Friday, November 30, 2012

Sidewinder Skiff Restoration

There's a great thread right now on the Florida Sportsman boating forum detailing the restoration of a 1979 Sidwinder flats skiff.  These hulls were originally built as race boats and then heavily modified by their owners to function as poling skiffs.  These Sidewinder designs eventually went into production as the Shipoke, a very popular boat for the Keys guides in the early 1970s and recently brought back into production.  You can follow the thread here.  The owner of this skiff has a lot of talent to underatake a project like this.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Excellent Redfish Tides This Week

Here's what a great tide chart looks like if you want to find tailing reds in the morning:

This shows three negative lows for the Pineland area all happening before 10am the next three days.  If you want to catch one on a fly this is exactly what you want to see. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Fish, Two Fish...


Jeana Chambers from Orlando came down to Matlacha and landed her Dr. Seuss Slam while completely outfishing her dad Bill at the same time.  It was a slow morning with water temps just below 60 degrees when we set out at 7:30 and it didn't warm up much before lunchtime.  This isn't a bad thing in the long run.  The reds will get used to the cold very quickly and hard pulling bluefish love the chilly water.  Look for big schools of them under the birds in Charlotte Harbor just off Burnt Store bar right now.  Bluefish will hit almost anything that moves and they're especially fun on topwater lures.  If you've never caught one before watch out for their teeth.  You can't tell from that photo above but they have a very serious set of razors in their mouth.  Use pliers when you're dehooking them because they're perfectly engineered to remove a fingertip if you're not careful. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The New Matlacha Bridge Is Open (and almost finished)

Two years and $25,000,000 later, the all new Matlacha drawbridge is now open.  It was a daunting project from the start, attempting to build a structure just under 900 feet in length and over a body of water that plunged to depths of almost 17 feet.  But the engineers were up to the task, and they're only four months and $7,000,000 over budget.  The old bridge should be torn down by the spring and dropped into the Gulf as a new artificial reef.  Never thought I'd see it finished. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beavertail Skiffs In Key West And Islamorada This Weekend

Here's the perfect excuse for a road trip to the Keys.  You'll get to drive the all new Beavertail Stike, BT3 and Aeon 23 at the Hurricane Hole Marina in Key West and the famous Lorelei in Islamorada as well as meet fishing legend Stu Apte at both locations.  Click on the Beavertail Skiffs events page to get full details and any updates.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How To Find Tailing Redfish

If you’ve spent any time on the waters around Matlacha and Pine Island, you know that our flats are home to an abundance of redfish, and December is one of the best times of year to chase them.  If you’ve tried catching one with a fly rod then you also know that we have an abundance of very tricky redfish, maybe some of the most difficult to fool in all of Southwest Florida.  There are several reasons for this but none of them are obstacles for fly anglers that can’t be overcome with a modest amount of local knowledge and time on the water.

Fly fishing for redfish basically means sight fishing for them and that is a big challenge in this area.  Unlike the Florida Keys, our shallow flats are rarely clear, especially during the summer.  Matlacha Pass in particular looks like a freshly brewed cup of coffee for most of the year and Pine Island Sound only brightens up once the temps drop into the lower 70s.  These tannic stained waters wrap themselves around our copper colored redfish and even when you’re standing on the deck of a skiff they appear and disappear right underneath you in the blink of an eye.  Just getting your eyes locked on a cruising red long enough to get a good cast off is often a serious struggle. 

The dense grass on our flats is also the perfect camouflage for redfish, which are primarily a bottom foraging species.  The turtle grass blades in Pine Island Sound grow over two feet long and redfish burrow through them like prairie dogs.  During a rising tide it’s not uncommon to float right over a big red, completely hidden in the grass until the shadow of the boat blows them out in a huge swirl of water and cloud of mud. 

