The Mosquito Lagoon water level has been low the past couple of weeks and the clarity has been really bad possibly from a brown algae bloom due to high nutrients in the water. That doesn’t mean that the fishing is bad though, it means that you just have to look harder.
Every Summer the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River and Banana River goes through the same pattern, some years worst than others. I actually prefer to fish in dirty water rather than crystal clear, you don’t see as many fish, but when you do you can get pretty close to make multiple casts until it eats or spooks. I like to use very flashy flies and lures, especially ones with gold flash which reflects more light and you pretty much have to present the fly/lure right in the fishes mouths.
In the cleaner waters which is in the Indian and Banana Rivers right now, there are an abundance of glass minnows and mullet on the flats. Topwater lures have been working great like the MirrOLure Top Dog, Top Dog Jr. and She Pup series. On really calm mornings, I like to use something less noisy so I’ll tie on a D.O.A. Shallow Runner Baitbuster and do a steady retrieve on the surface letting the tail vibrate to top. Redfish, Trout, Snook and Tarpon love that!
These past couple of weeks, I’ve been leaving the Mosquito Lagoon Redfish alone and focusing on Tarpon in the backcountry waters of the Space Coast. Summer time is when they typically show up and most of my clients prefer to target them on fly. I get a lot of clients that are really good fly anglers up North in the small stream but when they come down here, it’s difficult for them to adapt to the style of saltwater fly fishing. I encourage all anglers that want to fly fish in Florida to learn how to double haul your line. That will increase the speed of your cast, the distance, and be able to cast in windy conditions which will increase the chances of catching the targeted species big time.
Andres from Brazil was having a tough time sending the fly out far enough to where the Tarpon were at. Tarpon here keep just enough distance from the boat to barely reach them with a flyrod. After trying for a couple hours with no luck reaching the fish, I set him up with a spin rod and a D.O.A. Baitbuster which he was glad to try. A couple casts to rolling fish, and Tarpon were in the air after that.
Andres also caught a few snook with the fly rod while blind casting against the shorelines.
Matt from South Florida brought his brother Ryan along to introduce him to the world of inshore sight fishing. After he got used to seeing what to look for and casting in the right spot, he started catching them and now he is hooked. Here’s Matt showing his brother how it’s done.
..and here is brother Ryan with his first sight casted Redfish. All fish caught using D.O.A. Shadtails.
Reid and his dad Rudy come up to fish the Lagoon with me at least once a year, they don’t have much sight fishing down in the Palm Beach area so they come up to enjoy some father and son time. Always a pleasure having them aboard and listening to them bust each others balls!
Luke was on a family vacation to Ormond Beach and wanted to scratch a Redfish on fly off of his bucket list. He did just that and caught a few more on top of it on a half day. I’d say that’s pretty good for not having much experience sight fishing for Redfish!
Stuart from North Carolina was pretty excited to catch his first tailing Redfish this day in the Indian River lagoon using a D.O.A. Shadtail.
On June 13th, I was invited to fish a fly only Invitational Tarpon tournament in the Brevard County area. The 2nd annual “Chase for the Chalice” is all for charity and Tarpon research. All of the money went to a German Shepherd rescue of Central Florida and all the tarpon caught and released needed to be swabbed for DNA for research. It was all great times with a great group of anglers and guides for a good cause. My good buddy Honson Lau from Miami came up to fish with me in this event. We ended up getting 1st place with our names on the Chalice that will be showcased at Harry Goodes Outdoor Shop in Melbourne, FL.
Right now from what I’ve been witnessing on the water lately, anglers will have a very good chance at chasing a Grand Slam on fly this Summer. That’s catching a Redfish, Sea Trout, Snook and Tarpon all in the same day which is a great accomplishment!
-Capt. Willy Le
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…
We all heard the “hype”… we all anticipated what was going to be next in the evolution of the skeleton fish… 8/13/10, Friday the 13th… NRX has finally arrived!!
The G Loomis NRX rods were officially launched tonight to the public. I was at the south FL leg of the NRX launch at the Flyshop of Miami. While at the launch, I was able to throw the whole gamut of the new G Loomis NRX Fly Rods from 7wt to 12wt. If you want the technical aspects of the NRX, you can find them on the G Loomis website, but if you are seeking the nitty gritty of how the rod performed in the hands of the fly caster then you might enjoy the following read.
