The time had finally come for my new Maverick 18 HPX-V to revisit it’s home waters where it was made for the first time. Capt. Eric Davis and I teamed up to fish the Maverick Boats/Vero Backcountry Fly Tournament this past weekend in Vero Beach. With high water and limited visibility, it did involve more blind casting then I would have liked to do with a fly rod but when the time was right, we eventually got into the right areas and were able to sight fish for redfish and trout. It wasn’t a big problem finding cruising redfish, but getting the bite was tough (lots of follows and lots of refusals) as I had to go through several different fly patterns to find the right one. And even still… I could develop a more effective one for next time I target these Vero redfish. They are definitely a lot different from the Everglades redfish that I am used to feeding flies to. We ended up going 2 for 2 on redfish (measured a 23″ Red) and 1 for 2 on big seatrout (measured a 23″ trout), for 46 total inches. This was not enough to seal the victory as fellow Maverick Mirage owner Mark Wolaver and his partner edged us out of the top spot. Wolaver measured a nice snook and an even bigger seatrout. Eric and I landed in 2nd place this tournament. Capt. Willy Le and his partner Dominic measured the biggest redfish of the tournament, Wolaver measured the biggest seatrout, and Camp measured the biggest snook. No sheepshead were caught to my knowledge. Congratulations to all the anglers who worked hard and caught some fish for some tournament points. The format of this tournament is fun every year and the challenges faced makes for a better fly fisherman and more stories to be shared around the picnic table. The food and accomodations provided by The Vero Backcountry and Maverick Boats was a top notch family atmosphere. Thanks to all the organizers who make this tournament possible… I look forward to fishing the next one this coming April.
The Everglades is part of what I consider my local waters. The usual shallow water suspects sought after during chillier days are redfish and snook (yes snook). The temperatures are starting to stabilize with highs in the 80s during the day and lows into the 60s in the evening and wee hours of morning. Though I did not miss the massive cold temperatures of this past winter, I did miss the occassional warmer winter days and slightly chilly morning run through buttonwood canal. The backcountry of Flamingo becomes a real special place after extreme warmth of summer passes. Whether planning on coralling wads of finger mullet and pilchards into your baitwell or simply tying on your favorite lure or fly, the Everglades will fail to dissapoint the bait soaker or sight fisherman in us. Once you are exiting out of Buttonwood canal you enter natures realm of big fish eat small fish, starting from Coot Bay, into Whitewater Bay, Oyster Bay, Shark River, and the entire gulf coast outside of there. The incredible fishing is only bested by the vast unspoiled wildlife that surrounds you. Now that the mullet are here, porpoises, tarpon, and other big predators are having their fill devouring massive quantities of these half-brained delicacies. It’s pretty cool watching a redfish chase down and flare it’s gills at a small mullet imitation fly or soft plastic, but feeling a helpless baitfish at the end of your line struggling as a big redfish or snook closes in, is pretty exciting in it’s own aspect.
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?