Saturday, January 29, 2011

Matlacha Birds

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Permit On Fly: Vieques, Puerto Rico

I was going through some of my old photos this afternoon when I came across this one from my former home on Vieques.  This is an interesting shot for several reasons.  It was taken in 2003 on a windy and stormy day at a place called Purple Beach, located on the island's north shore.  A few years earlier this spot was completely off limits since it was used by the Navy and Marine Corps as a bombing range and to practice amphibious landings.  There's even an old M-60 tank hull sitting up on the hillside past the beach that was used as a target.  

The very tall angler's name is John Dukes and I can't remember where he was from.  To his left is Capt. Franco Gonzalez who, before I moved to Vieques from Key West, was the only fishing guide on the entire island.  The fish John is holding is the very first permit ever caught on fly on Vieques.  It also might be the only one ever caught on a fly down there because in the five years that I guided on the island, none of my anglers managed to land one.  I had several hooked up but they all managed to get free.  Unlike Key West, there just weren't that many permit on Vieques so we rarely got shots at them.  

Finally, if you click on the photo and enlarge it, you'll notice that Capt. Franco is wearing a Green Bay Packers hat.  I kind of remember him being a Cheese Head for some reason, but I'm a die-hard Steelers Fan so he looses a few points in my book for that one.  Either way, Franco is a great guide and Vieques is an awesome bonefishing destination and you might even get a shot at a permit while you're at it.  If you're heading that way give him a call at (787)450-3744.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Old Pine Island Marine

This is my favorite tackle shop on Pine Island, located right on Stringfellow Road in St. James City.  In addition to carrying a full line of rods, reels, and baits they're also a full service marina with both wet and dry slips available.  Their prices can't be beat and they'll special order anything they don't have in stock.  Click here to check out their website or stop by Monday through Saturday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Monster Sea Trout From Matlacha Pass

Here's more proof that God is a Steelers Fan.  Pittsburgh, PA angler Ed Maximovich landed the biggest sea trout I've ever seen this afternoon just south of the Matlacha drawbridge.  This fish was 25 and 1/2 inches long and easily weighed 5 pounds.  The trout fishing has been so great lately that it's hard to catch one that isn't legal.  This is such a welcome change from what we had to deal with last January.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Matlacha Fishing Report: Big Redfish And Huge Trout In The Pass

My buddy Jory Pearson, owner of Florida Paddlesports, brought his father-in-law Walleye Wayne out on my boat this morning.  The conditions were pefect for sight fishing and the water temps were hovering right around the 60 degree mark in the south part of Matlacha Pass.  Unfortunately, nobody told the fish how perfect everything was and they were lockjawed for most of the morning.  Right around 2:00 pm, with the tide really rising and the water hitting the magical mid-60's, the reds started getting active and Wayne landed the beautiful 30 incher in the top photo on a Badonk-a-Donk.  This is a great topwater lure and puts out an irresistable vibration that reds can't resist.  Make sure you have a couple in your tackle box.  Since this redfish was over the slot limit it was released after the pictures.  A short time later Jory got slammed by the 23 inch trout that ate his DOA paddle tail jig.  This fish was the biggest sea trout of the year so far on my boat and was sent right to the grill.  Even though the catching was slow this was a great example of quality beating quantity.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Key West Flats Angler: A Great New Fishing Blog

If you're heading down to the Florida Keys for a flats fishing trip be sure to check out my buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett's new blog.  I've posted a lot of reports from and about Capt. Mike before and I consider him one of the best guides in all of the Keys.  He's a great fisherman, patient with beginners, and most importantly, he never yells at his clients when they make mistakes.  There aren't too many guides like that down there.  Do yourself a favor and give him a call at (305)797-2452.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One More Big Redfish From Pine Island Sound

 Before joining the witness protection program, Capt. X was one of the best fly fishing guides in all of Florida.  Unfortunately he strayed from the path and picked up a spinning rod one too many times, breaking his oath of loyalty to the fly fishing Mafia.  Now that his identity is fully protected he's free to cast plastic lures and even live bait at anything he wants, such big redfish like this one caught right outside of Jug Creek.  Even though this fish was a fat and very legal 25 incher, Capt. X released this red to grow bigger and be caught another day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cabbage Key Fishing: Big Sea Trout On The Flats

Everyone is Southwest Florida jokes that you'll catch the biggest sea trout of the year on December 31st, the last day that their season is closed, and they always seem to disappear the very next morning.  So far this year that hasn't been the case.  We are absolutely slamming the big trout all over Pine Island, especially over the grass flats in the northern part of the Sound.  The fish in these photos were caught on the flats near Jug Creek and also around Cabbage Key and they were not the largest ones we landed.  After the redfish stopped tailing we switched from flies to topwater lures and drew strike after strike from these big, legal sized trout.  It's really a blast to hook into one of these fish that can actually pull some line from a reel.  It's even nicer to be able to grill a few up, too.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fly Fishing For Redfish: Useppa and Pine Island

My buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett came up from Key West to chase some of our big Pine Island redfish.  The water temps in Charlotte Harbor shot up almost ten degrees in the past 24 hours and this gave us a thick fog all morning.  That didn't matter very much since a negative low tide and dead calm winds in the Sound had the reds tailing everywhere.  Less than ten minutes after we started poling a huge flat close to Useppa Island Mike was casting to a huge orange tail rooting in the grass.  The fish pounded the slider and after a handful of strong runs he had the 30 inch red in the boat, his biggest on fly to date.  My Matlacha neighbor Bill Heindl almost matched this catch a short time later with a 29 incher of his own.  Since both of these fish were over the maximum slot limit they were released after the photos. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011