Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Matlacha Sharks

Sharks are becoming a common sight on the flats of Matlacha Pass right now, especially during the evening low tides.  Pictured above are anglers Cody and Brooke Treutel with a small blacktip and bonnethead that they caught on live bait just north of the island.  The blacktip hit a chunk of cut pinfish and the bonnethead ate a live shrimp.  Sharks are a great species to target when the tarpon aren't cooperative.  They can be caught on very light spinning rods and will even hit flies if they're chummed properly.  Just make sure you release them all.  None of these sharks are all that good to eat no matter what anyone says. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Good Snook, Great Fly

Here's my buddy Eric Treutel from Idaho on Day One of his annual trip with me here on Matlacha.  This 22-inch snook was our best catch of the morning after the tarpon stopped rolling.  It hit one of Eric's 1/0 Puglisi style baitfish patterns right at the mouth of a mangrove creek in the northern part of Matlacha Pass.  Take a close look at this fly if you plan on tying some snook patterns for yourself.  It has everything you'll need; big eyes, a hint of red gills, and a big white body.  A guaranteed snook killer. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2006 Beavertail B2 Flats Boat For Sale

Update:  My 2006 boat is sold but I have a neighbor selling a 2007 B2 with an Etec 60hp motor with just over 100 hours of use.  This boat is in fantastic condition so feel free to give me a call at (239) 565-2960 if you'd like to see it or take a test drive in the newest BT3.

This has been my personal guide skiff for the last five years.  It has a 50 HP Yamaha 2-Stroke with just over 800 hours.  There are a lot of extras that will go with this boat, including brand new SeaDek, and you can read about them here.  You can also read a short review about this boat here.  I'm asking $15,000 which is a good price for a perfectly maintained boat like this.  There are very few B-2s on the market right now and this is the lowest priced one available.  You won't find a more capable boat at twice the price.  Test drive this 550 pound skiff and then go look at any Hell's Bay or a Maverick HPX.  You'll be amazed at how much the Beavertail gives you for a lot less money. 

Please e-mail me at gmckee1@hotmail.com or call me at (239)565-2960 with any other questions or to arrange a showing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Matlacha Tarpon Report

We're hooking them but they're not making it easy for us.  I've been out on the water almost every day this month and here are a few things I've observed about our tarpon season.

There a lot of small fish in the 10 to 30 pound range all over Matlacha Pass.  This is a relatively recent development and they really started showing up last week.  These are perfect fly rod size tarpon and they're all hungry.  When they see a fly they usually try to eat it without hesitation.  The problem is getting them to see the fly. 

Right now the water in Matlacha Pass is darker than Cuban coffee and just as hot.  This causes the tarpon to roll on the surface a lot more than normal but that's the only time it's possible to see them.  Once they're down, they're invisible.  An angler needs to be able to put a fly right in front of them within five seconds after they surface which incredibly difficult.  It's basically like playing Wack-A-Mole with a fly rod. 

If you can double-haul to 50 feet with only two false casts, you'll be able to catch tarpon on a fly in the Pass right now.  That's a demanding requirement but it's what we've been faced with this month. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Matlacha Tarpon On Fly

Massachusetts angler Bill Downey celebrated his 75th birthday in style by hooking and landing this beautiful 20 pound tarpon with me this afternoon.  Bill was using a 10-weight Sage rod and casting a green and red Toad pattern.  This tarpon was part of a huge school we found rolling in Matlacha Pass and feeding on big schools of threadfins and glass minnows.

All you fly anglers out there should look closely at the first two photos.  They show Bill executing a flawless "Bow to the King" technique when the tarpon was jumping.  Throwing them slack is crucial when tarpon are in the air and it takes a bit of experience to do this every time.  Way to go, Bill.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sage RPLXi Fly Rods For Sale

I still have one 9-weight, two-piece Sage RPLXi fly rod for sale.  It is in excellent condition and has been fished less than a dozen times.  The RPLXi series sold for $550 and I'm asking $225 for it.  If you'd like to see or cast it you can stop by Florida Paddlesports at 3015 SW Pine Island Rd, from 10 AM to 6 PM all week.  Feel free to e-mail or call me at 239-565-2960 if you have any questions.

