. These Nautilus reels are truely amazing.
Between the good eats and great fishing, I think it was the camaraderie amongst good company that will never be forgotten. I can’t wait to be back next year.
Capt. Willy Le and I made our way North to the Mosquito Lagoon, the day after the tournament in Vero. A front was threatening to approach us further south so we drove north of the cold front and fished behind it. This would prove to be a good choice as I had a little time to fish before having to head back down to Miami. The cloudy conditions always make it tough to sight fish but we had small 5 minute windows of light that would allow us to capitalize on what shots we had… patterning out the fish, we set ourselves up for quite a few great shots as the sun peaked. The fishing was nothing short of spectacular. We caught 8 redfish out of the 13 we stuck metal to in the 3 hours. This was definitely a lot of fun feeding fish that aggressively attack a well placed fly. We got to test a few new fly patterns I had developed earlier that week and I am happy to report great success and a new fly that has found itself into my back of tricks.
I got to cast and test some new gear this trip so stay tuned for an update for all the fly and spin gear heads out there…
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…
Following the success of their affordable and top quality Feather Weight (FW) series of fly reels, Nautilus Reels has recently released their new FWX series of reels. The new FWX reels offer both upgraded and new features from their predecessor. New features include a redesigned lighter weight frame and housing (with looks very similar to their NVG series), TORQ-X one way clutch for instant drag engagement, Laser ID for marking line identification, a light weight sealed SCF (carbon fiber) drag, and all the other features we all came to love about the FW reels. Sizes range from 3wt sizes to 8wt sizes. Visit your local flyshop to purchase one of these. The FWX 3/4 and 5/6 should have already hit all major local fly shops. The FWX 7/8 should be delivered soon. Stop by and purchase or order yours today. Another added bonus is that Nautilus offers their custom shop, which can anodize the reel in any color combination you choose upon ordering the reel.
Pricing and Line Capacities are as follows:
FWX 3/4: WF3F + 110 yds of 20lb backing. 3.6 oz. $240 (reel)/$105 (spool)
FWX 5/6: WF5F + 150 yds of 20lb backing. 3.8 oz. $250 (reel)/$125 (spool)
FWX 7/8: WF7F + 200 yds of 20lb backing. 4.1 oz. $280 (reel)/$145 (spool)
I will be testing the new FWX 7/8 in the next following weeks on my 7wt setup. This reel should be excellent for bass, redfish, snook, and baby tarpon. I got to pair the 7/8 with a 7wt G Loomis Shorestalker flyrod and the combo felt pretty incredible while tossing it around in the field. These reels are a real bargain!!!
Stay tuned for more updates…
I was over there at the Orlando outfitter’s fly shop for the Simms night. I got check out all the new gear from Simms that is due out next week. They get some more micro fibers, new face mask, sun gloves, and arm covers. They are also more Florida/Saltwater orientated this year. They took out the trout and replaced it with a Tarpon in many of their new Saltwater Series Gear.
By the way the Orlando Outfitters shop was a very nice shot full of all kinds of tying materials. Very clean, very modern look that goes a long ways when you are fly shop. First time I have been there and it was impressive.
The conclave, though as lame as the title sounds had some cool stuff there. If you wanted to test new fly rods out, if you want to check out the latest reel, if you wanted to learn to tie all kinds flies, if you wanted to learned how to cast better and if you wanted to network with people in the fly industry, this was the place to be.
On the other hand if you were trying to sell products there the attendance was very lacking. It is stilling going on tomorrow so lets hope more people show up as it will be Saturday.
It’s actually a pretty nice event if you are into fly fishing this was awesome. There were technical Clothing there at 40-60% off, there tying material at discount prices, there were fly lines up to 75% off. Plus if you wanted to learn something it was very informative. Too bad no body knows about to take advantage of it all.
I don’t know who said it, but “The silence was deafening.”
Here are some shots I took of some stuff I thought was cool. All the photos were shot with no flash with a cheap $120.00 lens. It’s the best $120 lens ever the Nikon 50 mm 1.8 lens. Super fast and awesome in day light.
Awesome spider fly. I would be scared to cast this thing.
Galvan Fly Reels Have not seen many of these in stores but they are competitively priced and seems pretty well built.
The upgraded Nautilus FWX. Still super light weight.
Imported reels. CNC aluminum, retails at $140.00
The ever popular Tibor reels. These are the new Signature series with sealed cork drags. They will be available in December.
The brand New Ross F1 reels. Race car brake technology into fly reels. Lots of carbon.