Friday, August 31, 2012

Fishing Is Back To Normal After Isaac


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Impact Lures

Last week I met an east coast angler who gave me a great looking wooden lure to try here on the Gulf coast.  It's called a Top Chub and is made by a small Boynton Beach company called Impact Lures.

Its action is very similar to the Zara Spook, my favorite artificial of all time, and it's very easy to mimic the walk-the-dog retrieve with this hand made topwater.  Unlike the Spook, if you give the Top Chub a fast crank it has an erratic twitching action just under the surface which would be hard to resist for an aggressive predator like a barracuda or bluefish.  Also unlike the Spook, the treble hooks on the Top Chub don't look like they'll straighten out if a really big redfish starts pulling on one.  I don't know the exact brand of hook that Impact uses but they seem much more substantial than the ones that Heddon puts on their product. 

The only fault I can find with this lure is that it's really great looking and I know that an actual person spent some time making it.  I'm going to feel really bad when a big red chews on it for a while and messes up the paint job.  The Top Chub sells for only $7.99 which is a very competitive price for a good surface lure.  They're definitely worth a look and it's nice to have something made by a skilled American in my tackle box. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gulfside Marine Service On Matlacha

These guys are the best mechanics in the area and the only ones who've ever serviced my boats as long as I've been in the area.  Their hourly rates are also much lower than anyone else in SW FL.  They're located right at the foot of the drawbridge on Matlacha and are also a dealer for Honda outboards and Stott Craft boats.  Give them a call at 239-282-0443 if you need any kind of service. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Near Miss From Isaac

It looks like the Gulf States are going to catch this one right on the chin.  Steady rain here on Pine Island and not much else right now.  I've got some fishing buddies in that area so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed over the next few days. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fishing Before The Hurricane

This will be the last redfish until sometime next week but at least is was a beauty.  My buddy Jason Duke from Ft. Myers landed it near McArdle Island on a white Strike King swimbait.  Isaac is almost definitely going to be a hurricane when it passes (hopefully) to the west of us on Monday.  Unfortunately that is supposed to happen in the afternoon when we'll also be getting some very high tides on the island, which could lead to lots of flooding.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Here Comes Isaac

Most of these models have this storm coming across the Keys but staying to the west of us here on Pine Island.  It's been eight years since we've had a direct hit but that was Hurricane Charley, this one won't be nearly as strong so I'm not loosing any sleep over it right now.  We'll have at least two more days of great fishing before things get messy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Matlacha Fishing Report: Great Rising Tide Redfish

If you can pry yourself away from all the rolling baby tarpon out there right now, you'll find a nice amount of redfish in the back bays of Matlacha Pass.  Early mornings with rising tides are the best times to spot tailing schools like the ones in the top photos.  We found those fish on Sunday around 9:30 which was right at the bottom of the tide near the northern part of the pass.  The were in less than a foot of water and we managed to get within two boat lengths of them before they even noticed us.  It also helped that we were on my buddy Jud's Mitzi 17 which can float in a puddle.  Tailing reds are actively feeding and just about anything you get in front of them will draw a strike.  The fish we caught in these pics grabbed Gulp shrimp and a Merkin style crab fly. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Temple Fork BVK Super Large Arbor Fly Reels

I'm a big fan of Temple Fork Outfitters, especially their new line of BVK rods and reels.  I've finally had a chance to play with one of their brand new Model IV fly reels designed to fit an 11 or 12 weight rod.  This reel will hold 275 yards of 30# dacron backing which is more than enough to contain any full size Pine Island tarpon.  They also have a completely sealed Delrin/stainless steel drag system that is basically maintenance free.  I've been using one of their Model III reels for over a year and rarely even rinse it off at the end of the day.  Right now the Model IV is available only in the moss green color shown above but it's great looking and matches the new BVK 12 weight rod perfectly.  It retails for only $299 which is a tremendous bargain for this kind of quality and performance.  You can check them out in person at Florida Paddlesports on Pine Island Road.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Key West Scenery

Fishing the flats with my buddy Mike Bartlett is always the best reason to go down to Key West but the town itself is almost as interesting.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Flats Of Key West, Tarpon And Bonefish Edition

I just got back from another long weekend in the Lower Keys where I had two days on the bow of my buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett's excellent Beavertail BT3. It doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Baby Tarpon Season On Pine Island

From this month's Nautical Mile magazine.

August means several things for anglers here in Southwest Florida, such as blazing heat, oppressive humidity and best of all, baby tarpon rolling by the dozens in both Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. 

