Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pine Island And Matlacha Bird Watching Tours

Winter is one of the best times of year to observe and photograph some of the bird life here in Southwest Florida.  In addition to my fishing charters I love taking folks out on my boat for sightseeing trips and I've always offered low priced, two hour tours catering to birdwatchers and photographers.  My rate for this is only $100 for one to three people.  The best times are during the bottom of the tides and just before sunset. If you've heading to Ft. Myers or the Pine Island area and are more interested in taking pictures than bending a rod feel free to give me a call at (239)565-2960.

Friday, December 24, 2010

More Matlacha Redfish

Here are a couple of shots from last weekend when I was out with my buddy Don Morehead who owns Keystone Custom Rods here in Cape Coral.  We absolutely slammed the reds for the first two hours of the morning and landed nine total.  Three of the fish were over the slot limit, including the 30 incher in the bottom photo.  All but one of these redfish were caught on white jerk baits and the biggest fish smashed a Zara Spook.  Despite being cloudy and cold it was one of the best morings I've had in Matlacha Pass in a long time. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fly Fishing Matlacha: Redfish

With the water temps down into the lower 60's the redfish have been all over the southern part of Matlacha Pass.  The one pictured above was caught on my last charter by angler Wes Furnback on his first cast. That's his dad Doug to the left.  For the next 8 hours the guys threw to dozens of fish that unfortunately became way too spooky thanks to the ultra-clear water.  We didn't connect to any other redfish that morning but we finished up the trip with the guys landing several very big but out of season trout on both fly and spinning gear.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pine Island Birds

Winter is a great time of year for birdwatching here around Pine Island and Matlacha.  The migrations are in full swing and the negative low tides bring out thousands of our local wading species.  If you'd like to go out and observe and photograph some of our local species give me a call at (239)565-2960 and set up a bird watching trip.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keystone Custom Rods

If you're in the market for a great rod builder here in Southwest Florida you have to check out Keystone Custom Rods.  Don Moorehead started this business fifteen years ago in Pennsylvania and recently moved it down here to the Cape Coral area.  He builds rods for every type of fishing from bluegills to blue marlin and his finish work is excellent no matter what your budget.  He also does repairs on any kind of rod, usually a lot quicker and less expensive than the manufacturer will charge even under warranty.  Check out his rods at Florida Paddlesports in Cape Coral or give him a call at (239)292-5201.  Don is also diehard Steelers fan so you know he's a good guy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Pine Island Fishing Articles

In addition to this blog and the Nautical Mile newspaper, I also contribute regular articles to the Florida Marine Times.  This is a online and print publication that's also a great place to buy or sell a boat.  All of my Marine Times articles are exclusive to them but you can them all a read by clicking here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Foggy Morning On Pine Island

The weatherman got the forecast wrong yesterday and the fog didn't lift until almost 1:30 in the afternoon.  When it finally burned off the redfish poured onto the flats and my dad nailed this 24 incher on a Badonk-A-Donk topwater lure.  One thing I've noticed lately is that the reds are feeding most aggressively over the darker grass.  If you have a boat capable of floating in less than a foot of water the back bays of Matlacha Pass are a sure thing right now. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Learning To Fly Fish

My buddy Jim Griffiths asked me to write a short article for his annual Boater's Guide that's available all over Lee County right now.  The subject was a beginner's guide to fly fishing around Pine Island and with Christmas vacations right around the corner some of you might find it useful if you're coming to the area for the first time.  Here it is:

The waters surrounding Pine Island are a fly fishing paradise. In addition to the great saltwater species such as tarpon, snook, redfish, and sea trout, Southwest Florida is blessed with over 300 days a year of pure sunshine and relatively calm winds. If light tackle is your game then there are many reasons to take a saltwater fly rod with you each time you hit the water.

For this area, an 8 or 9-weight fly rod with a matching disc-drag aluminum reel is a great all around choice for the flats and inshore fishing. If you’re just starting out there is no reason to spend any more than a couple hundred dollars on your first rod. The high performance and fast action of a $700 Orvis will be lost on you as a beginner, so you really don’t need to consider those at first. Many smaller manufacturers such as Temple Fork, St. Croix, or Redington offer complete entry-level rod and reel packages for less than $400. This will give you a saltwater-ready outfit that often comes with a lifetime warranty, too. The advances in graphite composites and computerized machine-tooling have created a revolution in affordable fly fishing gear. Some of these beginner’s outfits are as good as anything the top manufacturers were producing ten years ago at twice the price.

Actually learning to cast a fly rod is a lot easier than it looks. It’s a simple matter or timing, coordination and a surprisingly small amount of muscle. Anyone who can operate a bait caster or spinning rod can learn the basics of fly casting in a few hours. There are dozens of great how-to books and DVDs on the market but to get the most bang for your buck I highly recommend taking a lesson from a certified instructor. The extra money you’ll spend on a personal lesson will guarantee that you don’t teach yourself a few bad habits that will hurt your casting ability later on down the road. There is a fly fishing school located right here on Pine Island and several fishing guides in the area, myself included, welcome beginners and will gladly incorporate a casting lesson into a day’s charter.

On top of being affordable and easy to learn, fly fishing is highly effective in a lot of different situations, especially when the winds are dead calm. For big redfish tailing in half a foot of water, silently dropping a deer hair fly on their nose is a great way to avoid spooking them. In the clear waters of Charlotte Harbor, stripping a dark streamer across the nose of a huge laid-up tarpon will often trigger an explosive strike. The resulting hookups are jaw-dropping and fighting a big fish on a saltwater fly rod is absolutely unforgettable.

Like any great sport, learning to fly fish is not effortless but it’s far from a mysterious and sophisticated art form. The truth is that being able to cast a fly is just another highly useful tool in the arsenal of a well rounded angler. Nothing about fly fishing, from the cost of the gear to the time it takes to learn, should be intimidating. If you spend time on the waters around Pine Island, make this the year you finally give it a try.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fishing Report: Pine Island Redfish In December

Today we had productive but sometimes frustrating morning of chasing redfish in both Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound before the cold front hit us in the afternoon.  To sum things up, there are still a lot of reds around and most of them are fatties like the one pictured above caught by Ft. Myers angler Ed Hermann on a Zara Spook.  We started off by casting to a few tailers right at the bottom of the tide and finally landed this 24 incher a half hour later.  It was the same story as almost every other big redfish I've caught lately:  find the largest school of mullet and start casting.  There will be at least one burried in there. 

The frustrating part came later when the fish failed to show at some of their usual haunts like the flats off Cabbage Key and Pineland thanks to the advancing cold front.  I found only a fraction of the reds in these spots compared to a week ago with similar tides.  Oh well, it's always great to be able to blame the weather but if we were only meant to catch one red this morning this was the perfect fish.  We also managed to land a handful of trout and every one of them would have been a keeper if their season was open.  I'm actually looking forward to what some lower temps and hopefully cleaner water will bring us this week.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Debarb Your Hooks!

Yep, that's my dad with another lure impaled into his body.  This happened to him the other day when a big snook flung this Zara Spook straight back at him at warp speed.  Fortunately he was on my boat using one of my lures and I crush the barbs on them as soon as I take them out of the box.  The last time this happend to Pops he was on his boat trying to unhook a bluefish when a barbed Mirrolure wound up under his thumbnail.  We ran back home and three strong Manhattans later I was cutting into him with a razorblade.  Lesson learned.  Debarb your hooks and you'll aviod a trip to the emergency room or kitchen table surgery.