Here are my initial thoughts on my favorite 3 NRX models…
7wt NRX… This is the true gem in the entire NRX Flyrod series. This rod is fast but still carries a light enough tip to make those short ninja casts when a fish pops up within pushpole stabbing range. Unlike most other 7wt rods, the NRX had the reserve to handle the wind when needed. Most importantly, of every fly rod I have ever cast in my life, the 7wt NRX had the absolute best line feel I had ever experienced. You are never lost as this rod keeps you aware of where your line is at all times so you can make the proper adjustments for your shot and not have to take your eyes off the fish. This was also a very forgiving rod, such that casts that would have fallen apart because of an error in your casting stroke were corrected with ease. Weightwise; the 7wt NRX is extremely light weight. For Sage fans, I would say the NRX weights in between the TCX and Xi3. This 7wt NRX is a must have in every summer time redfish or bonefisherman’s arsenal. I have thrown just about every flagship model 7wt from all the top flyrod manufacturers and the NRX has found it’s place at the top of that world.
9wt NRX… If I ever had to choose one rod to redfish or bonefish with for the rest of my life, it would be the 9wt NRX. I need not have to explain the versatility of a 9wt but to be specific about the NRX 9wt, it is currently my favorite 9wt Flyrod on the market today. This is the most forgiving rod in the entire NRX series as errors are corrected easy and those who decide to muscle their casts will find that this rod will still punch out the line and lay it out nicely. Unless you absolutely suck, you just can’t shock this rod. It feels as if the rod wants to cast for you. Line feel is incredible as all the technologies were put together into this rod to transfer what is going on outside the tip guide straight through the blank, through the best quality cork, and right into your hand. This 9wt rod has plenty of reserve and should punch out a wind resistant permit fly with ease if need be. The particular one I cast today had a 9wt Airflo Ridge bonefish/redfish taper line on it, which felt perfectly matched. I am going to throw a Monic clear line on there next and report back. Weight-wise, this rod is in the same weight class as the Sage Xi3, perhaps a tad bit lighter.
11wt NRX… This is “the” travel big game rod. What else can I say except that the 11wt NRX is a cannon with the weight of a small pistol. This rod is crazy light weight and as with the other NRX models, very forgiving and powerful. GTs and Tarpon around the world better say their prayers…
Stay tuned for more details and some “on the water” feedback…
This is the one fish that drives all of us dedicated fly fisherman nuts come March, April, May, June, July, and even into August. The continuing cold spells this past winter and early spring have kept the fish from making their early migration. Anglers like us were housed in and on days when we just can’t take it anymore, we would sneak out anyways and sit at our favorite tarpon holes, hoping that we’d catch one stray fish wandering by. For as many times in the early season this year I sat, I saw nothing. All the images of tarpon stringing down the avenue were just mirages in my head. The way I felt can only be described as a nicotine addict rolling up burnt hibiscus leaves into a napkin and lighting one of these up, hoping to feel that nicotine. No, I don’t even smoke, nor do I ever feel the need to smoke a cigarette, but tarpon fishing… that is one addiction that is even harder to kick then any drug or narcotic on this earth.
The heat finally did come and we had a short early season tarpon fishery. The trickle didn’t last long as the big strings showed almost immediately after we witnessed the trickle. Hoards of tarpon showed up this year into all of the Florida Keys. The numbers of fish hooked; seen and heard spoke for itself this year as they proved this year to be the best year of tarpon fishing in a long long time. No cold spell, fish kill, nor bad press can hold back all the fish from spilling in and eating a well placed fly. This is what most of us has hoped and dreamed for all winter long as we sat on our tying benches cranking out green toads and other variations of this tried and true fly. Speaking for myself, I have had the most incredible year of tarpon fishing yet. I recently spent a few days on the water throwing at my share of tarpon and witnessing the best days ever. We had days with numbers going 5 for 16, 3 for 9, 1 for 3 on a slow day on the ocean (which is not bad considering we fed 3 hard to catch ocean fish under the toughest conditions), etc… Within all the madness, I managed to somehow managed to burn through half the tarpon flies out of my box and spend my nights desperately trying to replenish that spent supply. This year gave way for lost of creative thoughts and also my development of 2 new deadly laid up tarpon patterns (no, these will not be pictured anytime soon). To call this incredible would be an understatement.
Thanks to all my buddies who joined me out on the water these last few days and to David McCleaf for capturing more of the incredible fish porn on the skiff with us.