The big schools of fish that cruised the Gulf beaches have continued their migration and are mostly north of us by now.  There are still a few stragglers out there but triple-digit tarpon will become a rare sight as we head into late summer.  If you missed your chance at an exhausting, hour-long fight with one of these fish on a 12-weight fly rod, you might have to wait until next year. 

But don’t worry, you can still toss flies at silver kings for the next couple months, and you won’t have to work so hard to land them. 

Right now we’re at the start of what a lot of guides consider our second tarpon season.  While the big migratory breeders are an April through June event, from August through October the juvenile tarpon are the stars of the show around Pine Island.  These fish are mostly under twenty pounds and still several years away from reaching their reproductive age.  That means they’re usually more focused on eating and getting bigger, not chasing potential mates.  Anyone who’s spent a hot and frustrating afternoon off Cayo Costa making cast after cast to indifferent hundred pounders will welcome these smaller tarpon with open arms.

These are the perfect light tackle fish and any rod capable of landing a trout or red will work fine.  An easy to cast 8-weight with floating line is my favorite rig.   Juvenile tarpon are not very particular with their diet and I’ve caught them on just about every fly in my box including #6 bonefish patterns, but I tend to use the same streamers that I throw at the bigger fish.  Every tarpon, no matter what their size, has a rock hard mouth and the 2/0 Owner hooks that I tie my big fish flies with stick better than anything else. 

Spin fishermen will have an even wider choice of ammo to use for these juveniles.  Pitching a live greenback or pinfish into a rolling school is usually a sure thing.  Large canal shrimp hooked behind the horn would be my second choice when using live bait.  Paddle tail Gulps rigged on a 5/0 swim bait hook have put a lot of small tarpon in the air for my anglers and so have various Bass Assassin style softs plastics. 

The one lure I use more than any other when I’m after snook, trout and reds is the trusty Zara Spook.  It’s also the one I use the least for tarpon.  There’s nothing I love more than watching a fish blow up on a topwater lure and tarpon make a better explosion than anything else.  Unfortunately they tend to hit these light surface lures so violently that they knock them several feet in the air and miss the hooks completely.  It’s the most entertaining thing you’ll ever see but it doesn’t often result in a solid hook set so the topwaters usually stay in the box when I’m tarpon fishing. 

You obviously have to get your boat to these fish before you can catch them and this can be the tough part.  A school of rolling tarpon is really easy to spot but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find.  Since these juveniles are too small to join the migration, they tend to find hidden areas up in the mangroves and stay there.  This is all the more reason to get off your regular spots and do a little exploring.  If you don’t have a skiff that will get you back into the bushes try taking a kayak with you.  I found one of my best “secret” baby tarpon spots this way.  (Which two other guides already knew about before me.)  You may also get lucky and find them rolling by the dozens along the canals of Matlacha and Pine Island.  (Which every other guide already knows about.)

No matter where you find them or how you hook them, juvenile tarpon are the most entertaining fish on the flats.  There’s an old saying that goes, “Fish don’t get big by being dumb,” and if you know where to look you can find a more than a few dumb tarpon around this month. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Itu's Bones

This is a short preview to a full length DVD about the efforts of a Cook Islands native and commercial gill netter to become a fly fishing guide.  An all around excellent production.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

One More Tarpon From Matlacha

Brian and Len Favara came out one more time to chase the yesterday and managed to get a decent ten pounder to the boat first thing in the morning.  From there our mission was to complete the Grand Slam and the guys landed a couple nice trout and the snook pictured above.  The redfish was a problem and we spent almost two hours casting into a pile of mullet and other baitfish near Smokehouse Bay.  Brian finally managed to draw a really good strike from a red on a Zara Spook and got it right next to the boat where it pulled loose as soon as I grabbed my net.  It wasn't a technical Grand Slam but since it's my boat it was close enough and I'm counting it.  Another great day on the water either way.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More Tarpon Shots From Matlacha

Len and Brian Favara were out with me again today and put a hurting on some juveniles on the flats and near the island.  The best fish was Brian's thirty pounder pictured in the above photo.  These fish were caught on 20# Power Pro braid and landed in just a few minutes.  With the water temps in the mid to upper 80s right now it's important to bring them in quickly and get them back in the water after a photo.  Tarpon are great survivors if they're handled like this.  These guys will be here for another two months at least so don't be afraid to pull hard on them, you'll get plenty of shots.