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.
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.
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
I hope every has enjoyed a festive and Happy Holidays with their friends, family, and possibly even some fish. It was the perfect time for me to take a week and a half off from my office job and spend some time with the family in the evenings and fishing during my days. I have less then a month to prepare for the Swamp Guides fishing tournament so I had to get some practice days in fishing for redfish, snook, and bonefish.
With a host of some of my favorite fishing buddies, I took to the last few days with some determination, my 9wt, lots of holiday turkey, and only 2 fly patterns that would do it all. We fished from Biscayne Bay to Islamorada covering lots of ground in a few days and met with good results. Fishing under conditions as such with limited lighting, cold water temperatures, and quite a bit of wind most of the time wouldn’t be a walk in the park. This was expecially true when it came to bonefishing in the cold. Capitalizing on shots at all 3 species would take nothing less then a long boat ride and some experience accumulated from the past few years of fishing. Oh and of coarse, having buddies who know how to feed a clump of symmtrically aligned fur and steel to weary bonefish helps too. Fishing has been good despite the less then favorable conditions given.
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.
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…