Fortunately, late fall and winter brings us some of the year’s lowest tides in Southwest Florida.  During December, huge expanses of flats are exposed during these negative lows forcing the shrimp and crabs that reds crave down into the mud for shelter.  Once the water starts flooding back in the redfish will follow with their noses on the bottom and tails in the air.  These are the famous tailing tides that all the TV shows love to film and fly anglers love to fish.  Given the right conditions, our local reds will tail for hours until the water deepens enough to cover them completely. 

The right flats to go looking for these tailers can be easy to locate with a navigational chart and tide table.  Any area with a controlling depth of less than one foot is likely to become exposed during a negative low tide.  If the tide bottoms out within a half hour of sunrise that is an even better situation.  This gives you at least three hours of excellent light that actually illuminates the bright orange tail of a redfish when it pokes above the surface. 

When you’re out on the water at low tide, look for any area near the mangrove that holds a lot of birds.  Wading herons, white pelicans, and dozens of cormorants mean that the grass is full of food and redfish will follow the rising tide after it becomes too deep for birds.  Wading birds usually move along shortly after the flood tide begins so don’t worry that their commotion will spook any possible fish.  The reds are used to feeding alongside these guys. 

Since our local redfish will rarely tail in water more than two feet deep, you obviously need a shallow drafting boat to chase them in these conditions, especially with a fly rod.  If you’re new to the Pine Island area, a lightly powered skiff such as a Gheenoe, or even a kayak, is one of the best platforms to get you out to these fish safely without grounding yourself for several hours. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Megalops: A Tarpon Experience In Cuba

You'll be seeing this video trailer posted everywhere in the next few days. I love the photography but hate the soundtrack. A typical problem with most fishing movies these days. This is definitely worth a look either way.

Megalops "A Tarpon Experience in Cuba" - Trailer - AFVideos from AFVideos on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aeon Marine/Beavertail Skiffs Open House This Saturday At Palm Island Marina

If you're in Southwest Florida and want to test drive all of the newest boats from Aeon Marine and Beavertail Skiffs, you'll get the chance this Saturday at the Palm Island Marina in Cape Haze.

Click here for directions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pine Island Fishing Report: Chilly Weather Redfish

My buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett came up from Key West for the weekend and got to enjoy our morning temps in the low 50s. 

Fortunately the redfish were tailing all over the place right after sunrise.  Mike was casting a deer hear slider and landed the 24 incher in the photos below just south of Jug Creek.

We shot out to Pine Island Sound this morning and found a lot of cruising fish in Orange Pass.  The wind was honking out of the east so nailing these fish right on the head with a fly was no easy chore.  Fortunately Mike is used to conditions like this almost every day in Key West and stuck and even nicer 26 inch red near Rat Key. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beavertail Strike Running Video

Strike Running from Beavertail Skiffs on Vimeo.
This is a short clip I shot last month. The Strike is one of the best looking skiffs I've ever seen. I really like the sharpness of the bow. Keep an eye on Beavertail's website and Facebook page for some upcoming announcemnts and come see them starting this Thursday at the Ft. Myers Boat Show.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pine Island Fishing Report: Upper Slot Reds and Gator Trout

The falling tides have been less than favorable in the mornings but we've still managed to pull in some decend fish.  The reds are everywhere right now but getting them to eat can be a trick, especially when it's as calm as it has been all week.  Cape Coral angler Jerry Pfeil landed the fat 27 incher in the top photo on a cloudy and slighly breeze day when we the fish weren't nearly as spooky.  When the sun is shining I swear the reds can see our lures coming at them while they're still in the air. 

The 21 inch trout was caught by St. Pete angler Beau Stout near Pineland on Friday at the bottom of the tide.  The bite was really slow for these guys but the redfish were tailing all over the place once the water started flowing in at noon.  Starting next weekend we'll have some excellent incoming tides in the morning and we might see the best tailing redfish action of the year.  Give me a call if you want to get after them.

Friday, November 2, 2012

2008 Beavertail B2 For Sale

You don't see many of these for sale but this is a really nice Beavertail B2 at an excellent price.  Click here for the link on