Snook Permit Refunds

Guess what?  If you spent your hard earned $10 for an additional snook stamp on your fishing license, just to find out last week that you can't keep any here on the Gulf coast until (possibly) September, 2012, the FWC will actually give you your money back.  It seems like a very simple process.  Just go to this page at the FWC website, fill out the refund application and send it in with a photocopy of your fishing license.  It might take up to 90 days but this is a good move on the FWC's part, especially since our buddies over on the east coast of Florida will get their season reopened later this fall.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Snook Season 2011 Update: No Snook For You, Pine Island!

You can still catch them but you gotta release them, at least here on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  The FWC has spoken and snook season will remain closed until August, 2012. 

News Release

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Media contact: Aaron Podey, 850-487-0554
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) decided on Thursday to reopen the recreational harvest season for snook in Florida's Atlantic waters on Sept. 1 and maintain a catch-and-release snook fishery in Florida's Gulf waters. Only catch-and-release fishing for snook has been allowed statewide since Dec. 15, 2010 under FWC executive orders to protect snook populations affected by prolonged cold weather in Florida during the winter of 2009-2010.

Commissioners received a staff report regarding the latest information on the status of the snook population, which suggests that snook on Florida's Atlantic coast were less severely impacted by cold weather than Gulf coast snook. Based on this information and public comment it has received, the Commission agreed to reopen the snook harvest season this fall in Atlantic waters.

Snook has been strictly regulated in Florida for more than 50 years. Current regulations include summer and winter closed harvest seasons, a one-fish bag limit during open seasons, restrictive slot-size limits and a prohibition on the sale of snook. The FWC believes these measures helped ensure that snook abundance was healthy enough before the freeze to enable the fishery to rebound and continue to grow in spite of the cold-weather impacts.

Consequently, the Commission determined that the Atlantic stock of snook in Florida's Atlantic coastal and inland waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, can return to the regular season opening Sept. 1. The regular daily bag limit of one snook per recreational angler will apply, as will the 28- to 32-inch total length slot limit.

In addition, the current harvest prohibition of snook in all of Florida's Gulf, Everglades National Park and Monroe County state and federal waters will remain in effect until Aug. 31, 2012. This will allow the Gulf snook population additional time to rebound and allow the FWC to complete a full stock assessment that is scheduled to be presented to the Commission in early 2012. Anglers may still catch and release snook during snook harvest closures, and the FWC encourages everyone to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release.

New BVK Large Arbor Fly Reels Coming Soon

Just posted on TFO's website this week is a first photo and details about their newest fly reel.  This thing looks very impressive, both funtional and beautiful at the same time.  I'm a big fan of all things TFO and I'll be owning one of these reels very soon.  Here's the company's official press release: 

During the development stage of the now highly acclaimed BVK series of rods, TFO quickly realized the need for a series of reels to complement the rod's standards in terms of performance, light-weight, quality and affordability. Temple Fork Outfitters is pleased to introduce the new BVK super large arbor reels.

BVK reels are precision machined from bar stock aluminum. The clear silver anodized frames and spools are ported to eliminate excess weight. Equally at home in both fresh and salt waters the super large arbor design provides faster line pick up and helps the maintenance free drag system work at a more constant pressure that standard arbor reels. Delrin/Stainless stacked discs make the drag silky smooth and the one way clutch bearing makes engagement instant and left to right hand conversion simple.
For more information on the BVK reels or any other of Temple Fork’s product line, visit your local TFO dealer or visit www.templeforkflyrods.com/products/reels.html
Jim Shulin

Vise President

Temple Fork Outfitters

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Snook Season 2011?