I head out to Fort Myers tomorrow to join my buddies Capt. Rick De Paiva, David McCleaf, Sam Root, and Capt. Colby Hane for a weekend of poon fishing on the west coast. Flies will be demolished, rods will be bent (and possibly blown up), wills will be shattered (hopefully the fish’s), and great times will be had. Stay tuned… this should be a season to remember.
This has got to be the most exciting and anxious time of year for most of us anglers who love to sight fish on a flyrod, crab, lure, or whatever. The warm weather starts to settle in and the sight fishing all over Florida begins to yeild epic days on the water. For those of us in the upper Florida Keys, the possibilities of the ultimate grand slam… fishing for bonefish, tarpon, and permit in a single day becomes an easier reality.
Jeremy and I have been running his new Maverick 18 HPX-V with the 21 Pitch Powertech 3 blade PTR prop. Compared to the 20 pitch 4 blade we were running before, this 3 blade had much more bow lift, better top end, better fuel economy, and made the boat perform like a whole different machine. The only thing sacraficed here was the ability for tight cornering at higher speeds… which isn’t much of an issue considering that this boat is meant for crossing big water in the Keys. We are going to subject the boat to further testing but so far the results are amazing. The concept applied to my 17 HPX-V years ago when I switched over from a 4 blade 18 Pitch PTR prop to a 3 blade 19 pitch PTR prop. This hull loves the bow lift and unfortuantely the 4 blade props on this HPX hull make the front end dig when running a big chop. This is a huge plus if you are planning on crossing those big basins in the Florida Keys. Give the folks at Powertech Props a call and they can provide you with whatever info you’ll need on these props. If you need to order one, you can contact your local Maverick Boat dealer or Shallow Water Customs.
Joe at Carbon Marine delivered a new Carbon Marine/Loop Push Pole for Jeremy’s 18 HPX. All I can say is this pushpole is SWEEETTT! It is much stiffer then all the Stiffy poles, lighter then both teh Graphite and Hybrid, and is great for poling deep water as it is not as floaty as my Stiffy Guide. The best part about this… the warantee that Carbon Marine offers is unparalleled and the price for these push poles is worlds less then the comparible Stiffys. Loop and Carbon Marine have come together and outdone themselves on this product. Oh and the Lambda shaped foot is pretty freakin sweet!!
It was a very busy few weeks and I have had very limited days on the water. Unfortunately, the weather has not cooperated with me at all when I was able to make it out but fortunately, we still caught some fish. This semester is finally over and it is time to get busy on the pushpole…. and possibly spend some time on the pointy end of the bow if I’m lucky. Stay tuned guys and gals… this should be an AWESOME Spring and Summer.
I had the chance to attend the Vero Backcountry Fly tournament hosted by the Vero Backcountry and Maverick Boat Co. this past weekend. As with similar events in the past that MBC has hosted, this event allowed for some friendly competition and a chance for fly fisherman with similar interests to get together and socialize a bit. On the more serious side of the tournament, anglers targetted 4 species; redfish, trout, snook, and sheepshead to bring home the top honors. I had never realized the great sight fishing opportunites that Vero Beach and Fort Pierce has to offer. Not were we able to target these species via sight fishing, but we had shots at 3ft long trout laid up on the flats. These big trout definitely proved to be the most challenging species I have ever tried to sightfish on a flyrod… I have earned a whole new respect for the species. Capt. Eric Davis and I teamed up and stalked the shallows in my Mirage managing to feed over a dozen redfish, hooking 8, pulling the hooks on 5, and landing 3. After a few frustrating hours of throwing at big stubborn mega trout, we ended up dredging flies in deeper water and catching a dozen or so small trout. Our fishing was pretty good actually, but not good enough to take the top honors from team Maverick Boat Co. (Charlie Johnson and owner Scott Deal), whom posted redfish, trout, and sheepshead. An incredible time was had by all with raffles and some sweet prizes. Plans for next year’s event is already in the works. If you guys are looking to sample some of Vero Beach’s best sight fishing, make sure to contact Capt. Eric Davis.
The past few weeks leading to this event have been pretty interesting. My buddy Paul and I had a chance to get out the prior weekend and sight fish redfish for an hour or so in Flamingo before the massive front chased us off. Blue bird skies followed the front and it made for some great photo opportunities on the water between my study breaks. The cold temperatures finally subsided a bit today and we were greeted with some warmer temps as the day wore on. I certainly hope this is a start of a warming trend that will last. Fishing should be absolutely stellar once we have some consitantly mild temperatures. These March ninja cold fronts need to end already. I will be spending some time in the lower Keys in a weeks so I really do hope the weather leading up to my Spring break will finally be warm enough to allow the water temperatures to climb back up. We need this warm up… bring on the tarpon, bring on the permit, and bring on the big bonefish.
