Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Florida Fly Fishing School On Pine Island

My friend Capt. Scott Swartz has a few openings for his next class at the Florida Fly Fishing School starting on March 2nd.  This three day school is easily the best investment you can make if you want to get serious about fly fishing.  Scott is a fantastic instructor and even if you're not a beginner he can easily improve your skills to get you ready for the more demanding saltwater species of Florida.  The number of students is kept to a minimum to insure a lot of hands on instruction so book this early if you're interested.  You can call Scott at 404-550-6890.

Monday, January 30, 2012

1998 Maxum 2700 SCR For Sale, $29,500

If you're in the market for a great cruiser, here's a beautiful 27 foot Maxum SCR for sale right here in SW Florida at Cape Regal Yachts.  This boat is in excellent condition and has been coverd and lift stored.  The engine is a 300hp 7.4 MerCruiser giving it a 30mph cruising speed.  It full canvas is in perfect shape and has no rips, tears, of fading at all.  Click here to see the full listing and factory specs.  If you'd like to check out the boat in person just give me a call at 239-565-2960.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ding Darling And Doc Ford's Tarpon Tournament

This is an all new tarpon tournament coming to Ft. Myers in early May that should appeal to anglers and fans of author Randy Wayne White's novels.  The entry fee is only $400 per boat and you can find some more information here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matlacha Fishing Report: Some Really Big Trout

This beautiful 24 inch trout fell to a white Zara Spook in the north part of Matlacha Pass late this afternoon.  This was easily the best sea trout I've caught in a long time and I've seen plenty just like it hanging in the potholes of both the Pass and Pine Island Sound.  Things were really slow for these fish last week but our unseasonably warm weather and kicked them into gear.  Topwaters and soft plastic jerk baits have worked especially well on the trout since the weekend.  There is another cold front hitting us on Friday so it looks like we'll hit the reset switch once again.  At least I've got a couple of great filets in the fridge before that. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

More Key West Redfish From Capt. Mike Bartlett

Here's another beautiful Key West redfish that my buddy Capt. Mike caught yesterday on a Gulp shrimp off Key West. These fish are almost becoming a regular catch for Mike down there and the one pictured above is nicer than any that my anglers landed all week. You'll also notice how not red the redfish are in the Lower Keys.  These fish adapt to the coloration of the water and on the gin clear flats of the Keys they're mostly silver with a little pinkish tone to their scales.  Compare Mike's Key West fish to the one below that he caught in the dark waters off Pine Island this time last year.  I think ours are prettier.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

F-35B Lightning Sea Trial Aboard USS Wasp

A friend from Key West sent me this video the other day.  It has nothing to do with fishing but it involves boats and jet fighters, two of my other favorite things.  Watch it and remind yourself how much America kicks ass.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Aeon 24XP Running Video

Here's a quick 2 minute video I shot earlier this month while running the new Aeon 24XP bay boat for the first time.  It was a perfectly calm moring which is a little unfortunate since we couldn't demonstrate how amazingly dry this boat is in the chop, just like it's Beavertail skiff cousins.  This is a very impressive machine and at $62,500 as shown it's a real bargain.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Matlacha Fishing Report: Cold Weather Snook

Snook get very sluggish in cold water and the temps in Matlacha Pass dropping ten degrees in the last two days hasn't helped things very much.  The fish pictured here was the first snook landed on my boat in over a week.  It was caught by Ed Maximovich from Pittsburgh, one of my favorite regular anglers, on a white Marsh Works soft plastic swimbait.  This obviously wasn't a really impressive example but it was Ed's first snook and the only one hungry enough to eat today out of the hundreds that we spotted on the flats in the south part of the Pass.  We've got some warmer weather coming up and some big moring tides, so if you want to land a few snook in addition to all the redfish and trout that are around right now, this is a great week.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Florida Sportsman Expo Speaker's Schedule

Next month's Florida Sportsman Expo at the Lee County Civic Center is shaping up to be a great event.  It takes place on the weekend of February 4th and 5th starting at 10AM.  I'll be there at the Aeon/Beavertail display with my new side console BT3.  You'll be able to see this boat right next to a fully rigged Vengeance skiff.  Aeon will also have their brand new 24XP bay boat and one their popular 23 inshore/offshore boats on hand.

The real star of the show will be Stu Apte and his BT3 Signature Series skiff which will debut at the Expo.  Stu will also be giving two presentations each day at the indoor casting pond, along with several other notable anglers.  Here's the schedule and hope to see you there.

Inshore Fishing Stage:
11 a.m. – Capt. Kevin Merritt, Dirty Little Redfish Secrets
12 p.m. – Stu Apte, Advanced Fish-Fighting Techniques
1 p.m. – Capt. Rick Grassett, Best Lures & Flies for Spring
2 p.m. – Capt. Mark Nichols, Targeting Trophy Trout
3 p.m. – Stu Apte, Fast-Cast Sight-Fishing Technique
4 p.m. – Capt. Norm Zeigler, Big Snook on Fly

Offshore Fishing Stage:
11 a.m. – Capt. Hank Williams, Less Effort, More Fish
1 p.m. – Capt. Rob Modys, The Latest Tarpon Tactics
2 p.m. – Capt. Alex Suescun, Fishing Around Shrimp Boats
4 p.m. – Capt. Ralph Allen, Optimizing Electronics for Bottom Fishing (Sat. only)