Here's the latest from the FWC:

On June 8 and 9, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will discuss a potential snook season for part of the remainder of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. The question under discussion will be whether to open snook season on September 1, when the current executive order closure expires.

FWC commissioners are considering four options for both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, including opening the season on the Atlantic Coast on September 1.

The memorable snook kill in 2010, due to sustained cold water temperatures, has impacted the fishery differently on both coasts. Stock assessments show that Gulf breeding stocks took a stronger hit than Atlantic coastal waters. On the Atlantic side, access to deep water and accompanying warmer temperatures helped survival rates during winter. In the Everglades, results show that snook catch rates have not been this low since before 1991. Based on the information gathered, FWC commissioners are considering four options listed below.

Option A is to resume the original season structure. This option would reopen snook harvest on September 1, 2011, when the current Executive Order (extending the closed season through August 31) expires. Snook harvest would close again on both coasts in December (Gulf would close December 1 and Atlantic would close December 15) as per the original season structure. Snook harvest would reopen in 2012 on the Gulf coast on March 1 and on the Atlantic coast on February 1.

Option B would extend the current closure for snook harvest through the remainder of 2011. Based on the original season structure and current rule, snook harvest would reopen again on February 1, 2012, on the Atlantic coast and March 1, 2012, on the Gulf coast. This closure would protect the adult fish for the remainder of 2011.

Option C would open re-open snook harvest on September 1, 2011, when the newest executive order (extending the closed season through August 31) expires. Snook would close again under the current regulations on December 1 on the Gulf coast and December 15 on the Atlantic coast. In 2012, this option would keep snook closed from January through August 31, 2012, in order to protect the fish during the winter months and during spawning months.

Option D would keep harvest of snook closed until the commission could review the upcoming snook stock assessment and decide if rulemaking is needed. Specifically, this option would keep harvest of snook closed through the remainder of 2011 and until August 31, 2012. Snook harvest would reopen on both coasts on September 1, 2012. This option would protect adult fish for the remainder of this year as well as protect fish during the winter months and spawning months

Commissioners favor a “bicoastal” approach which uses Option A for the Atlantic coast and Option D for the Gulf coast. This would open the snook fishery to anglers on the Atlantic on September 1. For Gulf coast anglers this would set back an opening until August 31, 2012. If harvest remains closed, the commission may consider refunds for snook permits.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Marina For Sale, Matlacha, FL

One of my favorite places on the island, the Old Fish House Marina is for sale.  This is a great spot right on Pine Island Road that has everything a small marina needs, including a boat ramp, non-ethanol fuel, a tackle shop, and best of all an excellent little restaurant and fish market.  There are a lot of ways to improve and add on to the property but it could also be left as is and still be almost perfect.  There used to be dozens of places like this up and down the Keys when I first moved there two decades ago but sadly they're all gone now.  The Old Fish House right here on Matlacha still has all that charm that the Keys let get washed away by overdevelopment. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Big Snook On Fly Off Matlacha

Snook fishing in Matlacha Pass has been amazing this year and it even seems to be heating up these past few weeks.  I've had a lot of anglers hook big slot-sized fish last month while we were out looking for tarpon.  Last night it was my turn when I hooked this beautiful 29 incher an hour before sunset in the Indian Fields.  I was casting a 2/0 Crystal Schminnow, the world's best snook fly, right under the mangroves with a 9-weight Sage rod.  Even though I had a heavier leader rigged for tarpon, with 20# tippet and 40# shock leader, the big linesider still came very close to powering its way back under the mangroves and busting the flourocarbon.  Fortunately my dad was on the boat with me and he jumped on the trolling motor and powered us away from the shore, giving me some more room to pull on the fish.  Five minutes later we had him landed, photographed and released.  Big snook on a fly are a serious challenge but there are a lot of them swimming around Matlacha right now.  If you want to target one this is one of the better spots in all of Florida.

Kayak Review: Native Ultimate 12

The Southwest Florida Kayak Anglers Association has a great website where they post club news and fishing reports along with some well written gear reviews.  Jim Van Pelt posted this review last month about one of my favorite fishing kayaks, the Native Watercraft's Ultimate 12.

