Friday, August 30, 2013

Jack Attack At Matlacha

Here's a couple of shots from late yesterday afternoon at the Matlacha Pass drawbridge.  We were heading out to the Indian Fields to look for tailing redfish when a big school of jacks blew up right in front of us.  My buddy Joe Mahler jumped right up on the bow and landed this golden beauty with his 8-weight and a popper.  It always amazes me how hard a two pound fish like this can fight on a light fly rod.  I could catch these guys all day long. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Sunset Redfish

My buddy George Schramm and I actually pulled three of these beauties out of the fresh water of Matlacha pass this evening.  They are out there and tailing by the hundreds right now. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Freshwater Redfish

It seems like everyone in SW FL has been screaming about all of the runoff coming from Lake Okeechobee over the past few weeks.  Matlacha Pass is basically a freshwater extension of the Caloosahatchee River right now and the water doesn't even taste salty until you get up into Charlotte Harbor.  Fortunately the fish don't seem all that bothered by it.  The reds are still tailing on the flats off Little Pine Island at low tide and UK angler Neil Cobley caught this 30" beauty yesterday on a Gulp jerk shad.  He also jumped an excellent 20 pound tarpon in the same water on the same bait.  The local press loves to tell the typical sky-is-falling story about the lake's runoff but I'm convinced that the fish can deal with it.  Don't panic, everything you want to catch is still out there. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Antique Wood Tarpon Sign

The sign itself isn't really an antique but it looks like it came from a fishing camp down in the Glades. My amazingly talented brother who teaches art up in northern PA just came up with this for my folks place on Matlacha. He used the wood from an old barn and some house paint for the coloring. Click here to see photos and comments on the entire process from his blog, which is definitely worth following and usually very funny.  I'm hoping he secretly made one for me. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pine Island Fishing Report: The Redfish Keep Tailing

Ryan and Jennifer with a gorgeous late summer redfish caught yesterday on a Gulp Shrimp.
I've been traveling more than fishing this past week so I was thrilled to stumble into a pile of reds off Little Pine Island on my charter yesterday. Despite the unfavorable conditions, late morning low tide and a steady breeze, hundreds of fish were out there tailing like crazy. Of course it was the same old story and they were spookier than any Key West bonefish I've ever encountered.  What is it with these reds lately?   They're making me want to move to Louisiana where the redfish actually fight each other to get to a lure or fly as soon as they see it.  No matter what, tailing fish are a blast to see and chase and at least they get a little dumb once the tide floods in and covers the grass. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Feeding The Tarpon At Robbie's Marina, Islamorada

Yes, there is a place where the tarpon are always hungry. Unfortunately, you can't fish there. I never drive down to the Keys without stopping here for a few photos.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Let's Get Out Of Here!

This afternoon my dad and I tried to fish the bottom of the tide off Matlacha, but this was waiting for us out there.  We managed to survive the alien mothership disguised as an approaching thunderstorm but once again caught nothing.  I really hate it when an alien invasion screws up my fishing. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pine Island Fishing Report: Tailing Redfish Everywhere, None On My Boat.

Over the last two days and through the rest of the weekend we've got some perfect late afternoon tides in both Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. The reds love these conditions and have been rooting up the bottom along with the mullet schools, especially just before sunset. I've probably seen more than 500 tails sticking up in the air over the last 48 hours. It's been absolutely amazing and I'm ready to smash my head into a wall because I can't make them eat anything we've cast to them. I can't come up with any explanations for my bad luck but the sunsets have make coming home empty a bit more tolerable. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Key West Shark Attack

While I was chasing permit last week in the Lower Keys I got to witness a rare sight on the flats. A ten foot bull shark attacked and killed a full grown southern stingray about 100 yards off the bow of my buddy's boat.  Here's the shark: 

Here's what was left of the stingray:

And here's the shark cruising away looking for another meal.  Notice the boat in the background and the dive flag it's flying.  This was the first week of lobster season and there were three people in the water about fifty yards in front of it.  And yes, we motored over and told them what we just saw. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Key West Permit Fishing

Once again my buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett had a couple of open days on his schedule during some good tides. Any time I get that call I'm in the car and making the 300 mile drive down to Key West because I know that I'm going to catch some permit with him. This trip was no different even though we had constant winds gusting over 20 knots. If you want to land a permit on the flats give Mike a call at 305-797-2452.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beavertail Strike vs. BT3

The 17' Beavertail Strike

The 18' Beavertail BT3

Earlier this year I was asked to write a review of the new Beavertail Strike for Fly Fishing In Salt Waters magazine, which you can read here.  I've been posting about this boat since it was first unveiled last year and I absolutely love it.  I think it's the best technical skiff on the market and a lot of folks agree with me on that.  The Strike is currently Beavertail's best selling hull and for good reason.  You can still get one for less than $30k and have it delivered in six to eight weeks.  But I still don't own one and have no intentions of trading in my BT3 on a new Strike anytime soon. 

Guiding here off Pine Island, the majority of my charters are spin fishing trips and I routinely get booked by groups of three anglers.  The ultra-stable BT3 with its 82" beam is the perfect platform for trips like that.  While the Strike is also Coast Guard rated to carry four people, its 72" beam makes that a tight squeeze.  It's really a perfect boat for two anglers and a guide.  If I were back in Key West again, where the majority of my charters were just a pair of fly fishermen, I would own a Strike in a heartbeat.  You're going to see a lot of Keys guides running new Beavertails down there in the next few years. 

I still love the hell out of my 2012 BT3.  It's more than exceeded my expectations over the last two seasons, but I have to admit that my new dream boat is a BT Strike.  I'd pick a light blue Elite model, with an all Kevlar hull and carbon fiber hatches, powered by a Yamaha F70.  That's as close to perfection as you're going to find in a flats skiff. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

2013 Beavertail BT3 For Sale

This is Beavertail's most recent demo skiff that was used for several boat shows last season.  It has almost every option available and the Etec 90 has been run for less than 20 hours.  This BT3 would retail for over $42k brand new but you can get it with a full warranty for $38,500.  Click here to see some more photos and get a full list of its equipment. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Ernest Hemingway

Today was Ernest Hemingway's 116th birthday. 
Young Jack Hemingway and his awesome, awesome dad.
My dad took me fishing a lot when I was a kid, but our trips were never like this. 

There is so much manliness going on in this photo that you're growing chest hairs right now just from looking at it, even if you're a woman. 

I was searching for some old Keys pictures on Google when I came across this unbelievable gem.  It was taken off Key West sometime in 1935 onboard Hemingway's yacht the Pilar.  The fishing was obviously slow that morning so it looks as if Papa settled into his second favorite pastime, drinking heavily. 

You should also note that the Thompson submachine gun, which was perfectly legal to own back then and routinely used by Hem to blast sharks, is unloaded.  Proper gun safely was obviously quite important to Papa, (at least during this point in his life.) 

Even though I lived and worked as a fishing guide in Key West for over a decade, I never really got into Hemingway's writing.  Seeing pictures like this might make me take another look at him.