While I do not consider myself, by any stretch if the imagination, a “red fisherman”. There is a time and place during the year to yank on a few of these fish when the opportunity presents itself. I have minimal experience hunting these fish beyond the Florida Bay and over the last many years, for the most part, avoided fishing them religiously. Most of the “channel drum” in the Florida Bay take the fly with ease and then typically just roll in the mud. Hell if they even clear your stripping line it calls for a celebration. Probably a function of warmer water temps who knows they are simply lazy bastards. I would guess it to be comparable to snagging a nurse shark just ask Honson.
I would have liked to think that once you caught one redfish you have caught them all but with a range from Massachusetts to Northern Mehico redfish are simply not created equal. Even in the Glades they can simply just turn their nose on just about everything you put in front of them, I suppose this is fishing and to be expected but getting refusals from a fucking brainless redfish can perplex even the most seasoned of anglers.
Don’t get me wrong about these “spottail bass”, I do enjoy catching them, from aggressive bites, to occasional table fair, to sometimes forgiving the worst of casts, they are good fun to hunt. I am told that they can even live to be 60 years old……….pretty incredible if you ask me.
On a recent family adventure I had the chance to fish out of my old skiff (no floor original Hells Bay Waterman made when Tom Gordon had a full head of hair, simply a badass poling skiff) in the low country for the first time, not sure what I expected but I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of these grassy mud flats………………….
While I say the derogatory “blue-collar bonefish” stuff the fishery could not be farther from the truth. The Charleston fishery is legit and the numerous estuaries could keep the most local of folks hitting a new area every outing. Hell the 50 or so free local ramps in enough to make anyone happy. Needless to say the flooded spartina grass was a welcomed change of pace.
I can see how this wading to fish in the grass can get addicting………….
fish kept coming to hand……………….
And on the last afternoon with a long drive ahead of me with crying babies and all, we saw one last fish tailing hard in the grass, deep in the thick shit. Feeding them deep in the grass is not done with ease and definitely takes some experience but the fish came up and moved across some open water and I laid the fly out in front of her. It was a nice sized fish and as I stripped the fly in position the damn thing got stuck on a heavy blade of grass. In attempt to not spook the fish I lightly jiggled the fly when all of the sudden the 32inch fish blew up and ripped the fly from the grass…….I am told this is called the “dangler”
apparently this is all the rage in these parts (fish takes you into your backing)
one of the better reds I have seen in a long long time….
definitely hope to be back soon just not in the cold………………….
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 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…