Rigging It Right Table:
Offshore classroom with Capt. Rick Ryals and Capt. Denny Young:
11 a.m. – Thirty-second Kingfish Rig — Tie a better wire leader in just 30 seconds.
12 p.m. – Bottom Fishing — Catch more snapper and grouper with these bottom rigs.
1:30 p.m. – Caring for your Catch — Proper fillet technique will improve table performance.
2:30 p.m. – Rod Building 101 – Learn how to construct your own fishing rod.
3:30 p.m. – Thirty-second Kingfish Rig — Tie a better wire leader in just 30 seconds.
Inshore classroom with Capt. Tony Bozzella and Capt. Larry Miniard:
11 a.m. – Rigging Basics — Rigging plastic baits, jerkbaits and paddle-tail jigs.
12 p.m. – Live Baiting — Learn tricks on how to rig shrimp, mullet, mud minnows and crabs.
1:30 p.m. – Leader to braid or mono — Learn two fast-and-easy methods of knot tying.
2:30 p.m – Sliding Float Rig — How to fish structure and grass without getting hung up.
3:30 p.m. Double-line tying — Learn the Spider Hitch, an easy way to double your line.

Kayak Stage with Peter Hinck:
12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Hunting Stage with Capt. Tony Bozzella:
10:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Saturday
10:15 a.m. on Sunday

Angler on Foot Stage with Capt. Larry Finch:
10:45 a.m. – Beach Fishing in Southwest Florida
12 p.m. – Effective Bridge & Pier Fishing
1:30 p.m. – Request Hour
3 p.m. – Beach Fishing in Southwest Florida
4 p.m. – Effective Bridge & Pier Fishing

Cast-Net Pit with Capt. Terry Sturgeon:
All day Saturday and Sunday

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stuff I Like: Yeti Coolers

If you're an avid boater of fisherman you've heard of Yeti Coolers.  They've been on the market for several years now and are by far the best cooler you can possibly own.  Tough doesn't even begin to describe them.  They're even bear proof.  Don't believe me?  Check this out from their website:

Fortunately, we don't have many grizzlies around Pine Island but it's nice to know that if we did, my lunch would be safe.

Yeti coolers aren't cheap, but this is a case of getting more than your money's worth out of a product. Unless it gets stolen by a bear, I'll never have to replace the 75 quart Tundra model that also doubles as a center seat on my BT3. A Yeti cooler is a lifetime purchase.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Matlacha Fishing Report: Redfish And Trout Finally Start Eating

Local anglers Nick and Cathy Smith had a banner morning with me in Matlacha Pass.  Our best catch was Nick's 24 inch redfish that he caught in less than a foot of water near the power lines.  Cathy also scored a smaller red and managed to haul in a beautiful 21 inch trout in the same area.  They also landed over a dozen smaller trout in the Indian Fields north of Matlacha.  All of these fish were caught on Gulp Shrimp rigged on weedless swimbait hooks.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Boat Review: The Amazing Aeon 24 XP Bay Boat

Bay boats are one of the most popular types of fishing machines in all of Florida. This is thanks to their unmatched versatility. They can float across the flats for redfish and snook, drift the passes for tarpon and sharks, or make long runs offshore for sailfish and tuna. They can also be rigged with some serious power to get you out to the fish and back home again at some serious speeds.

Aeon Marine of Palmetto, FL has just introduced their first entry into the bay boat market and it promises to look and perform like nothing else out there. The all new Aeon 24XP is beautiful 24’ hull that has some of the most unmistakable lines on the water. With an impressive 8 ½’ beam and less than 1 ½’ of draft, it’s a remarkably capable rig for both inshore and offshore fishing. It’s also rated for up to 350HP which puts the new Aeon’s potential top speed into a category that few other bay boats can match.

I had a chance to test drive the first 24XP last month on the Manatee River with Aeon Marine owner Will Leslie. The boat was rigged with a 250HP Evinrude, Aeon’s custom jack plate, an 8’ Power Pole, and had a full tank of gas. It was a dead calm afternoon on the river and the 24XP jumped up on plane in just a few boat lengths. Thirty seconds later we were cruising at 60mph and we easily hit the boat’s top speed of 67mph with this motor and its three blade stainless prop.

A lot of customers will probably choose to hang a 300hp motor from one of several manufacturers, and that will push the top speed into the mid-70mph range. The folks that go all the way with the 350hp option can easily expect to have an 80mph bay boat on their hands. For tournament or offshore anglers, this should be a very appealing package.

No matter what the choice in horsepower, the ride of the Aeon 24XP has to be experienced first-hand. I felt completely comfortable running this 3200lb bay boat at 60mph even though I’m far more used to running a 650lb skiff at half that speed. And just like the excellent Beavertail flats boats also built by Aeon Marine, the 24XP will absolutely eat up the chop. The best time to test drive any of these hulls is when the wind is blowing at least 20mph. An incredibly dry ride in almost any condition is an Aeon trademark and easily my favorite thing about their designs. The only time you’ll need to put on foul weather gear in these boats is when it’s actually raining.

On top of all that, the price of Aeon’s newest model is sure to be its most impressive feature. The 2012 24XP that I test drove will sell for under $65,000. That’s tens of thousands less than a few of its competitor’s with the same power.

If you’re in the market for one of the fastest and most versatile saltwater fishing boats ever built, give the new Aeon 24XP a very close look. It’s truly an original design that will definitely turn heads for years to come.  You can see it in person on Feb. 4th and 5th at the Florida Sportsman Expo at the Lee County Civic Center in North Ft. Myers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vieques Bonefish

It's sunny as ever here in Southwest Florida but a very chilly 50 degrees.  Fortunately I didn't have a charter this morning, which I would have canceled anyway, and that gave me time to catch up with a few friends down in Puerto Rico.  I'm really missing some of the big bonefish I used to chase on the flats off Vieques and Culebra.  Here are some shots of my favorite catches from the four years I guided on the island.