Here are some of the recent photos I finally found time to process tonight:
For those of us in college, this week is either spring break or mid term week so good luck in whatever event you are facing. Catch you guys later…
The snook and bonefish have taken constant beat downs from cold fronts that have come into Florida back to back, not only bringing with them extreme record low temperatures, but also many cloudy days to follow rather then the typical blue bird skies. As a result, there was a massive fish kill and multitudes of snook were found dead throughout Florida. The bonefish in Biscayne Bay and the Keys have taken a beating too and many casualties were had. Admist the horroific reports and many days off the water being snowed in without the need for snow to be present, many anglers still held onto hope. This hope that even though many fish were killed, many have taken refuge in the deeper waters of the Gulf and Atlantic to weather out this cold.
I am happy to report some great news straight from the poling platform and casting deck. Big breeder snook are making their return to the inshore waters of the Everglades and schools of bonefish are moving through Biscayne Bay and the Upper Florida Keys once again as the weather is slowly warming back up. I have not been the only one to observe this, as I have heard the same from many other anglers.
I met up with my buddy Capt. Peter Babb again this past weekend and fished the inshore waters of Chokoloskee. After we had missed our optimal tide for a particular group of redfish due to spending an extended amount of time looking for big tarpon (yes we did see one), we stumbled upon something that will be burned into my memory for a life time. While poling down a random shoreline in gin clear water, I noticed some big fish under the boat moving off. I thought “tarpon” at first but then we spooked more of these big fish as we moved further down and I got a good look at them… they were indeed schools of snook; big 30lb+ fish. It was truley an incredible sight to see snook that big in clear water. Of coarse, we threw at a few of these big giants and they wanted nothing to do with our artifical presentations. Peter and I then stumbled upon schools of snook, each fish over 10lbs, cruising up and down a shoreline. With the gin clear water, we could see the bright green backs from a mile away. The first few groups of fish proved real finicky so I tied on a DOA CAL jig/shadtail combo. This is the same setup I used in Pine Island Sound fishing with my buddy Capt. Rick De Paiva to sight fish the pickiest snook in shallows. The next group moved in and I deployed the DOA CAL to a beautiful snook that accepted my offering and graced the air with the sound of a screaming drag. After a short tussle, I had this very respectable snook posing for a photo. Definitely my highlight of this entire year.
Earlier in the week, I had a chance to meet with the guys at Nautilus reels and pick up my new weapon of mass destruction for this next tarpon season. Nautilus Reels has released the “tarpon edition” NV11/12 fly reel. The special edition reels feature special engravings on the reel that serve both function and asthetics from a tarpon etching to indications to measure drag settings and backing capacity. The Nautilus NV reels are all known for being light weight, which is perfect for today’s market as rod manufacturers are making much lighter rods these days as well as rod actions that balance out better with lighter reels. The G Loomis Crosscurrent Pro-1 (which I have matched my NV with as a 12wt setup) being a prime example of this. My black NV Paired with a Cortland Precision Tarpon Taper line, the rod/reel/line is as sexy as a hot Russian blonde and balanced like the ultimiate wet dream. Here’s a little reel porn to get us through a time when we are all waiting for the poon…
Stay tuned for more of the good stuff… until then, keep on making those tarpon leaders and tying flies…
My apologies for not having blogged any updates in a while but it has been quite the busy few weeks. Busy time is winding down a bit and I finally had a chance to get some me time. I’ve spent quite some time studying for classes, managing some projects, and working on bettering my photography. I’m also currenty trying to plan my pre-tarpon season fishing this spring… which I hope to involve quite a bit of permit fishing in the lower keys.
It is always exciting to see the progression of dedicated fly fisherman from their beginnings to the point where they are tucking 40ft back casts under some bushes where a snook lays in ambush mode. The excitement is only much sweeter when it is your friend who picks up that fly rod. My buddy Capt. Peter Babb (www.island-charter.com) had contacted me a couple of weeks ago explaining to me symptoms which I had concluded to be the fly rod flu. My buddy had finally caught the fly bug and with a pencil and calander, we penciled in a weekend to get out and hunt down some fish in his home waters of the 10,000 Islands with fly rods in hand. Pete had done fly charters in the past but rarely has he had time on the bow with a fly rod in hand and great determination to chuck feathers at the fish in his back yard.
