Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pine Island Fly Fishing Club Returns Oct. 31st

The Pine Island Fly Fishing Club will start up our meetings again for the season at 6:30PM on Oct. 31st in the Matlacha Park Community Center. There is no membership fee but we do ask for a $3 donation to help cover the cost of renting the building. This month's meeting will be a short "Welcome Back" session with no speaker but a few of us will be doing some fly tying and casting instruction. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Skiff Review: The 2017 Beavertail Mosquito

I’ve been guiding out of Beavertail Skiffs for the last 10 years and have been more than thrilled with all of the boats that come out of their Bradenton, FL shop. My current skiff is a 2012 BT3 powered by its second Yamaha F70 outboard. It’s an almost perfect combination of shallow, stable, and silent all while giving my passengers a bone dry ride. Those features were basically impossible to find in an 18 foot poling skiff when I started guiding 20 years ago.

Last month, Beavertail introduced their newest 2017 model, also an 18 footer, called the Mosquito. This latest boat is aimed right at the serious fly anglers who want to get further back into the mangroves than everyone else. With a beam of 70 inches and a hull weighing just 540lbs, this is a very skinny running skiff. With two anglers and a full tank of gas, I’ve poled it effortlessly in water that’s probably too shallow for big reds. The Mosquito is also dead silent with no wave slapping noise anywhere on the hull to spook tailing fish.

Power choices run from 30 to 70hp but the motor that impressed me the most on the Mosquito was the new Suzuki 60 four-stroke. With the right prop this will be a 35mph boat wide open and cruise around 28mph. I’ve owned four-strokes for the last 5 years and love their fuel economy and quiet running. I can actually have a normal conversation with my passengers while the engine is turning just a few feet behind us. I always had to shout on my older boats with their louder two-stroke outboards.

Beavertail will configure the Mosquito with tiller, side or center console steering. The brave, young guys who want to vanish into the Everglades will go for the tiller rig since it’s possible to get a 5 inch draft with that option. I’m looking very hard at the center console with its thick padded forward jump seat/cooler combo. That will allow my anglers (and occasionally me) to lean back with our feet up and enjoy the ride. Hydraulic steering is standard with the center console and that makes it even more effortless to drive.

The best part owing any Beavertail is how dry they all run. In my current BT3, with its 82 inch beam, it’s honestly difficult to get wet even in very choppy conditions that would have drenched us in some of my older skiffs. The Mosquito is a foot narrower and while it’s not designed as a pure open water machine, I wouldn’t hesitate to run it across Charlotte Harbor on a 15 knot day.

This is a great time to be in the market for a new boat, especially ultra-shallow poling skiffs. You have a lot of choices out there and at least a dozen more manufactures are in the mix than there were 20 years ago. The BT Mosquito has some serious competition, most notable are the excellent Maverick HPX17 and the Hells Bay Waterman, and almost all of the manufacturers are an easy drive from our area. Best of all, Boat Show Season is starting and the 44th annual Ft. Myers show kicks off at the Harborside Event Center on Nov. 17th. This should be your first stop if a new fishing rig is on your shopping list. You’ll be able to meet several of these builders in person and compare their products side by side. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pine Island Spoonbills

I can't get enough of these gorgeous birds that happen to be very shy around Pine Island. Getting anywhere near them for a decent picture is a rare treat.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Slam For Emmett

I recently had my best day on the water so far this month fishing with 4 year-old Emmett Walker and his dad Kyle.  Emmett showed us how it's done by landing the Inshore Slam of a redfish, snook, and a lot of trout.  The best part of the trip was watching him bring in several of these fish on his 4' Ugly Stick and Zebco push-button reel.  I have to admit that I borrowed the rod from him for a while and landed a few trout on it myself.  It's more fun than you can imagine landing saltwater gamefish on a kid's bluegill gear.  Great job, Emmett.  Can't wait to get you a tarpon next summer. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Beavertail Skiffs 2nd Annual Owners Tournament

Once again, my neighbors Tim Gleason And Vic Maffee walked away with the Grand Champion trophy by pulling some amazing fish out of Cockroach Bay the day after Hurricane Matthew ran up the east coast. Great job and a really great time for everyone who made it there.