Yesterday May 1, 2011, I fished in the IFA’s Sarasota Redfish and Trout Tournament. Earlier in the week my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 sprung a leak in the keel which is something I’ve been battling with since I bought it used back in September. Jory Pearson from Florida Paddle Sports on Pine Island Road in Cape Coral, FL came to the rescue. He provided me with a Native Water Craft Ultimate 12 so that I could get out onto the water and catch some fish. From the moment I picked it up at the shop I was immediately impressed with how light it was. It’s only half the weight of my 12 foot sit on top kayak and has more than 3 times the amount of storage. I brought all of my normal fishing equipment and still had room for a full size cooler and extra tackle.

We got out on the water at about 6:30 am and the wind was already ripping across Pine Island Sound and the higher sides of the Ultimate got caught by the wind and we got pushed pretty quickly across the flats. I noticed that when caught in the wind the Ultimate spins while it drifts which is an easy fix with the addition of a rudder system. Along the way we fished the all of the pot holes and caught a number of Sea Trout, all of legal size. Fishing a tournament and trying to measure a fish and keep it in the boat can be a bit of a feat, but the sides of the Ultimate completely remove this issue, keeping a lively fish securely inside your boat at all times while you try to simultaneously measure and take a picture.

Once across the Sound and out of the wind I was able to comfortably stand and use a push pole to navigatemy way through the grass flats while looking for tailing Redfish. The boat was extremely stable, I was even able to hook and land fish while standing and being pulled.

After a few hours hunting Reds it was time to pack it up and race back to Sarasota for the weigh in. Neither I nor my partner was looking forward to the paddle back because we had to paddle against the wind and the current. I was extremely surprised at how easy the paddle back was and how well the boat tracked in strong winds and a rough chop. I was also extremely pleased that I was able to manage a full 6 hours of fishing that day due to how comfortable the seating system in the Ultimate is. After yesterday I can’t wait to get into an Ultimate on a more permanent basis, maybe just upgrade to the bigger 14.5ft model. I could spend all day fishing and paddling or standing and poling the flats. Minus the few minor tweaks that would be needed such as a few more rod holders, which does come standard on the Angler model, and a rudder system which would be a must, this is definitely a great boat and worth a try. It made tournament day much more enjoyable. For more information on all Native Watercraft click here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fly Tying Feathers For Sale, $300

A friend of mine sent me a story that has been making a lot of news in fly fishing circles this past week.  The latest fashion trend of weaving feathers into women's hair has caused a run rooster hackles, especially those from birds provided by Whiting Farms specifically raised for fly tying.  Fly shops are profiting heavily from this and selling $30 hackles for more than ten times that amount to hairdressers.  Good for them, especially in this economy.  It doesn't bother me at all since I only use rabbit fur in 90% of my tarpon flies.  Fly tyers are complaining right now but this trend will probably dissapear quickly.  It was started in Hollywood, of course, by some idiotic celebrity who probably has no idea that those roosters are killed just for those feathers.  (The hackles are actually attached to a big, leathery hunk of skin in the package.)  Once PETA point that out to them they'll stop doing it and the price of feather will drop quickly.  For now, I found this old saddle hackle at the bottom of my tying desk that has a lot of great feathers left on it.  The bidding starts at $300.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is really great little town just two hours north of Matlacha with some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Florida.  I didn't catch any fish while I was up there but saw several snook and pompano swimming in the surf so I can't wait to go back. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pompano On Fly

Local angler Jim Drysdale landed this small pompano while casting to baby tarpon with me yesterday.  The fish itself isn't too impressive but it was caught on his first cast using an Avalon Crab fly.  This is a great new pattern developed for Cuban permit it will obviously be highly effective on their close cousin the pompano.  I've been tying up a lot of these for myself lately and you can also purchase a few locally at Florida Paddlesports.