There was a slight chill in the air early this morning as we headed out into the thicket of the 10,000 Islands on the 17 foot Pathfinder tunnel skiff. Peter had quite the agenda for us today. Arriving at the first planned destination, we were greeted by some rolling juvi tarpon and ravaging snook pushing bait up against the shallow bank and tearing through them. These weren’t the big snook that the 10K is infamous for, but still decent hard fighting, tippet fraying snook. Throwing a popper fly at the large pushing wakes, I managed to catch 3 of these snook right on the surface. What an incredible way to start the morning. We continued our day poling around the shallows sight fishing snook and redfish. It was very reassuring to have seen 2 big snook and actually have one shot at one of these beasts. Isn’t it truley amazing how mother nature has a way of bouncing back? We saw some big healthy snook and watched the angriest Floridian redfish I have ever seen plow my fly, but the highlight of my day was watching Peter make an excellent cast; as the fly hit the water, a redfish tailed down and pinned his fly to the ground… rest is history as this was my buddy’s first redfish on fly, and a very respectable 10lb fish at that. Yes, it was a cold day and big winds were blowning right into bays we had to cross but I would say catching some big redfish and snook on fly makes it all worth while. I left the 10,000 Islands again with sore arms and memories of another great fishing trip with an old friend. The snook are poppin, the redfish are as aggressive as I have ever seen them, the flats are teaming with fish… life is good… go catch’em!!
A few of these photos are courtesy of Capt. Peter Babb.
In between my studies, my social life, and fishing… I have been playing with the camera a bit and playing with different angles within automotive photography… perhaps something I may be doing more of in the future? Who knows..
Speaking of Redfish and Snook, don’t forget about the up coming Maverick/Vero Backcountry Fly tournament. The event will be held in Vero Beach on March 6th. Entry form and information can be found at http://www.verobackcountry.com/upcoming.php. Join us out there for some great exciting fun and top notch comraderie.
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?
I purchased a non-marked prototype Sage 9wt flyrod many months ago from a noted legend in fly fishing. It was supposed to be a prototype TCX and was a wonder to bonefish with. After that prototype Sage had caught it’s share of bonefish with me, I had some “self proclaimed outdoors celebrity” yahoo on my boat this past Spring who has some hunting show come on my boat and wrecklessly kick and break my prototype Sage flyrod while it was still in the gunnels. I purchased a production TCX afterwards and still did not feel it was the same rod… then came the Xi3… and now I think I have found what that prototype actually was. I have been bonefishing with the 9wt Sage Xi3 for the past couple of weeks. This rod does exactly what Sage claims it does. The Xi3 has the backbone to pick up line from 60ft away and enough reserve to punch it right back out into the wind without issues. For all the longer distance shots, this rod is accurate… much more so then the TCX in my opinion. The rod is finished with a sexy deep blue blank, dark blue wraps, and outfitted with tough hardware to combat the rigors of the saltwater environment. Compared to it’s predecessor (Xi2), the Xi3 is lighter, stronger, and faster. This is a whole different rod. It’s got more power then the TCX and a slightly softer tip, which makes it alright if you need to make a short shot. This rod is definitely most accurate 40ft and up. A great rod for all the elements you encounter while bonefishing. The 9wt Xi3 feels very well balanced with either a Tibor Everglades or Nautilus NV 10/11 fly reel. I threw a Monic tropical full floating fly line on the Xi3 and it was a perfect matchup for bonefishing. I am going to try putting a heavier grain line such as the Wulff Bermuda Triangle taper line on there to see if it will help load the rod quicker and increase accuracy at sub-40ft casts. This rod definitely has the reserve to handle a heavier grained line when called for. At a premium price, you truley get what you pay for.
It has been several months since I have started fishing the Xi3. I have been fishing the Airflo Ridge 9wt Flyline on my Sage Xi3 as of late for tailing bonefish and low light situations where a colored fly line is an advantage over the clear line. The Ridge Airflo line matches perfectly with this rod. Recovery on this rod isn’t as easy as with the G Loomis Crosscurrent GLX series rods. There is a smaller window for error with the Xi3. But with an above amatuer casting stroke, this rod is a bomb and can truley pick up lots of line from far and punch it out without the need for another back cast. A fantastic windy day and bonefish rod in my opinon.
Visit www.rajeffsports.com for more info on the Airflo Ridge fly line.